The 2018 World Media Economic and Management Conference has kicked off in Cape Town, where the world’s leading scholars of media business and media management have gathered to discuss issues affecting the media industry.
The global media summit comes at a time where the current policies of the media industry are being questioned with calls for regulation increasing. The Cambridge Analytica “saga” has put the spotlight on tech giants and how much control they have over the information we consume as audience.
Director of the Sol Plaatje Institute for Media Leadership at Rhodes University, Francis Mdlongwa, believes that it is important that the summit critically examines and proffers workable solutions that are based on solid research evidence to counter the existential threat that we are experiencing. Mdlongwa further adds that in what is supposed to be a more open and transparent digital and social age we are being closed, monopolized and dominated by a few technological platforms.
According to Professor Sylvia Chan-Olmstead from the University of Florida, we are being dominated by a few technological platforms because the tech companies model is centred on building consumer connection and communities, while the model for traditional platforms is centred around public interest. Tech giants have seen a gap in the need for consumer centric approach when it comes to the media and they have taken advantage of that. But, what does this mean for traditional platforms should they collaborate with tech companies or is it a situation of co-opetition between the two. Chan-Olmstead believes that for media and tech companies the magic is in the balance of quality, quantity, contexts and responsibility because there has been some concern about the quality of journalism as well as the responsibility of tech companies combating fake news.
Head of Policy Programme at Media Monitoring Africa, Thandi Smith believes in order for issues such as “dodgy” news to tackled with, digital literacy projects need to be introduced in order for audience to spot “dodgy” or “fake” news. Over the last couple of years, there certainly has been a rise in “fake” news, which is concerning. However, with the introduction of more digital literacy projects there is hope that the quality of journalism will improve with the audience holding those reporting news also accountable.