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媒体的未来取决于:你愿意为新闻付费吗?

媒体的未来取决于:你愿意为新闻付费吗?

Jennifer Hoewe, Brett Sherrick 2020年07月21日
美国新闻业处于危机之中。如果想拯救媒体,公众就要为优秀的报道买单。

最近,法国立法者宣布,订阅新闻媒体的公民可以享受缴税抵免。其他国家的政府也直接或间接地资助本国新闻媒体。尽管相关举措在资助新闻业方面迈出了重要一步,但根据《美国第一修正案》,一定程度上要保证新闻业不受政府干预相悖。

自由对于确保新闻媒体能批评和监督美国政府至关重要。这也是当获取准确信息变得非常重要之际,美国公众必须决定向新闻业付费的原因。

图片来源:Robert Alexander—Getty Images

那么,为什么美国人不愿意为需要的高质量新闻付费呢?

如今,美国人对新闻媒体的信任已经降至历史新低。美国人也越发意识到,新闻媒体对政党存在偏见。多数情况下,美国人倾向性地认为新闻媒体对自己支持的政党和信仰有偏见,这种现象被称为敌对媒体效应。相关结果很可能与两个重要因素有关:质疑新闻准确性的政治言论不断增多,以及公众对准确的概念存在偏见。

在此首先考虑一下“媒体”的构成,以及政治精英对待媒体的态度。“媒体”一词经常暗含诋毁之意,代表选择性包容,尤其在批评反对己方观点的新闻媒体时。近年来,政治家和权威人士,尤其是保守派人士,一直努力为新闻媒体制造共同的敌人。特朗普多次抨击新闻机构,福克斯新闻也频频批评“主流媒体”。当然,讽刺的是,福克斯新闻网本身就是最大众的有线新闻网,它明显是主流媒体的一部分。将记者定位为公众敌人的言论导致本就很低的信任加剧恶化,也导致很难传播准确的信息。

第二点要考虑的是,美国公众为何对新闻内容变得如此愤世嫉俗。好意的教育者和朋友都在鼓励学生和熟人对消费的媒体持怀疑和批评态度。虽然对媒体持批评观点很重要,但美国人也要对信任体系保持怀疑和批评。如果做不到,通常就会导致认知偏差,即因为不喜欢不同观点而倾向选择与自身观点一致的信息。然而很多美国人学会了批评媒体内容,却不会批评自己相信的事,如此怀疑的态度很容易导致拒绝令人不快但实际上正确的信息。

那么,现状会如何影响美国新闻业的未来呢?在这里,首先必须再次强调准确报道的重要性。美国的开创者就很清楚新闻自由独立的必要性,我们必须承认,为了发挥民主的作用,新闻仍然很重要,必须继续存在而且要繁荣。

美国人必须考虑重视什么信息以及背后的原因。如果人们只消费与自身观点一致的信息,就会推动虚假信息泛滥,让道德低下者占便宜。我们必须接受新观点,甚至是具有挑战性的观点,只要基于事实就可以。

不过,关键的一点是,美国人要愿意为新闻付费。优秀的新闻是昂贵的。为了推动新闻在资本主义驱动的民主体制下运作,人们就要为实现知情权的内容付费。

当新闻消费转向以在线为主时,报纸还未能建立起可行的商业模式,以应对纸刊广告和订阅量下降的冲击。即便最终报纸转移到网上,在线广告和订阅的利润往往也少得多。当然,一些现代新闻机构找到了创收的方法支持优质新闻,但其他出版物,尤其是非常重要的地方媒体能否继续存在,则主要取决于消费者的购买力。

如果离开美国公众坚定和持续投资的话,地方新闻业就可能会消失。美国中小型报纸正在合并或停业,部分原因是所有权变更,但还有一部分原因是美国人选择了聚合形式的新闻(如谷歌新闻、Facebook和推特)。虽然聚合平台主要依靠本地新闻来源收集内容,但不管通过广告还是其他手段(如销售用户数据),平台获得的收入并未跟信息创造者分享(或分享得并不公平)。

数据显示,美国人其实愿意为网络媒体付费。人们订阅Netflix或在添加Disney+服务时付费可能连眼都不眨。那么,为什么一到为高质量的新闻付费时,人们就不愿意了呢?原因在于,新闻消费者已经习惯于免费获取内容。人们都被免费新闻宠坏了,所以希望继续免费。由于锚定效应存在,让新闻价格上涨变得更明显,尽管报纸的订阅费用经常没有Netflix的订阅价格贵。

