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Big Revolution - Saving local news, or not

Welcome to Monday's Big Revolution, folks. – Martin
November 19 · Issue #267 · View online
Big Revolution
Welcome to Monday’s Big Revolution, folks.

Big things you need to know today
  • The UK is ‘wholly’ unprepared to stop a devastating cyber-attack, a committee of MPs has warned. I suspect many other countries are in the same boat.
The big thought
Credit: Bank Phrom on Unsplash
Credit: Bank Phrom on Unsplash
Saving local news, or not
The Sunday Times reported yesterday that Facebook wants to fund training for local journalists in the UK.
As a headline, that’s an intriguing one. After all, Google has funded all sorts of local news projects through its Digital News Innovation Fund, and the BBC has a Local News Partnerships programme that helps support local reporting. Could Facebook be looking to do something similar to help boost its reputation after a barrage of negative stories about fake news and its fraught relationship with news publishers?
That would certainly be interesting, but I don’t think that’s what’s happening here.
From the report (emphasis mine):
“The Sunday Times understands that Facebook and the three local paper publishers are discussing a scheme under which Facebook’s money could be used to train reporters on how to use its social media platform as a reporting resource.
So this isn’t about training up new reporters to generate more local news, it’s a lot more lightweight – it’s training existing reporters… to use Facebook.
I did a similar course with LinkedIn once. It was an hour-long webinar on using LinkedIn as a research tool. They gave me a free six-month premium membership too, which was useful. Facebook’s proposal sounds like it could literally just be this – without even the free account, since you can’t pay to use Facebook.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with this in isolation, but it’s certainly not a ‘plan to help revive UK local press,’ as the Sunday Times’ headline suggests.
Facebook is certainly not afraid to pull out its wallet to fund a better future for news. It helped fund the News Integrity Initiative in the USA, for example. But if you’re looking for Facebook to help fund better local news journalism, the activity in this news story certainly doesn’t seem to be it.
One big read
Inside the Flat Earth Conference, Where the World’s Oldest Conspiracy Theory Is Hot Again
“Thanks to YouTube, an idea discredited thousands of years ago attracts die-hards, grifters, and trolls. They even have their own convention.” A look at why people embrace the idea that the Earth is flat.
One big tweet
Happy birthday for yesterday, Fail Whale! Click through for the slideshow.
Yiying Lu 🐳 🥟 陆怡颖
It has been 10 years since my art piece "Lifting a Dreamer" became the Twitter Fail Whale, a symbol as @Twitter's service outrage during 2008-2013. It has inspired hundreds, probably thousands, of funny, clever & amusing homages and take-offs from users globally. Here are a few:
That’s all for today...
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