Posts Tagged ‘Mainstream media’

Don’t believe the Zika hype

Author: Robin Browne

After the Rio Olympics, what’s the first thing you think of when you think of Brazil? I bet it’s the Zika virus.

If you believe the media reports, you’d think there are swarms of Zika laden mosquitos roaming the streets of Rio looking for pregnant women to feast on. And if you’re not a pregnant woman you’d still be nervous.

Well, what if I told you that no one has screens on their windows in Rio? Oh, and there are no mosquitos now anyway because it’s  winter. And, even if it was summer, there’s almost no chance of getting Zika in the city…

Well, that’s what our Brazilian contacts in Rio are telling us (two independent contacts).

Could this be part of the reason why study after study shows people trust “people like them” more than the media? And why the mainstream media continues to struggle? (Maybe if they stop blaming the Internet and return to the good old days of reporting actual facts, people might give them another try).

Now I’m starting to question the other big stories coming out of Brazil via mainstream media, like the shitty water story. This literally means “water full of shit” because Rio pumps its raw sewage into the water like many places do. However, on this one, one of our contacts confirmed that the bay next to where we’re staying in a part of Rio called Flamengo, is one of the places mentioned in the shitty water stories and he says, “You don’t want that water to even touch your skin.”

So, it seems the media got that one right.

Wednesday morning I attended a panel discussion titled News 2.0 – the future of media in a digital world with panelists Kady O’Malley, CBCNews.ca political blogger;
Andrew Potter, Ottawa Citizen Online Politics Editor and MacLean’s Public Affairs columnist and Christopher Waddell, Director of Carleton University’s School of Journalism and Communications. The discussion was all about how media, especially newspapers, are – or aren’t – adapting to the rise of the internet.

There was a good amount of talk about how some newspapers are doing to die but the irony is the format of the panel itself was a key example of one reason why.

The presentation, put on by the Institute of Public Administration of Canada (IPAC), cost $35 for non-members and featured five minute panelist remarks followed by a question and answer session. That seems OK but when I asked if I could record and podcast the session the IPAC host told me she’d have to ask the IPAC chapter board members that were there. She did and then told me they had refused.

This is an example of the kind of behaviour that will kill all newspapers that keep doing it: hoarding and selling information via old models instead of sharing information and finding new ways to make money.

Telling was that in the question and answer period I asked the panelists if they heard of the UK’s Guardian newspaper releasing all their content for free via an API. The idea is to spread the content everywhere for free and make money by eventually requiring developers to carry ads from a future Guardian ad network. It’s kind of Googleizing the news. Brilliant.

None of the panelists said they had heard of this. It seems owners of Canada’s major newspapers haven’t either.

ps. The Guardian also launched a $3.99 iPhone app in December 2009.