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Is ‘that TikTok video’ a chance for some real education?

By Seamus Byrne in Media News on
Which way did you go with your TikTok video coverage?
Did you go the full Ray Shaw at Gadget Guy? Sticking in the steel-capped boot to call it out as not just a platform for “extremist hate, hardcore porn, [and] snuff clips…” but that it is designed as an attack vector to help nation-states get into our heads?
Or did you go the softly spoken educational route like The Conversation? There you’ll find a long piece that looked into the need for social media giants to work together on moderation systems and the need to work on better digital citizenship.
Shaw wonders: “Now you can’t tell me that this omnipotent, all-seeing AI can’t pick this up. TikTok claims its AI is 99% effective as a content monitor. It can, but it does not appear to be stopping it as it earns advertising revenue from every view.”
But The Conversation counters: “Some have noted social media platforms appear very adept at quickly removing copyrighted material from their services (and thereby avoiding huge fines), but can seem more tardy when it comes to disturbing content… copyright videos are, in many ways, easier for machine learning moderation systems to detect.”
There’s no question one of these offers a clear answer to what the journalist wants you to do. “TikTok is not a necessary part of life – delete it now.” Simple. Direct. Problem solved.
Meanwhile, on breakfast television yesterday the usual social media scaremongers got plenty of airtime. Val Quinn demonstrated removing the app from the devices while waiting for this to blow over and how to prevent kids from reinstalling the app. (Good live demo, by the way!)
News national technology editor Jen Dudley-Nicholson created a careful, well considered video that ran on platforms, offering advice from experts on how to manage the situation, both in a preventative and a reactive sense.
One ABC story also did a solid explainer on the specific problem, preventative measures, ways to have a good conversation with a kid that has seen the video, and understanding how real the impact of such a video can be.
Some stories called the Prime Minister’s video an “impassioned attack”, which led to my surprise that it actually felt quite carefully approached overall and not just a simple attack. Yes, a lot of finger pointing, and a lot of “we will hold you responsible”, but it took a broader perspective than just blaming TikTok for bad things being on the internet.
What’s missing?
There was plenty more out there, of course. But a lot of what seemed to be missing was something deeper than “blame TikTok” or “think of the children” coverage.
This is a great chance to explain why AI moderation can’t solve everything. How trolls have gotten very good at dodging AI detection filters. How automation can’t solve everything. And how this was all caused by a failure of human moderation in the first place.
Facebook’s first reaction to reports was to say the livestream did not breach community standards. Get that right the first time and the video would not exist. And with a better and more universal approach to moderation (some stories covered this well), an algorithmic hash shared to all platforms could have meant the video could have been stopped in its tracks before the viral / troll runaway feedback loop was set in motion on Sunday (more than a week after the original livestream).
And then there’s the wider question that horrible things exist on the internet and any one app or ‘social media’ as the bugbear is not the only place kids can come to harm online. Too many debates start and end at what the platforms should do, or what we should avoid, and don’t spend enough time on how we help people navigate the tricky culture of growing up in a digital world.
Of course, big questions are hard to make into catchy and quotable soundbites without being reductive, and we do need some clear and sharp answers along the way when something is blowing up in real-time.
But a few more pointers to where the big issues lie out there would help more people develop their navigation skills too. And those with tech expertise should be the ones to do what we can to help navigate the path to being a little smarter about it all in the end.

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Hills Radio set for closure

By Jonas Lopez in Media News on

Mt Barker, SA station Hills Radio 88.9FM is now marked for closure, effective 30 September. 

The closure was made official after the ACMA awarded Lofty Community Media Inc the long-term community radio broadcasting licence for the 88.9FM frequency. 

Hills Radio started airing in 2014, but has shared the frequency with Lofty since November 2018. 

Formal applications for the full licence covering Mt Barker, however, have been filed with ACMA since October last year and Hills Radio were asked to detail to ACMA their business and coverage model.

“ making its decision ACMA considered the extent to which the proposed services would meet the needs of the local community, and the capacity of the applicants to provide the proposed service. It considers that community participation and engagement are the cornerstone of community broadcasting. We considered that we more than met the greatest requirement, but ACMA considered our application did not meet that requireme

AAP receives fresh government funds

By Jonas Lopez in Media News on

The Australian Associated Press (AAP) has received a new cash grant from the federal government, totaling $5m.

