Fake news furry a pos­i­tive for jour­nal­ism fu­ture

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - BHEKI MBANJWA

THE cur­rent up­roar over fake news can work to the me­dia’s ad­van­tage as au­di­ences are in­creas­ingly de­mand­ing cred­i­ble jour­nal­ism.

Vin­cent Peyrègne, the chief ex­ec­u­tive of WAN-IFRA (World As­so­ci­a­tion of News­pa­pers and News Pub­lish­ers) made these com­ments yes­ter­day dur­ing a pre­sen­ta­tion on the ma­jor de­vel­op­ments within the me­dia in­dus­try over the past year.

Ad­dress­ing a ses­sion dur­ing the sec­ond day of the World News Me­dia Congress in Dur­ban, Peyrègne said the past year had been a roller-coaster ride for the me­dia with au­di­ences los­ing trust in tra­di­tional me­dia while show­ing a grow­ing in­ter­est in dig­i­tal plat­forms.

He said in South Africa, it has be­come rife es­pe­cially as the coun­try is ap­proach­ing the ANC’s elec­tive con­fer­ence.

In­ad­ver­tently the phe­nom­e­non of fake news has also led to the emer­gence of fact-check­ing mech­a­nisms and in­sti­tu­tions such as Africa Check.

“We need to cham­pion the suc­cess of such ini­tia­tives: they show that read­ers are look­ing for re­li­able jour­nal­ism, and so­lu­tions. Trust in dis­cern­ing me­dia providers is in­creas­ingly pre­cious, and news­rooms at the heart of trusted me­dia or­gan­i­sa­tions are the er­ror cor­rec­tion of the In­ter­net. There is a lot to be done.”

In his pre­sen­ta­tion, Peyrègne said the me­dia is en­ter­ing an era where users un­der­stand that good jour­nal­ism has value, and are pre­pared to pay for it.

“While trust in tra­di­tional me­dia gen­er­ally is fall­ing, read­ers of the most trusted news sources are in­creas­ingly pre­pared to pay for ac­cess. Dig­i­tal reader rev­enues grew by 28% from 2015 to 2016,” he said.

The trends show that there has been growth in dig­i­tal sub­scrip­tions with many publi­ca­tions now hav­ing be­tween 20 to 30% dig­i­tal-only sub­scribers, he said. The New York Times and the Times in the UK are some of the suc­cess sto­ries glob­ally.

A re­cent Me­dia In­sight Sur­vey by the Amer­i­can Press In­sti­tute con­firms that there is sub­stan­tial ev­i­dence that more con­sumers could be­gin pay­ing for news in the fu­ture.

“Half of those who do not pay for news ac­tively seek out news and be­have as sub­scribers would in var­i­ous ways. Nearly 2 in 10 of those who don’t sub­scribe to news said they may start do­ing so.”

WAN-IFRA will this year launch part­ner­ships with the In­no­va­tion re­search group and Chart­beat which will help with form­ing a more com­plete pic­ture on the be­hav­iour of dig­i­tal au­di­ences. He added: “Peo­ple seek ex­plana­tory sto­ries, jour­nal­ism that helps make sense of the chaos around them.”


PROFIT: Vin­cent Peyrègne, CEO of WAN-IFRA

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