如果美国人想获得优质准确的信息,就要愿意为此付出代价。在线广告的价格往往只相当于平面广告的一小部分,因而广告收入不足以支持新闻业务。而政府直接资助会造成利益冲突。新闻机构的非营利性地位和免税政策可以鼓励富裕个人和公司捐款。但各种模式都无法保证美国新闻业作为独立于政府等部门的独立监督机构继续存在。相反,美国人必须为新闻内容付费,才能为实现民主的关键部分提供支持。

不过,即便了解了相关信息,人们也很难决定支持哪些新闻机构。而以下策略则有助于新闻消费者做决定:

•想一想主要在哪里获取新闻。选择的信息来源是否只是因为符合自己的要求?别这么做。选一些不迎合特定党派的新闻来源。

•确保区分新闻和评论。好的新闻机构应该明确界定哪些是新闻事实,哪些是观点。

•检查新闻机构如何使用消息来源。新闻报道中的消息来源是否可信,是不是相关领域的专家?请记住:专家通常并非政客。

•查看新闻从业标准。优秀的新闻机构应该在网站上发布道德规范或明确的操作指南。

•如果在社交媒体或新闻聚合平台上发现信息,请首先确保该信息来自合法的新闻机构(参照此处列出的步骤)。然后访问发布原始内容的新闻机构网站,确保机构为该条内容赚取广告收入。

•阅读完整的文章而不仅是浏览标题(或Facebook帖子与推文)。深度报道可以提供更多背景,这也是值得付费的原因之一。

•从多个来源获取新闻。本地、全国和国际媒体各选一家。也不用担心使用事实核查网站来核对报道内容是否属实。

总之,最重要的是,在利用列表选出钟意的新闻机构之后,要为其内容付费提供支持。(财富中文网)

詹妮弗•霍韦和布雷特•谢瑞克是普渡大学布莱恩•兰姆传播学院的助理教授。

者:Feb

最近,法国立法者宣布,订阅新闻媒体的公民可以享受缴税抵免。其他国家的政府也直接或间接地资助本国新闻媒体。尽管相关举措在资助新闻业方面迈出了重要一步,但根据《美国第一修正案》,一定程度上要保证新闻业不受政府干预相悖。

自由对于确保新闻媒体能批评和监督美国政府至关重要。这也是当获取准确信息变得非常重要之际,美国公众必须决定向新闻业付费的原因。

那么,为什么美国人不愿意为需要的高质量新闻付费呢?

如今,美国人对新闻媒体的信任已经降至历史新低。美国人也越发意识到,新闻媒体对政党存在偏见。多数情况下,美国人倾向性地认为新闻媒体对自己支持的政党和信仰有偏见,这种现象被称为敌对媒体效应。相关结果很可能与两个重要因素有关:质疑新闻准确性的政治言论不断增多,以及公众对准确的概念存在偏见。

在此首先考虑一下“媒体”的构成,以及政治精英对待媒体的态度。“媒体”一词经常暗含诋毁之意,代表选择性包容,尤其在批评反对己方观点的新闻媒体时。近年来,政治家和权威人士,尤其是保守派人士,一直努力为新闻媒体制造共同的敌人。特朗普多次抨击新闻机构,福克斯新闻也频频批评“主流媒体”。当然,讽刺的是,福克斯新闻网本身就是最大众的有线新闻网,它明显是主流媒体的一部分。将记者定位为公众敌人的言论导致本就很低的信任加剧恶化,也导致很难传播准确的信息。

第二点要考虑的是,美国公众为何对新闻内容变得如此愤世嫉俗。好意的教育者和朋友都在鼓励学生和熟人对消费的媒体持怀疑和批评态度。虽然对媒体持批评观点很重要,但美国人也要对信任体系保持怀疑和批评。如果做不到,通常就会导致认知偏差,即因为不喜欢不同观点而倾向选择与自身观点一致的信息。然而很多美国人学会了批评媒体内容,却不会批评自己相信的事,如此怀疑的态度很容易导致拒绝令人不快但实际上正确的信息。

那么,现状会如何影响美国新闻业的未来呢?在这里,首先必须再次强调准确报道的重要性。美国的开创者就很清楚新闻自由独立的必要性,我们必须承认,为了发挥民主的作用,新闻仍然很重要,必须继续存在而且要繁荣。

美国人必须考虑重视什么信息以及背后的原因。如果人们只消费与自身观点一致的信息,就会推动虚假信息泛滥,让道德低下者占便宜。我们必须接受新观点,甚至是具有挑战性的观点,只要基于事实就可以。

