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Algorithms and Public Interest? Protecting pluralism and diversity in media and communication

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Algorithms and Public Interest? Protecting pluralism and diversity in media and communication

  1. 1. Dr Jonathon Hutchinson, Department of Media and Communication, University of Sydney. @dhutchman Algorithms and Public Interest? Protecting pluralism and diversity in media and communication Etmaal van de Communicatiewetenschap, February 5 2021
  2. 2. This talk describes algorithmic public service media as an automation mechanism and media policy lever in contrast to its popular commercial counterparts, for example recommender systems on Netflix, Spotify and so on, that utilise digital intermediation for increased diversity exposure. While commercial algorithmic content service providers have been exceptionally successful in global media market dominance, they are driven by user popularity and tend to ignore the social good and cohesion that public service media institutions are legislated to perform. This is certainly a space and raison de’être for algorithmic PSM in the contemporary media ecology.
  3. 3. While on social media…
  4. 4. Emerging Media Automation ❖ “The imperative to capture all data, from all sources, by any means possible influences many key decisions about business models, political governance, and technological development… By understanding data as a form capital, we can better analyse the meaning, practices, and implications of datafication as a political economic regime” (Sadowski, 2019) ❖ “…platformization: the penetration of economic and infrastructural extensions of online platforms into the web, affecting the production, distribution, and circulation of cultural content” (Nieborg & Poell, 2018) ❖ The question then, is, how can PSM utilise digital media to ensure its legislated requirements are met within an increasing automated and algorithmic environment?
  5. 5. Digital Intermediation
  6. 6. –Ted Striphas, 2015 “What is at stake in algorithmic culture is the gradual abandonment of culture’s publicness and the emergence of a strange new breed of elite culture purporting to be its opposite.”
  7. 7. Algorithmic Media ❖ Positive algorithmed media: connecting specific media with niche audiences of interest ❖ Negative algorithmed media: bias (Noble, 2018), politics (Bucher, 2018), discrimination through design (Whittaker et al., 2019) ❖ The need to move beyond using algorithms and towards a nuanced algorithmic PSM
  8. 8. What Does Algorithmic PSM Look Like? Commercial Platforms PSM Algorithmic Media ‘Reithian’ values Social responsibility to cohesion Popular vs ‘important’ Arguably high public value Personalisation Critical Analytics Digital Intermediation Large audiences/users
  9. 9. –Van de Bulck and Moe (2017, p.5) “Explicit personalisation involves a user making deliberate choices before receiving content, for example, asking news aggregator Google News to focus only on sports. Implicit personalisation is done by algorithms that process traces of previous choices to build a base for future personalisation, for example, through contextual recommendations, geo-tagging or filtering”
  10. 10. Shyam Sundar & Nass Thurman et al. Credibility Biased, Fair, Objective Liking Boring, Enjoyable, Interesting, Lively, Pleasing Quality Clear, Coherent, Comprehensive, Concise, Well-written Representativeness Important, Relevant, Timely Accurate, Believable, Disturbing, Informative, Sensationalistic Critical Analytics
  11. 11. Critical Analytics
  12. 12. Diversity. Exposure. Influence. ❖ Increasing benefit/challenge scenario of PSM operating on platforms ❖ The idea of the publics needs to shift to communities of interest ❖ Measurement needs to extend beyond vanity metrics or PSB values
  13. 13. Algorithmic PSM as Policy Lever ❖ “The ACCC found that digital platforms have become unavoidable trading partners of news media businesses, providing them with substantial bargaining power.” Minister Frydenberg, 2020. ❖ However, the Bill excludes PSM!
  14. 14. “The proposed Code excludes both public broadcasters from the bargaining framework…” ABC Submission to the ACCC, 2020
  15. 15. Where to now? ❖ Include digital intermediation as a cultural production process within public media ❖ Continue the development of a measurement metric that integrates existing PSM values, social media vanity metrics, and social development - critical analytics ❖ Support from governments for their public media organisations to engage in a level playing field with tech giants - algorithmic PSM as a policy lever
  16. 16. Dr Jonathon Hutchinson, Department of Media and Communication, University of Sydney. @dhutchman Algorithms and Public Interest? Protecting pluralism and diversity in media and communication Etmaal van de Communicatiewetenschap, February 5 2021

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