We need a national renewables approach, or some states – like NSW – will miss out

In the absence of federal policy, states are pursing their own renewable targets.Karsten Würth/UnsplashAustralia’s primary federal renewable energy target – to have 33 terawatts of re...

Scott Hamilton, Strategic Advisory Panel Member, Australian-German Energy Transition Hub, University of Melbourne - avatar Scott Hamilton, Strategic Advisory Panel Member, Australian-German Energy Transition Hub, University of Melbourne

A Hippocratic Oath for data science? We’ll settle for a little more data literacy

Bias in, bias out: many algorithms have inherent design problems.Vintage Tone/ShutterstockI swear by Hypatia, by Lovelace, by Turing, by Fisher (and/or Bayes), and by all the statisticians and data sc...

Lewis Mitchell, Senior Lecturer in Applied Mathematics, University of Adelaide - avatar Lewis Mitchell, Senior Lecturer in Applied Mathematics, University of Adelaide

Australia's latest military commitment should spark assessment of how well we use our defence forces

Just when we thought Australia was getting serious about shifting priorities away from the Middle East to its own neighbourhood, the prime minister has announced another Middle East step up. Australia...

John Blaxland, Professor, Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, Australian National University - avatar John Blaxland, Professor, Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, Australian National University

Australia bans video games for things you'd see in movies. But gamers can access them anyway

A screenshot from survival videogame DayZ.Bohemia InteractiveIn the last three months, the Australian Classification Board has “refused classification” for at least four video games &ndash...

Brendan Keogh, ARC DECRA Fellow, Queensland University of Technology - avatar Brendan Keogh, ARC DECRA Fellow, Queensland University of Technology

Victorian changes to gender on birth certificate will not increase sexual violence. Here's why

Under the proposed changes, TGD people in Victoria can change the gender on their birth certificate without having to undergo medical intervention.ShutterstockThe Victorian government is considering c...

Bianca Fileborn, Lecturer in Criminology, University of Melbourne - avatar Bianca Fileborn, Lecturer in Criminology, University of Melbourne

What kind of state values a freeway's heritage above the heritage of our oldest living culture?

The government intends to destroy Djab Wurrung sacred trees and sites to upgrade the Western Highway at the same time as it seeks heritage status for the Eastern Freeway.Allies Decolonising/gofundmeTh...

Libby Porter, Professor of Urban Planning, Centre for Urban Research, RMIT University - avatar Libby Porter, Professor of Urban Planning, Centre for Urban Research, RMIT University

Why full-fat milk is now OK if you're healthy, but reduced-fat dairy is still best if you're not

The Heart Foundation now backs full-fat milk if you're healthy. But it still recommends reduced-fat milk if you have high blood pressure or heart disease.from www.shutterstock.comThe Heart Foundation ...

Clare Collins, Professor in Nutrition and Dietetics, University of Newcastle - avatar Clare Collins, Professor in Nutrition and Dietetics, University of Newcastle

Tim Fischer – a man of courage and loyalty – dies from cancer

Tim Fischer aboard a one-off passenger train last month to raise money for the Albury Wodonga Cancer Centre trust fund.Sally Evans/ Albury Wodonga Regional Cancer Centre Trust FundFormer deputy prime ...

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra - avatar Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

The Strait of Hormuz is the most important oil choke point in the world. Use our interactive map to explore it

Wes Mountain/The Conversation, CC BY-NDAfter months of increasing tension between Iran and the US, on Tuesday the Morrison government committed a warship, surveillance aircraft and about 200 troops to...

Wes Mountain, Multimedia Editor - avatar Wes Mountain, Multimedia Editor

Greenland isn't Denmark's to sell: some essential reading for Trump on colonialism

The coast of Greenland is not for sale.ShutterstockDonald Trump is not the first US President to make an offer of buying Greenland from Denmark – but he might be the last.Home of some 56,000 peo...

Felicity Jensz, Research associate professor, University of Münster - avatar Felicity Jensz, Research associate professor, University of Münster

Catholic Church sex abuse: The difference a Pennsylvania grand jury made in lives of survivors

The Pennsylvania grand jury report may have played a role in helping survivors come to grips with their past.AP Photo/Matt RourkeIt has been one year since the Pennsylvania grand jury report named 300...

Brian Clites, Instructor and Associate Director, Case Western Reserve University - avatar Brian Clites, Instructor and Associate Director, Case Western Reserve University

Setting the historical record straight for the critics of The New York Times project on slavery in America

Screen Shot of the New York Times homepage for its series, "1619."New York TimesFour hundred years after the event, the New York Times has published a special project focusing on the first Africans ar...

