Opinion: Facebook, Google Have Stolen So Much, They Need To Give Back By Starting Journalism Philanthropy Fund

Written by Dana Sanchez


Facebook has taken steps to combat its fake news problem, but the results have been disappointing.

The social media giant has said repeatedly it cares about authentic news and publisher relations. It launched the Facebook Journalism Project in January to better collaborate with media outlets. One of its programs includes fact checking, Mashable reported:

“The problem with Facebook’s entire ‘news team’ is that they’re glorified client services people,” an attendee at Facebook’s F8 conference who works on the digital side of a major news publisher told Mashable in April.

Fact-checkers working with Facebook told The Guardian this month that they’ve been frustrated with the program. Some suggested that Facebook isn’t serious about stopping disinformation.

“They have a big problem, and they are leaning on other organizations to clean up after them,” one participant told The Guardian.

Not everyone thinks fake news is a bad thing for the news industry.

The proliferation of fake news on social media is increasing the value of trusted brands, said Chris Evans, editor of the U.K.’s Telegraph, in a Press Gazette report:

“The news industry has ‘suffered something of a loss of confidence’ in the past 10 years, caused almost entirely by advancements in technology,’ Evans said: ‘We have spent 10 years blaming the likes of Facebook and Google for taking the advertising money that pays for our journalism – and indeed they have… but if we spent 10 years lamenting the loss of revenue we have also spent 10 years forgetting what we are good at.'”

Tina Brown, founder of The Daily Beast, says Facebook and Google have stolen so much from journalists, they need to start giving back by starting a philanthropy fund.

Tina Brown during a Nov. 13 appearance on CBS’ “Sunday Morning.” Photo: WENN

After eight years as editor at Vanity Fair, Brown edited The New Yorker and later launched experiments like The Daily Beast in 2008. The online upstart merged with the old-line Newsweek into one company in 2010.

Brown’s new memoir, “The Vanity Fair Diaries,” came out on Nov. 14. In it, she explores sexual harassment allegations (including those involving Harvey Weinstein, her former business partner), the appeal of Donald Trump, and what Facebook and Google owe journalists. Here’s an excerpt from an interview with Brown.

From Time. Interview by Samuel P. Jacobs, digital director and executive editor at TIME.

You liked to say as an editor, “If you don’t have a budget, get yourself a point of view.” Budgets are still shrinking. Do you worry about the future of journalism?

Tina Brown: I do worry very much about the business model. I think it’s high time that Facebook and Google created a vast philanthropy fund to fund journalism. They have stolen so much that it’s high time they gave some of it back.

How would you grade the media’s performance over the past year?

Tina Brown: I think we’ve seen a fantastic resurgence in journalism in the last year. I’m very excited by what journalists are doing right now. There’s a fantastic, relentless sort of rigor now about continuing to not be deflected by Trump’s aggressions and mendacity and simply to keep on keeping honest with the public and publishing what he is doing in a way that’s very exciting.

You liked to say as an editor, “If you don’t have a budget, get yourself a point of view.” Budgets are still shrinking. Do you worry about the future of journalism?

Tina Brown: I do worry very much about the business model. I think it’s high time that Facebook and Google created a vast philanthropy fund to fund journalism. They have stolen so much that it’s high time they gave some of it back.

Which has been worst for journalism: Google, Facebook, or Twitter?

Tina Brown: I think Facebook probably because it’s world domination…I think journalists for years have had to be berated with this word, exposure—as if anyone can live off exposure. There should be revenue that comes back to journalism. It’s just not right in my view. And I think that the worm is turning in that actually.

In what way?

Tina Brown: I have a feeling that we’re going to see some kind of a push back that finally benefits. I think the world needs journalism, and I think that people are beginning to understand that, even though the press never seems to be in any poll to be in particular high regard. Maybe we’re coming to a time when writing words can be valued the same as writing code.

Read more at Time.

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About Dana Sanchez

Dana Sanchez is the editor of Moguldom.com and AFKInsider.com. She has worked in digital and print news media as a business writer and news editor. She has a master’s degree in mass communications from the University of South Florida. Prior to working in news, Dana worked in advertising.


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