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Big Revolution - Trust down the drain

Welcome to Tuesday's newsletter, coming to you from a very rainy Manchester. — Martin from Big Revolu
June 16 · Issue #747 · View online
Big Revolution
Welcome to Tuesday’s newsletter, coming to you from a very rainy Manchester.
— Martin from Big Revolution

Big things you need to know today
  • 2020’s most insane tech story: A bunch of (now former) eBay employees are accused of harassing a couple who were critical of the company in their newsletter, with deliveries of cockroaches and spiders, fake Craigslist ads, and more. The intention was to then ‘rescue them’ from the harassment to change their mind about eBay. 😳
  • WhatsApp has launched in-app payments, initially in Brazil. The system is built on top of Facebook’s own payments system. While in-app payments have been tested in India for months, this used a different system.
  • A video game is to be made available on prescription. The US Food & Drug Administration has approved Akili Interactive’s EndeavorRX as a treatment for kids with ADHD.
  • Epic Games is raising investment at an… epic… $17bn valuation. The Fortnite and Unreal Engine maker is said to be raising $750m.
The big thought
Down the drain... news media is untrusted. Credit: Denis Lesak on Unsplash
Down the drain... news media is untrusted. Credit: Denis Lesak on Unsplash
Trust down the drain
Trust in UK news media is in freefall particularly among left-leaning voters, the Guardian reports:
Just 15% of left-leaning voters now say they trust most news most of the time, down from 46% as recently as 2015, Oxford University’s Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism found.
The precipitous decline has coincided with enormous growth of social media audiences, rounds of cuts at almost every major news outlet, and strong criticism of media coverage of issues such as Brexit and Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour party.
“Trust in the news has fallen over 20 percentage points since 2015,” concluded the authors of the Reuters Institute’s annual digital news report. “Even the most trusted brands like the BBC are seen by many as pushing or suppressing agendas, especially over polarising issues like Brexit.”
As this newsletter has mentioned in the past, the decline in trust is sometimes justified. Political journalists too often cut corners and treat each utterance from their unnamed sources as gospel, without considering if they’re being played or not. But, even when they do their jobs well, journalists neglect to share how their newsgathering works, leading to overblown conspiracy theories spreading about even the most minor mistake.
And as Jim Waterson of the Guardian tweeted this morning, it’s not just the media to blame for the decline in trust. Politicians exploit declining trust to rally their supporters in the face of true stories that make them look bad (“it’s fake news,” “it’s shoddy journalism”). And every time the public reads a viral social media post about how ‘the BBC isn’t covering’ a story they absolutely are, it hammers home the message that the media is not to be trusted.
So there’s lots of blame to spread around when it comes to declining trust in the media. And we’ll all lose out when the trust is completely gone. But only the media can solve it, by not only acting in a trustworthy way, but by respecting the audience and sharing more about how it gathers and disseminates news. With a concerted effort, they could around the situation around.
One big read
A Conspiracy Made in America May Have Been Spread by Russia A Conspiracy Made in America May Have Been Spread by Russia
A look at how Russian state-sponsored trolls have shifted gears when targeting the US. Now they can simply amplify Americans’ own crazy theories, rather than invent new ones.
One big tweet
My friend and former colleague Mic Wright is fighting a good fight against a powerful opponent. At the time of writing he’s raised almost £11,000 in less than 24 hours, but he could do with your support if you’re able to help.
Mic Wright
I'm crowdfunding a defamation action against Sarah Vine of the Daily Mail. The page is now live. The first person who donates can have a custom poem from me on whatever topic they like
That’s all for today...
Back tomorrow with more.
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