Microsoft is putting together its own team of journalists to create news content for devices running off its Windows 8 operating system.
My first thought on the topic: ‘wow, more jobs in journalism’
This was quickly followed by the thought: ‘wow, is Microsoft actually producing journalism?’
Veteran journalists – and even newbies like me – are soon going to have to wise up to the fact that news companies are no longer the only producers of news.
In a new form of marketing strategy, corporate heavyweights are employing journalists and are creating content that will rival traditional newsrooms.
The AFL made the leap earlier this year, announcing its own digital journalism team that is set to create content to rival that of The Age and The Herald Sun’s sports coverage.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Google, Facebook or even Apple move into this space by forming their own newsrooms in the next year or two. It seems like a logical move, given that Microsoft’s already made the leap. Microsoft’s news is bittersweet, and here’s why:
Any announcement which indicates the possibility of more jobs in journalism is always a plus; especially given all of the reports of job cuts over the past couple of months.
Given that only particularly rich companies are funding these newsrooms, you can almost guarantee that they will be well resourced. This could mean that the journalists working in these newsrooms could get more time to source and create quality content, rather than having to churn out the workload of two reporters like their traditional media counterparts.
Finally, more voices in a democratic society is never a bad thing. A weak argument, I know, but my old journalism lecturers would never forgive me if I didn’t throw it in.
The most obvious question around Microsoft’s new newsroom is how it’s going to cover its own issues or other issues in the tech space. It would be highly foolish to assume that these companies are interested in journalistic ethical terms like ‘fairness’ or ‘balance’. One can only assume that Microsoft’s tech news will be anti-Apple and pro-Microsoft.
There’s also the risk that by creating a newsrooms, Microsoft will avoid giving any stories to the mainstream media and instead give ‘exclusive’ coverage of its products and events to its own journalists in a bid to control its coverage.
Finally, Microsoft’s move into news is a play at the digital advertising space. Meaning, that it’s attempting to gain some access to what little advertising dollars traditional newsrooms are clambering over in the page-impression ad space. It’s also got the added advantage of having its stories promoted to readers via their Windows device.
I like to think that online readers are pretty smart, and can tell a corporate ploy from real news. I’m also assuming that they will avoid it – but that may be going a bit far…
On the bias front, you can’t exactly label either Fairfax or News Ltd as being completely transparent in the coverage of their own affairs. I’m sure that they both try to be, but the public still needs convincing after their respective coverage of the London hacking saga and Gina-gate affair.
And… I haven’t read any news from inside the ABC about its newsroom restructure.
Perhaps there isn’t really a difference between corporate-run newsrooms and traditional newsrooms? Perhaps the only difference is the company’s primary revenue source? Be it advertising, or a product line.
Anyway, let me know what you think about corporate run newsrooms in the comments below. Keen to hear what some younger jounros or students may have to say, as these soon may be the only jobs available.
(On a side note, I’m getting much faster at writing these posts… this one only took 30 mins! I bet it shows though!)