不过,关键的一点是,美国人要愿意为新闻付费。优秀的新闻是昂贵的。为了推动新闻在资本主义驱动的民主体制下运作,人们就要为实现知情权的内容付费。

当新闻消费转向以在线为主时,报纸还未能建立起可行的商业模式,以应对纸刊广告和订阅量下降的冲击。即便最终报纸转移到网上,在线广告和订阅的利润往往也少得多。当然,一些现代新闻机构找到了创收的方法支持优质新闻,但其他出版物,尤其是非常重要的地方媒体能否继续存在,则主要取决于消费者的购买力。

如果离开美国公众坚定和持续投资的话,地方新闻业就可能会消失。美国中小型报纸正在合并或停业,部分原因是所有权变更,但还有一部分原因是美国人选择了聚合形式的新闻(如谷歌新闻、Facebook和推特)。虽然聚合平台主要依靠本地新闻来源收集内容,但不管通过广告还是其他手段(如销售用户数据),平台获得的收入并未跟信息创造者分享(或分享得并不公平)。

数据显示,美国人其实愿意为网络媒体付费。人们订阅Netflix或在添加Disney+服务时付费可能连眼都不眨。那么,为什么一到为高质量的新闻付费时,人们就不愿意了呢?原因在于,新闻消费者已经习惯于免费获取内容。人们都被免费新闻宠坏了,所以希望继续免费。由于锚定效应存在,让新闻价格上涨变得更明显,尽管报纸的订阅费用经常没有Netflix的订阅价格贵。

如果美国人想获得优质准确的信息,就要愿意为此付出代价。在线广告的价格往往只相当于平面广告的一小部分,因而广告收入不足以支持新闻业务。而政府直接资助会造成利益冲突。新闻机构的非营利性地位和免税政策可以鼓励富裕个人和公司捐款。但各种模式都无法保证美国新闻业作为独立于政府等部门的独立监督机构继续存在。相反,美国人必须为新闻内容付费,才能为实现民主的关键部分提供支持。

不过,即便了解了相关信息,人们也很难决定支持哪些新闻机构。而以下策略则有助于新闻消费者做决定:

• 想一想主要在哪里获取新闻。选择的信息来源是否只是因为符合自己的要求?别这么做。选一些不迎合特定党派的新闻来源。

• 确保区分新闻和评论。好的新闻机构应该明确界定哪些是新闻事实,哪些是观点。

• 检查新闻机构如何使用消息来源。新闻报道中的消息来源是否可信,是不是相关领域的专家?请记住:专家通常并非政客。

• 查看新闻从业标准。优秀的新闻机构应该在网站上发布道德规范或明确的操作指南。

• 如果在社交媒体或新闻聚合平台上发现信息,请首先确保该信息来自合法的新闻机构(参照此处列出的步骤)。然后访问发布原始内容的新闻机构网站,确保机构为该条内容赚取广告收入。

• 阅读完整的文章而不仅是浏览标题(或Facebook帖子与推文)。深度报道可以提供更多背景,这也是值得付费的原因之一。

• 从多个来源获取新闻。本地、全国和国际媒体各选一家。也不用担心使用事实核查网站来核对报道内容是否属实。

总之,最重要的是,在利用列表选出钟意的新闻机构之后,要为其内容付费提供支持。(财富中文网)

詹妮弗•霍韦和布雷特•谢瑞克是普渡大学布莱恩•兰姆传播学院的助理教授。

译者:Feb

French legislators recently implemented a tax credit for citizens who subscribe to news outlets. Similarly, other governments around the globe directly or indirectly fund their news media. Though they take an important step toward funding journalism, these models are at odds with the American First Amendment, which guarantees—in part—a press free from government intervention.

This freedom is crucial to ensure the news media are able to critique the American government and hold it in check. That’s why, in a time when access to accurate information could not be more important, members of the American public must decide to invest in journalism.

Why, then, are Americans reluctant to pay for the high-quality news they need?

Americans’ trust in the news media has reached historically low levels. Americans also increasingly perceive the news media to be biased toward a particular political party. In most cases, Americans tend to think the news media is biased against their own political party and beliefs, a phenomenon called the hostile media effect. These outcomes are likely tied to two important things: increased political rhetoric that continually questions the accuracy of news, and the public’s biased perceptions of what is accurate.

