5 Things We Learned From Storyology 2017

Brought to you by The Walkley Foundation

The Walkley Foundation celebrates and encourages great Australian journalism, telling the stories of our nation and strengthening our democracy.

In August, Australia’s premiere media summit, Storyology, took place across Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney. Over the course of eight days a stellar line-up of local and international media professionals discussed the future of journalism and the craft of storytelling.

Speakers including BuzzFeed’s Craig Silverman, Facebook’s Áine Kerr, Rappler’s Maria Ressa and Gold Walkey award winner Caro Meldrum-Hanna talked about the challenges of fake news, how social media companies can work collaboratively with media organisations, and how to create impactful and engaging stories.

Every year the Walkley Foundation excites and motivates the media industry their Storyology festival, so we thought we’d pick a few highlights to share with everyone who couldn’t make it along this time.

Facebook Has A Bunch Of Helpful Tools For Journalists

Over the past couple of years there’s been intense debate about the role Facebook plays in curating the media. The social media giant is the primary news source for hundreds of millions of people, and it’s often opaque processes have been a source of confusion for publishers, editors and journalists.

Áine Kerr, the manager of Facebook’s Global Journalism Partnerships, delivered a keynote presentation in Sydney to discuss to Facebook Journalism Project and the ways the organisation is trying to work to build better relationships with journalists.

Recent initiatives include Facebook tools like CrowdTangle that can help editors and journalists better understand how news travels online and the rollout of online courses for digital journalists.

Australia Has A Media Diversity Problem, But People Are Working On Solutions

There were a few different panels and talks at this year’s Storyology focused on the issue of diversity in the media industry including the ‘Media in full colour: Reflecting the real community’ session.

Studies have demonstrated Australia’s media scene is largely drawn from a narrow section of the community but Storyology heard from Media Diversity Australia co-founder Isabel Lo, the ABC’s Head of Community Engagement, Michele Fonseca, NITV’s Allan Clarke and KQED’s Silicon Valley correspondent Tonya Mosley, about the challenges and potential solutions.

There’s Been A Boom In Hyper-Partisan News Sites

This slide is from a talk given by BuzzFeed’s fake news guru, Craig Silverman, who spoke of the proliferation of fake social media accounts, fake sites, insidious bots, and hyper-partisan “news” sites.

This proliferation of partisan sites is bad news. It means a person can go through their whole day only consuming news that aligns with their world view and never being exposed to contradictory information. They never get the other side of the story.
As Silverman wrote in August, this is a lucrative business, and really, really bad news for truthful reporting.

You Can’t Always Believe What You See

Here’s another slide from Silverman, showing a fake page that looks an awful lot like The Guardian, which is an actual, trusted news site. These days, you’ve even got to double check the URL you’re viewing, just to make sure you’re looking at the real deal.

That little i with a circle around it is a sign that the site you’re looking at isn’t secure.

The Australian Media Can Fix Its Trust Problem

As Guardian Australia editor Lenore Taylor pointed out, Essential’s 2017 Trust In Media report found that Australians’ trust their news sources less than ever. In fact, Australian news sources are trusted less than their US counterparts, which is pretty amazing when you think about it.

Taylor says that to remedy this, news outlets will need to listen to their readers more, which means more than just providing clickbait.

“To win and maintain and keep that trust, we have to really know and understand what our readers want from us, which is a much more complicated question than just what they click on. It requires a deeper knowledge than we ever needed before,” she said.

Taylor told the audience that in order to re-gain the trust of readers, news organisations have to actually listen to them, and not just think of readers as abstract “targets”. She said also said it’s important to be open to criticism, or even sometimes to stand up to readers when a story is worthy of being defended.

The Guardian editor said another key is for publications to show their working and explain exactly how it is they came to publish a story, and why it’s important, something not enough organisations do now.

But there is hope, Taylor says.

“The thing I’ve been finding most encouraging in this process at The Guardian, is that the sorts of stories are telling us they want to read — the sorts of stories they’re responding to most positively — are very often exactly the sorts of stories that I want to commission — in-depth stories, investigations [and] stories that put the daily spin of the news in place and context.”

(Lead image: ABC Four Corners’ Caro Meldrum-Hanna spoke about fake news at this year’s Storyology. Photo: Facebook)