AAP CEO Emma Cowdroy said the money, allotted under the Public Interest News Gathering program, is programmed to support the company’s operations, especially with uncertainties under the pandemic. The cash grant is covered under a funding agreement enacted with the AAP’s acquisition by an impact investment team led by Peter Tonagh.

At the time of the announcement, the AAP was running a GoFundMe campaign with around $120K raised so far and aiming for $500K.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has triggered unprecedented challenges for Australia’s regional media sector, with severe declines in advertising revenue threatening the sustainability of many news outlets. The AAP newswire provides services to more than 250 regional news mastheads across Australia, covering public interest content on national, state and regional news. This allows regional mastheads to conc

Helping journos make the most of early morning announcements

By Seamus Byrne in Media News on
Last week was one of those classic weeks when there were multiple reasons for Australian journalists to get up before the sun – or stay up – to cover big events taking place in US focused timezones.
It’s something Australian sports fans have always endured if they want to catch the big global events live, so it’s not like tech and games are the only industries where this happens. But it’s one of those things that often gets a begrudging “here we go again” response from journos on social media.
But, for the most part, I think many of those who do get up early for these things enjoy the sense of occasion that such an early alarm means. Yep, it’s ‘just’ a new product, or a new game, and if the event isn’t super exciting in the end the cries of “I got up for this???” ring loudly across Twitter timelines. But, usually, if you’re covering this it’s because you already had a love for the

Northern Rivers Review set to emerge in October

By Jonas Lopez in Media News on

NSW’s Northern Rivers region is soon to be the subject of a new Australian Community Media (ACM) title, called the Northern Rivers Review. 

Scheduled to go live on 29 October, the Northern Rivers Review will be for readers in Lismore, Ballina, Richmond River, and Byron Bay. ACM is setting $2 for a print edition and $2 for a weekly digital subscription. 

Former The Lismore Echo editor Sophie Mueller has been appointed as the Northern Rivers Review’s editor. 

"Being a local business owner and having spent many years coming to the Byron area, I couldn't be happier to be launching a new publication in the area I care so much about. Our focus has been to listen to the people and build a local team, which will focus on local stories, issues and the region's best real estate,” said ACM chairman Anthony Catalano.

Tonic Health Media rebrands to Tonic Media Network

By Jonas Lopez in Media News on

Tonic Health Media has debuted its new business name: Tonic Media Network (pictured).

Company managing director/CEO Dr Matthew Cullen said the name change was driven by a need to expand the company’s business remit beyond being a simple health portal. This included the development of a new digital-out-of-home platform with Vistar, Hivestack, and Broadsign; the creation of the Chemist2U ecommerce platform, and the purchase of health content website

The company also had grown up to 50 staff since starting business in 2014.

“We are constantly looking at new and innovative ways to connect people to relevant consumer messaging when they need it most and this rebrand is the latest evolution of that vision. Building upon Tonic’s existing reputation in the market, we’re excited to continue growing under this new banner to become the largest lifestyle, health and wellbeing media network in Australia,” added Cullen.

Lambert in charge of Women’s Agenda

By Jonas Lopez in Media News on

Women’s Agenda publisher and co-owner Tarla Lambert has taken over as editor-in-chief.

Co-founder and editor Angela Priestley said that after eight years running the editorial side of the company, she had opted to let Lambert run that side of the business. She herself will become the new strategy chief and creative director, in charge of podcasts and new partner content campaigns.

Lambert joined Women’s Agenda in 2015 as associate publisher but was moved up to publisher/co-owner in 2017.

“Building Agenda Media and @WomensAgenda with @angelapriestley and our dynamo team has been one of my biggest life highlights. I couldn’t be happier to be the new editor in chief and keep growing our footprint. Small, female-led teams do huge things,” Tweeted Lambert.

Follow Lambert on LinkedIn.

Harding flies home

By Jonas Lopez in Media News on

KIIS 101.1 FM breakfast co-host Polly “PJ” Harding has flown home to New Zealand, reported Radio Today. 

Parent company ARN stated that she was opting to return home and set up a remote studio link to continue the show with Jase for the remainder of 2020. 

She will return to Australia in early 2021.

Stay tuned with Harding on Twitter @PJHardingZM.

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