They used to have a monopoly on reach. Readers came to directly to them. Today that role belongs largely to tech companies. Media companies are heavily dependent on the algorithms and whims of the likes of Google, Twitter, Facebook, Apple, and Amazon. And it's not just distribution: it's their business models, too. Apple taking a cut of NYC subscription revenue, Amazon doing similar things through its Kindle devices, Facebook and Google ads, etc.
This would be an existentially terrifying position for any business to be in. And as much as the media likes to portray itself as putting truth-seeking and objectivity first, it's still very much a collection of self-interested profit-seeking businesses.
When you're the media and you're faced with this situation, what do you do? What weapon do you have? Your content of course.
It doesn't need to amount to full-scale propaganda or anything obvious. You simply hire writers and editors who are themselves anti-tech, and results will follow. Even if you don't hire that way as a media organization, your employees' incentives are aligned such that they should naturally lean anti-tech, given the realities of the business situation and its effect on their jobs.
True, but the NYT was actually one of the first to try and move past their print origins and try a new business model.
They also employed Mike Bostocks (author of d3.js) for a while, and they had a highly regarded interactive section.
Tech has been a public boogeyman for a long time. Tech causes everything from global warming to cancer.
One of the first?
Actually, the San Jose Mercury News had its Mercury Center up and running in 1992. For a time, only the Mercury and WSJ were serious players.
If anything, the majors (NYT, Guardian, The Economist, WSJ) have a lot to gain when local journalism dies because of technology.
Journalists look down on the advertising and classifieds departments. The consider it beneath their worthiness. If you think they're hiring because they give a shit about the lowlies who pay to keep the lights on, you haven't worked in the trade.
But does anyone think print journalists haven't noticed their industry is fucked and loads of people are getting laid off? No need to break the firewall between editorial and ad sales to know that Gannett cut 400 jobs in January, McClatchy cut 450 jobs in February, BuzzFeed cut 200 jobs in January, and so on.
Reporting on shitty behaviour by tech companies isn't an anti-tech stance. It's reporting. If what you want is PR puff pieces and sloppy butt-kissing, Wired has the pro-tech angle well covered.
I mean do you actually think it's an interview question at the Times? "Tell me how much you hate Google, in words of three syllables or less". This is a literal conspiracy theory, and it's embarrassing.
Everyone hates journalists, who aren't used to dealing with them. Everyone feels victimised when it's their turn. I've seen it more than once. Hell, I've been on the receiving end of shitty coverage. But it wasn't an agenda any more complex than "does this make a good story?"
I merely find it plausible that a critical view on the tech giants is more popular among people whose jobs are threatened by tech than among the likes of us, whose jobs are created by tech. No conspiracy required for what I'm saying.
Yeah, I see a much stronger/more direct incentive for the second one. And this makes blanket statements in the spirit of "media cannot be unbiased about tech" on this site kinda worthless.
Media does screw up and can be bias. Criticizing that on an individual case by case basis is fine. Spinning a general they-vs-us narrative less so.
So you think their business being endangered because of
changes caused by tech makes them incapable of reporting
I think we actually agree more than you think: I believe that both the press and HN posters have biases; and that opinion on HN will pay relatively less attention to criticisms of tech, while the press will be relatively more critical.
For example, HN popular opinion would broadly say "self-service/user-generated content can be automatically filtered, but some things will inevitably get through because there's just so much stuff, dealing with that stuff after it's been posted is the only option" whereas the press would broadly say "we can't ignore this problem, and if a working solution means self-service/user-generated content isn't scalable, that's just too bad"
I see this division on deceptive ads, and satirical news being repeated as true, and I suspect we'll see it on self-radicalisation and livestreamed shootings too.
First, journalists don't run the organization and aren't in control of business decisions. If their disdain of the advertising arm of the business amounted to anything, there wouldn't be an advertising arm of the business. There are ads injected into the middle of their articles because higher powers than the journalists are making business decisions.
Second, journalists don't need to like the media's business model to become subservient to it. Both ad and subscription revenue are fueled by pageviews. To align incentives, you simply reward journalists who write popular articles, and reward editors for doing what they can to make articles more popular. It's not some mysterious coincidence that media tends to produce sensationalist articles and headlines. (And as I mentioned initially, it's quite effective to simply bend toward hiring journalists who already care about this.)
Who is controlling what articles end up on the front page? Are the programmers at Google and Facebook who don't like ads the ones in control of either of these two companies' business models? This just isn't how businesses work.
Businesses are incentive chains crafted by top-down decision-makers who aim to get sales-and-programmers, ads-and-journalists, and other business units who don't like each other to nonetheless work together to achieve a singular goal.
The front-page story on Vox right now is a take-down of tech in light of the NZ shootings: https://imgur.com/a/Li9zcAC