Why ‘RUSSH’ is shutting down news production today

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Today, March 22, 2022, RUSSH puts an end to the production and publication of news. We join the #WaitingOnZuck freeze news and fight for the future of Australian news media.

Almost a year ago, the Australian Federal Government and Department of the Treasury (courtesy of Treasurer Josh Frydenberg MP) presented the News Media Trading Code.

It was well intentioned.

This code aimed to reduce the power imbalance between Australian news media companies and digital platforms, in particular Meta (formerly known as Facebook Inc.) and Google.

This world-class code was an important step in the right direction. But now the problem is access. Digital platforms have made a number of commercial-in-confidence The agreements (rather, ‘secret offers’) which unfortunately had the opposite effect of the Code.

Today, the situation has only gotten worse.

For small and medium media companies that do not have commercial agreements, the competition disadvantage has only grown worse, at a time when independent journalism has never been more important.

Why we need independent journalism

With each passing moment, we see the chasm that divides society widen more and more.

We each live in our own echo chamber. A matrix of social algorithms that serves little more than confirmation bias and outrage bait. The trail of “do your own research” is like a path of bread crumbs, which leads to a clothes dryer of misinformation and biased half-truths.

The undervaluation of cultural industries has led to the decimation of journalism as we know it. As more publications fold, the pincers of monopoly monoliths tighten their grip, resurrecting once-loved titles like husks of themselves. The result is a homogenization of the report: the same points of view repeated over and over again, set against a late capitalist landscape.

We have to break the cycle.

We need more stories. Different stories. Narrating new voices with a new perspective. Insights from those who have historically been deprived of a platform to stand on. Bold thoughts that show another side, even if you don’t agree with them.

Independent voices are the backbone of communities. They spark change, celebrate diversity, and bring us the news we need – not just the news we agree with.

Without independent voices, we are all losers.

Unfortunately, independents – like us – won’t be able to bring those voices to you if we continue to be left out of deals where our big competitors haven’t.

Our audiences took this issue seriously and supported us all the way – and we can’t thank you enough. But Australian audiences can only fight this David vs. Goliath battle so far.

We know Treasurer Josh Frydenberg MP has told Mark Zuckerberg that we will not back down because the sustainability of independent reporting is important to Australians, all of us. The spirit of the Media Code is still alive.

In the year since the launch of the Code, Meta has had more than enough time to demonstrate that it believes in paying for the quality independent journalism its business model continues. to benefit enormously.

But nothing has changed.

How Meta benefits from independent journalism

Meta’s Facebook benefits greatly from the news shared on its platform.

When Facebook started inviting news and media to its platform, it knew what it was doing. News and content is a draw card. As publications joined the Facebook bandwagon and started sharing their content on the platform, wait times increased, shares skyrocketed, and Facebook’s user base grew steadily. .

As a result, in 2016, 44% of Americans said they got their news from Facebook. For the best or for the worst.

True, there was also a honeymoon period for publications. Facebook was once a great place to reach readers. And many brands, including ours, have invested heavily in growing our Facebook audience. But then came algorithm change, after algorithm change, each designed to continually de-prioritize brands without big budgets and to reduce the reach of organic content. Today, publications like ours are lucky enough to reach even one percent of the audience we’ve taken years to build.

All the while, Facebook through Meta Inc. happily retains users who have been inspired to join the platform to interact with our brand, and others like ours – Large Format Media, Concrete playground, crossroads of the city, star gazer and so many others.

That’s why the News Media Bargaining Code was created: Facebook owes a debt to publishers, not just big players.

How you can help

Right now, small and medium publishers, along with their over 4 million readers, are waiting for #WaitingOnZuck to come to the table and do some real business. We want deals with small and medium publishers that are transparent, fair and help pay for the journalism on which its businesses are built.

Today, we’re letting the world know that small and medium publishers are still waiting on #WaitingonZuck to pay for the journalism it enjoys for free. RUSSH participates by ceasing its production of news and background content for the next 24 hours. We will always publish our content in partnership, when it comes to collaborative brands that bring life RUSSH flowing and the lights on in our office. But, there will be a freeze on all the other stories you normally hear from us on a daily basis.

If you want to show your support, Ijoin the #WaitingOnZuck news freeze on March 22. Replace your profile and social updates with #WaitingOnZUCK. Use the hashtag, or contact Zuckerberg directly on his social profiles: @MarkZuckerberg (Facebook), @zuck (Instagram), @finkd (Zuck, Twitter),

You can also email MP Josh Frydenberg to demand that digital platforms be designated. Below is a customizable email draft. This is an initiative powered by concerned news media companies around the world.

Hello Josh,

You may have noticed that there is no news today. It’s because we’re all waiting for Mark Zuckerberg.

Publishers across Australia have frozen their news feeds for the day because we are #WaitingonZuck to pay for the journalism its businesses benefit from for free.

Thanks for trying to disrupt the huge power imbalance between digital platforms and news media companies. The Code was a great start, but Zuck has failed to come to the table, only making secret deals that exacerbate the huge competitive disadvantage, badly affecting the “little guys” in this vital industry – our little ones and average publishers.

They are the editors who not only deliver news and information to me, but they are part of the backbone of my community by sharing the stories that help us feel seen, heard and represented in Australia.

were happy that 12 months later, we have the opportunity to improve the impact of the Code together. That’s why I’m asking you to defend the future of small and medium-sized publishers by designating digital platforms under the Code.

Sincere friendships,

Contact Josh Frydenberg here: @JoshFrydenberg (Twitter), @JoshFrydenbergMP (Facebook), @josh.frydenberg.mp (Instagram), [email protected]


Special thanks to Broadsheet Media and DecadeofAction.com.au for uniting us in this fight.

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