Metamorphosis – the changing face of Australian communications

There is more on the table than money.

Digital, Artificial Intelligence, Digital Media, Facebook, Technology

Ray Jordan 19 Apr 2024
2 mins

While the stakes are high in the current stoush between the Australian Government and Meta, the company behind Facebook and Instagram, there is more on the table than money. 

For Australia at least, it may mean an entirely different landscape for media, communications and information dissemination. In short, a seismic shift in the media and communications paradigm. Thanks to Meta, the world of communications is morphing into a new era. 

But first some background.  

The current agreement between Meta and the news outlets is due to expire soon, and Meta has notified the Federal Government that it has no intention of negotiating new terms.

Meta’s refusal to negotiate with Australian media outlets for content sharing and payment is a major challenge for the news industry in the country. Meta maintains that it benefits publishers by driving traffic to their websites and does not owe them anything for using snippets of their articles on its platforms. 

The Australian Government disagrees and plans to enforce the News Media Bargaining Code, a detailed series of provisions added to the Competition and Consumer Act by the Morrison government in 2021. This would force Meta to enter into arbitration with publishers and pay them a fair price for their content. 

Meta’s decision could have serious consequences for the Australian news ecosystem, especially for smaller and independent publishers who rely on social media for exposure and revenue. 

Meta has previously threatened to pull news content from its platforms in Australia, as it did in Canada, if it does not get its way, which could harm the diversity and quality of news sources available to the public. 

If Meta refuses to share news content from reputable media organisations, there is a risk that users of Facebook and Instagram will only have access to unverified or misleading information. And Meta’s platforms have already been accused of spreading misinformation, hate speech, and extremist content.  

It means that journalists and media organisations will need to find alternative ways to reach and engage their audiences, such as newsletters, podcasts, or direct subscriptions, and to hold Meta accountable for its impact on the media landscape. 

If we have relied primarily on media coverage to tell our story, we will need to accept that audiences may soon be consuming the media in different ways – or not consuming it at all if the only access to news content is through social media posts. 

A positive is that negative stories may not have the impact they once did – assuming negative media content would no longer be shared widely on social media. 

So once again we need to come to terms with yet another new public communications rule book., requiring new strategies to maximise positive coverage, and minimise negative issues when the ability for announcements to accelerate exponentially through social media and digital is no longer available. 

 In the future it will require greater creativity and understanding to achieve maximum impact. Against this new communications backdrop, it is now more vital than ever that we understand our audiences, how they access news content, and who they trust to bring them their news. 

Ray Jordan More from author

Ray is one of Western Australia’s most highly-regarded corporate communicators and strategists, recognised for his pragmatic and creative approach to major projects across different sectors.

Before moving to corporate communications, he held executive positions in the media – including the role of Deputy Editor of The West Australian – and has a proven ability to craft messages that resonate with both journalists and readers.

Ray’s knowledge of the media and respected corporate counsel at executive and board levels have been demonstrated through his direct involvement in the sale and subsequent partial public float of BankWest, including the communications program for a Scheme of Arrangement for majority shareholder HBOS to acquire the minority shareholding in BankWest.

After a lengthy career in corporate communications and the media, Ray continues to seek challenges and avenues to vent his creativity. He has written about wine for nearly 40 years, including 22 books – the latest of which is The Way It Was, which chronicles the history of Margaret River.

If he’s not writing or tasting wine, he might be found strumming his guitar to Tom Petty or writing travel features, after his regular morning boxing sessions.

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