Kelley Fanto Deetz, Lecturer in American Studies, University of Virginia - avatar Kelley Fanto Deetz, Lecturer in American Studies, University of Virginia

The Amazon is burning: 4 essential reads on Brazil's vanishing rainforest

Nearly 40,000 fires are incinerating Brazil’s Amazon rainforest, the latest outbreak in an overactive fire season that has charred 1,330 square miles of the rainforest this year. Don’t bla...

Catesby Holmes, Global Affairs Editor, The Conversation US - avatar Catesby Holmes, Global Affairs Editor, The Conversation US

Removing mini-shampoos from hotel rooms won't save the environment

The movement to ban miniature toiletries isn't likely to make a dent in the global plastic crisis.vaidehi shah/Flickr, CC BYInterContinental Hotels Group will replace mini-shampoos and conditioners wi...

Yossi Sheffi, Professor of Engineering; Director of the MIT Center for Transportation & Logistics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology - avatar Yossi Sheffi, Professor of Engineering; Director of the MIT Center for Transportation & Logistics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Living with two preteens, I get almost daily requests to approve new apps. My standard response is to ask my kids to describe the app, why they want it, and how it makes money.

The last question is important, and not just to avoid to avoid in-app charges. Understanding the forces that drive the online economy is crucial for consumers, and increasingly citizens. All the new tools we access come at a cost even when they seem to be free.

How technology companies make money is a good question for digital media users of any age. It lies at the heart of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s inquiry into the power and profits of Google and Facebook, the world’s two most ubiquitous digital platforms.

Australians’ time spent online. ACCC Digital Platforms Inquiry Final Report

The competition watchdog’s job was to look at how online search engines, social media and digital content aggregators wield power in media and advertising, how that undermines the viability of traditional journalism (print in particular), and what can be done about it.

Limited recommendations

Its final report makes a swag of recommendations to limit these platforms’ market dominance and use of personal data.

Read more: What Australia's competition boss has in store for Google and Facebook

One example is requiring devices to offer consumers a choice of search engine and default browsers. Google now requires Android phones to pre-install Google apps. This feeds a “default bias” that contributes to it being used for 95% of Australian searches.

Another is reforming Australia’s privacy laws to address the digital environment. Platforms’ “take it or leave it” policies now give consumers little choice on having their data harvested.

Read more: Consumer watchdog calls for new measures to combat Facebook and Google's digital dominance

But on the area of concern central to the inquiry’s establishment – the decline in journalism – the recommendations are relatively minor:

  • a code of conduct to treat news media businesses “fairly, reasonably and transparently”
  • “stable and adequate” government funding for the ABC and SBS
  • government grants (A$50 million a year) to support original local journalism
  • tax incentives to encourage philanthropic support for journalism.

The reality is that there is little governments can do to reverse the technological disruption of the journalism business.

Targeted revolution

The internet has made stark that news organisations aren’t primarily in the journalism business. The stories they produce play an incomparable social role, but the business model is to deliver an audience to advertisers.

Australian advertising expenditure by media format and digital platform. ACCC

Social media and search give advertisers better tools to target messages to more precise groups of potential consumers. It is a phenomenally better mousetrap.

Traditional advertising is expensive and inefficient. An advertiser pays to reach a broad audience, most with no interest in what is being advertised.

Search allows advertisers to pay to reach people precisely when they are looking for something. Google knows what you are interested in, and serves up advertising accordingly. In the last quarter alone its advertising in its properties (Search, Maps, Gmail, YouTube, Play Store and Shopping) made US$27.3 billion in revenue.

Social media platforms have a different model, but one no less damaging to the old newspaper business model. It’s a bit more like traditional mass media advertising, selling the attention of users to advertisers, but in a far more targeted way.

To the extent Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and so on capture your attention, and effectively monetise content made by others through sharing, they also undercut traditional news businesses.

Follow the money

No regulation can fix this. As the competition watchdog’s report notes, Australian law does not prohibit a company from having substantial market power. Nor does it prohibit a company “from ‘out-competing’ its rivals by using superior skills and efficiency”.

No one – not even the tech companies – is necessarily to blame for the technological innovation that has disrupted traditional news organisations.

To see that, as with my kids understanding how their apps make money, it’s just a case of following the money.

Authors: The Conversation

Read more http://theconversation.com/we-can-put-a-leash-on-google-and-facebook-but-theres-no-saving-the-traditional-news-model-113554