Tuesday 16 October 2018

'Science has prevailed and produced this instant, plastic, fake news' - Acclaimed journalist on fake news

Jon Snow
Jon Snow

Charlotte Ryan

Acclaimed British journalist Jon Snow said that "science has prevailed" in the media world and has left behind "instant, plastic, fake news".

Speaking at the BT Young Scientist and Exhibition Gala , the Channel 4 News reporter said that fake news is everywhere.

"I’ve been sort of evolving with the science in my profession and then of course there was that sublime moment of the digital breakthrough when absolutely everything was instant.

"The great joy of film, and to a certain extent video, was you had a good number of hours to make the phone calls, highlight the facts, actually speak to people, and do quite a lot of legwork - maybe not moving out of the desk but nevertheless, telephonic legwork - to try and get the story right.

"These days, they want it now, absolutely immediate. Forget television, stuff can go online long before you see it on television."

Mr Snow continued to say most people now consume news through Facebook, rather than local newspapers.

"A remarkably large number of people do actually watch bits and pieces of British television, but in fact only 800,000 people watch the news, but last year we had 2.5 billion views on Facebook.

"We broadcast the programmes and then the programmes are cut up and redelivered on Facebook, but as I discovered with the Grenfell tower fire - I went down there at half past five in the morning and the fire was still raging - was that in fact, what a journalist normally does, a national journalist, is look for local hacks, local people who toil away on the local papers and know everything and everyone. There were none. Why was that?

"That was because Facebook has obliterated most local advertising. Most people advertising advertise on Facebook, Google, one of the other platforms because they’re far more rewarding and they’re much easier to turn, and consequently there’s no income for local papers and they are dying. I don’t know about Ireland but in Britain they’re all but dead. And there were no local hacks."

Mr Snow told the audience at the gala that "online was king" when it came to news.

"I suddenly realised we were running into an age in which online was king but there was no money in it because Facebook pay us nothing at all but of course pile a huge number of advertisements onto our product in order to get an income.

"We have had talks with them, they say they’re thinking about beginning to pay us and so on, but here again you see great progress and yet also great retreat in terms of provision, which is a very interesting dilemma.

"Of course the real dilemma, nationally, both here in Ireland and in the United Kingdom, and across the western world, is in peril from the loss of advertising. We lost 5pc last year, because it’s all shifting online and they’re gobbling up our content. We love the reach, and 2.5 billion views is quite something - the fact that they only watched for 5 or 10 seconds is neither here nor there. The online world is key, science has prevailed and produced this instant, plastic, fake news."

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