(The Center Square) – The former editor-in-chief of BuzzFeed News says many factors have led the way to the rise and waning digital news world.
Ben Smith is out with a new book called, “Traffic: Genius, Rivalry, and Delusion in the Billion-Dollar Race to Go Viral.” He told the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale last month that the close relationship between social media and news is no accident, as BuzzFeed realized that the companies would one day be a source of revenue.
“Instead of going to NYTimes.com, or BuzzFeed.com, or some website, you would sit down at your desktop computer and type in Facebook.com or Twitter.com, and stories would come to you through the platform,” Smith said.
He said that created a challenge for publishers on how to get content onto Facebook and Twitter.
Smith believes consumers have moved away from Facebook. This as the company is moving away from news and related links is an effort to keep consumers on their platform.
Smith said the transformation to the digital era has had an impact on news content.
“We’re going to publish the things that reporters talk to each other about in bars, not the things they put on the page, which at times are more honest in a salutary way too,” said Smith.
Smith said the desire to increase traffic on news websites created plenty of problems, but the unintended consequences it produced was dishonesty and self-censorship.
“If Facebook’s staff thought Barack Obama was the culmination of what they’d built, it turned out he was just a way station on the road to Donald Trump,” Smith writes.
Smith said the constant flow of information through social media sites is overwhelming people and moving media consumers closer to the end of this digital news era.
“I think more broadly, with social networks, the reason they’re not like cable wires, they’re more like bars or clubs. Like, you go there because your friends are there, and then at some point your friends go somewhere else and you go somewhere else,” Smith told The Intercept.