On May 17, Mr. Robert James Thomson, the chief executive officer of News Corp, visited Waseda University to give a special lecture titled “Media Giants vs Facebook & Google”.
News Corporation, or News Corp, headquartered in New York, is a leading media corporation, affiliated with media outlets such as The Times in the U.K. and The Wall Street Journal, Harper Collins in the U.S. This special event was organized by the Waseda Journalism School, giving Waseda students a chance to pick up on the latest media issues presented by one of the most influential media leaders of the world. More than 100 students and faculty with special interest in media and journalism attended the event.
Mr. Thomson briefly discussed the history of the relationship between traditional media and the audience, and how editors in the past worked hard to guarantee the veracity of news. He stated that the new generation is growing up in an environment overloaded with information, profoundly influencing the dissemination, understanding and objectivity of it.
He then talked about the responsibility of an emerging digital platform and its impact on the perspective of people towards the media and authenticity. Mr. Thomson cautioned against the usage of algorithms and AI without careful supervision, and remarked on the invariable danger of using such to abuse people’s psychological conditions. “Social platforms do good, but they are also anti-social, and idealism cannot be used as an excuse for deleterious behavior,” stated Mr. Thomson.
For a decade, Mr. Thomson has been closely observing the digital platform and muses about the tendency of the technology in media industry. Mr. Thomson believes that platforms should change their ways to benefit publishers’ long-term business models, and that the collaboration should be enhanced. He made it apparent that the digital world is dysfunctional, to some extent.
Sometimes you make the conscious choice.
A Q&A session followed Mr. Thomson’s speech. Mr. Daisuke Furuta, the founding editor of BuzzFeed Japan and alumni of Waseda University, acted as the moderator in the session.
Below are some questions answered during the Q&A session.
Question: News organizations decide what to and what not to report. Is this process done by algorithm or manually?
Mr. Thomson: As for Google, you are not choosing the provider yet the providers are chosen for you. To some extent, it is done by algorithm. And sometimes you make the conscious choice.
Question: Usually, when a journalist tries to dig for the truth, he gathers information or perspectives from different sources. The veracity of the information-gathered, however, cannot be guaranteed. What is the solution to this?
Mr. Thomson: In this case, editors often play an indispensable role to ensure the accuracy. Admittedly, journalists are striving to guarantee the reliability of the truth, but it is still hard to meet perfection.
Question: Nowadays, authors running new media platforms acquire considerable income while journalists are paid relatively low, even though those social media writers may not transmit the truth to the public. Then, what is the prospect for the traditional media in this rapidly changing industry?
Mr. Thomson: Indeed, it is a problem around the world, but an attribute of journalist is dialog, which is irreplaceable.
An attribute of a journalist is dialog, which is irreplaceable.
Before the special event, Mr. Thomson met with Kaoru Kamata, President of Waseda University at Okuma Kaikan, and talked about research, education, and sports – especially rugby football – at Waseda University.
Special Lecture : “Media Giants Vs Facebook and Google”
Speaker: Robert Thomson (News Corp CEO)
Moderator: Daisuke Furuta (BuzzFeed Japan Founding Editor)
Thursday, May 17th 2018 15:30~16:15
Ono Auditorium, Waseda University
Waseda Journalism School