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Media Alert 15 March

A round-up of the hottest takes from the best UK Indy Media


In this week’s edition of Media Alert:

  • World Wide Web Creator Shares Fears: Is “Platform Power” Crushing the Web?
  • Our Picks of the Week

Media Alert is a weekly bulletin discussing issues impacting on the UK independent media and highlighting some of the best recent work from the sector.

It’s brought to you by The Media Fund, a co-operative of over 30 partners seeking to raise funds and advocate for quality independent journalism.


The Weeks Big Stories

Essential new from the frontlines of media politics

Is “Platform Power” Crushing the Web?

Alarm bells were sounded this week by Tim Berners Lee, creator of the World Wide Web, over the increasing domination of the internet by a very small number of sites.

In an open letter, Berners Lee describes a series of ways via which the likes of Facebook and Google are crowding our other platforms and establishing essentially unfair advantages for themselves. He also argues that such domination is aiding the viral spread of fake-news.

In many ways, he is outlining classic cartel behavior in under-regulated markets and there’s a growing debate about how such problems can be mitigated. It certainly doesn’t help that the platforms’ global nature would require huge international cooperation from states in order to tether the worst effects and many of those states have motives that could be at least as dubious. It also doesn’t help that many establishment politicians can be behind the curve on internet culture while others are keen to exploit it for their own ends. The balance of any kind of regulation (or voluntary measures on the part of the big platforms) is again caught in a common potential trap: on the one hand, the scope for authoritarianism is obvious. On the other, too lax an approach could well be pretty useless.

Nonetheless, there’s a growing opinion that some form of action is bound to happen, especially in the context of the fake news problem. This is underlined by Buzzfeed founder Jonah Peretti who recently said that regulation is inevitable if Facebook continues to fail to financially support trusted news sources having hoovered up such a large proportion of marketing budgets that used to go to news platforms.

Quality independent media is even more at risk of being crowded out by new algorithms and fake news. As far as Facebook is concerned, many platforms are de-prioritizing it as a means of getting views but a group of independent news providers have banded together to try and mitigate the problems caused by those new algorithms that have resulted in people being far less likely to see news items in their feeds. The group features some of the biggest names in the UK sector, you can find out more here.


Picks of the Week

Our hand-picked selections from some of the best independent journalism around


Occupy! No Capitulation – Mike Small, Bella Caledonia

Make note of the principle being a bully:

Across the UK, university staff are striking, often with the support of students. Bella Caledonia’s coverage of student occupation in Edinburgh details a common feature of higher education principles acting as if they controlled fiefdoms rather than seats of education.

Find Bella Caledonia on Twitter @bellaclaedonia


Little Evidence Corporation Tax Scares Off Multinationals, Says Report –  Grace Blakeley, Novara Media

Calls for increased corporate taxes have always been countered by the idea that it would frighten large companies away from doing businesses here at all. But what if the old scare turned out to be a myth? Novara Media put the claim under the microscope.

Find Novara Media on Twitter @novaramedia


Turkey to Face Allegations of War Crimes Against Kurds – Laurie Bunting, The Canary

The Kurds are often called the world’s largest nation without a state. They suffered massively under Saddam Hussein and have been fighting ISIS for years. But they are also victims of NATO’s Turkey. The Canary looks at allegations of massive war crimes on the part of the Erdogan regime.

Find the Canary on Twitter @TheCanaryUK

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