First, let’s consider what constitutes “the media” and how it is discussed by political elites. The term “the media” is often used as a denigration that is selectively inclusive—applied to news outlets that oppose one’s views. Politicians and pundits, particularly conservative ones, have worked to create a common enemy—the news media—in recent years. Trump has repeatedly attacked news organizations, and Fox News frequently critiques “the mainstream media.” The irony, of course, is that Fox News is the most widely consumed cable news network, which places it pretty squarely as part of the mainstream media. This increased rhetoric positioning American journalists as the enemy of the American public exacerbates already low levels of trust and makes the dissemination of accurate information more difficult.

The second point to consider is how the American public came to be so cynical about news content. Well-meaning educators and friends have encouraged their students and acquaintances to be skeptical and critical of the media they consume. While a critical view toward media is important, Americans also need to be skeptical and critical of their own belief systems. Failure to do so often leads to confirmation bias, where individuals select information that agrees with their own beliefs because they do not like encountering divergent perspectives. Since many Americans have learned to be critical of media content but not of their own beliefs, such skepticism can lead to the easy rejection of uncomfortable but accurate information.

So where does this leave the future of American journalism? It must begin with a reemphasis on the importance of accurate reporting. The founders of America understood the necessity of a free and independent press, and we have to acknowledge that this essential entity must continue to exist and thrive in order for our democracy to function.

Then Americans must consider what information they value and why. If we only consume information that agrees with our own viewpoints, we allow misinformation to run rampant and immoral actors to take advantage. We must be open to new perspectives—even challenging ones—and those perspectives must be rooted in fact.

The crucial part of this, though, is that Americans must be willing to pay for their news. Good journalism is expensive. In order for the press to operate in a capitalist-driven democracy, people must pay for the content that fulfills their goals of being well informed.

When news consumption moved to primarily online distribution, newspapers failed to establish a functioning business model that could accommodate for the upcoming decreases in hard copy advertising and subscriptions. Even when newspapers eventually moved online, they found that online advertising and subscriptions tended to be far less lucrative. Certainly, some modern news organizations have found ways to produce the revenue required for good journalism, but the likelihood of other publications continuing to exist, particularly the immensely important local outlets, rests with the purchasing power of the consumer.

Without a committed and sustained investment from the American public, local journalism may cease to exist. Small and midsize newspapers across the country are consolidating or going out of business in part because of ownership decisions but also because Americans have opted to receive their news in aggregate forms (such as Google News, Facebook, and Twitter). While those aggregators rely on local news sources to collect their content, the revenue earned from advertising or other means, such as the selling of user data, is often not shared (or not shared fairly) with the originators of the information.

Data consistently show that Americans are willing to pay for online media. We may not bat an eye at our Netflix subscription prices or adding Disney+ to our online services. So why do we shudder at the thought of paying for quality journalism? News consumers have become accustomed to free access to news content. Since we’ve been spoiled by news content that is available for free, we expect it to continue to be free. An anchoring effect has made any increase in the price of news seem large, even though a newspaper subscription is often not more than a Netflix subscription.

If Americans want to receive high-quality, accurate information, they must be willing to pay for it. Since online ads are often purchased at a fraction of the price of print ads, ad revenue does not provide enough to support news operations. Direct government funding introduces a conflict of interest. Nonprofit status and tax exemptions encourage contributions primarily from the wealthiest individuals and corporations. Each of these models on their own cannot ensure that American journalism will persist as an independent watchdog of the government and others in power. Instead, Americans must pay for their news content to provide support for this crucial component of our democracy.

Even with this information, it can be difficult to decide which news organizations to support. The following strategies should help news consumers make these decisions:

• Think about where you get your news. Are you selecting information just because it agrees with you? Don’t do that. Pick news sources that do more than simply cater to a partisan audience.

• Make sure you’re differentiating between news and commentary. Good news organizations should clearly demarcate what is news and what is opinion content.

• Check the news organizations’ use of sources. Are the sources they use in their news stories credible and considered experts in their field? Keep in mind: Experts are often people other than politicians.

• Look for journalistic standards. A good news organization should have a code of ethics or clear reporting guidelines posted on its website.

• If you spot a piece of information on social media or a news aggregator, first make sure the information originated with a legitimate news organization (using the other steps listed here). Then visit the site of the news organization that created the original content to ensure it will earn ad revenue for that content.

• Read full articles, not just headlines (or Facebook posts or tweets). In-depth reporting provides more context, which is part of why it’s worth paying for.

• Get your news from multiple sources. Try to pick at least one local, national, and international outlet. And don’t be afraid to check their work using fact-checking sites.

And importantly, once you’ve used this list to help select your preferred news organizations, be willing to support their work by paying for their content.

Jennifer Hoewe and Brett Sherrick are assistant professors in the Brian Lamb School of Communication at Purdue University.

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