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严肃媒体面临的严肃问题
Want to change the media? Don’t get mad — get even

来源:FT中文网    2017-08-03 08:02

        A decade ago, Cass Sunstein, an American legal scholar, co-authored a book, Nudge, with the economist Richard Thaler. In it, they argued that subtle social cues — nudges — can shape the behaviour of populations. The idea proved so persuasive that it influenced White House policy, and Sunstein and Thaler rose to prominence.         十年前,美国法学学者卡斯•桑斯坦(Cass Sunstein)与经济学家理查德•塞勒(Richard Thaler)合著《助推》(Nudge)一书。他们在书中指出,对一些社会现象进行细微调整——助推——可以塑造大众的行为。这个想法被证明是很有说服力的,它对白宫的政策产生了影响,桑斯坦和塞勒也因此成为知名学者。
        Now Sunstein has published another book, #Republic, which describes how social media shapes politics and journalism. So far, it has not received as much attention as Nudge. This is a pity: the ideas in #Republic are arguably more important — and more pressing.        最近,桑斯坦又出版了一本新书,名为《#共和》(#Republic)。该书描述了社交媒体对政治和新闻的影响。不过,到目前为止,该书还没有获得像《助推》那样的关注度。这真令人遗憾:《#共和》中的观点可以说更为重要——也更加发人深省。
        These days, many voters seem furious with both journalists and social media. In this column last week, for example, I wrote about the tribalisation of the media. This has sparked more online reader comments than almost anything else I have written — and most of them are angry.        最近,许多选民似乎对记者和社交媒体感到愤怒。例如,我在不久前的本专栏中撰写了一篇关于媒体“部落化”的文章。该文的在线读者评论数量超过我以往撰写的所有文章——而且大部分评论是愤怒的批评。
        Amid all the emotion, what is notably lacking are proposals for a way forward. Readers and viewers say they want the media to be “less biased” and to “focus on the facts” but the problem of how to finance and organise serious non-partisan journalism for the mass market remains largely unsolved. The trouble is that partisan social media is free — and readers seem to be hungry for this. So how can we support real news when most voters keep flocking to entertaining stories that are (at best) partisan and (at worst) deliberately fake?        在一片激昂情绪之中,明显少了点什么:没人提出解决问题的建议。读者和观众指出,他们希望媒体“少一点偏见”,“多关注事实”。但是,为大众市场服务的严肃的、无党派倾向的媒体如何获得资金、如何运作的问题依然悬而未决。问题是有党派倾向的社交媒体是免费的——而读者似乎也在“狼吞虎咽”地吸收此类内容。所以,当大多数选民乐此不疲地阅读这些(在最好情况下)带有党派倾向的、(在最坏情况下)是蓄意伪造的娱乐性消息时,我们如何能支撑真实新闻呢?
        This is where #Republic comes in. Sunstein believes that one of the biggest problems in media today is the phenomenon of “informational” and “reputational cascades”: if a story or idea gets launched on Facebook or Twitter in a format that is easy to Like or Share, it can snowball rapidly and sway public opinion. This makes social media prone to both polarisation and manipulation — and undermines established journalism.        这正是《#共和》讨论的问题。桑斯坦认为,当今的媒体面临的最大问题之一就是“信息瀑布”和“名气瀑布”现象:如果一个故事或想法在脸书(Facebook)或推特(Twitter)上以便于点赞或分享的形式上传,它可能会像滚雪球一样快速传播,并左右公众舆论。这使得社交媒体很容易走极端和受到操纵——并冲击传统新闻业。
        Sunstein suggests some strategies to fight back. The loftiest — and perhaps least realistic — idea is that governments or philanthropic groups should create so-called “deliberative domains”: spaces online or in the physical world where opposing political viewpoints can be debated. Conferences sometimes try to do this for elite participants but Sunstein wants mass-market deliberative domains. He also advocates campaigns to promote media literacy among the public.         桑斯坦提出了一些应对策略。最高屋建瓴、或许也是最不现实的想法是,政府或慈善团体应该建立所谓的“辩论场”——即网上虚拟空间或现实世界空间,供持不同政治观点的双方在上面进行辩论。有时候会议的目的就是为社会精英提供讨论的场所,不过,桑斯坦希望创建的是大众市场辩论场。他还倡导开展一些活动,提升公众的媒体素养。
        Another proposal is for governments to require media companies to promote non-partisan coverage, similar to the standards that the Federal Communications Commission used to impose on television. The government could also force partisan websites to include links to articles with conflicting points of view: Breitbart, for example, might carry a link to a piece by Huffington Post, and vice versa. Or social media companies could perhaps create algorithms that enable readers to collide with unexpected ideas to which they would not otherwise be exposed (say, with a “serendipity” button that shows news from a variety of sources).        另一项建议是,政府应要求媒体在报道时尽量不能有党派倾向,这与美国联邦通信委员会(Federal Communications Commission)对电视媒体的要求类似。政府也可以强制要求有党派倾向的网站提供表达不同观点的文章的链接:例如,新闻网站Breitbart可以附上一篇赫芬顿邮报(Huffington Post)的文章链接,反之亦然。或者社交媒体公司也许可以创建一些算法,使读者能够接触到其原本没有机会看到的想法(比如说,增加一个“新发现”(serendipity)按钮,点击这个按钮,就会显示来自其他不同消息来源的新闻)。
        A more draconian move would be to force social media sites to adhere to certain legal standards, similar to those imposed on print journalism. Alternatively, the media itself could be subsidised, in a bid to offset — or balance — the commercial pressures that are increasingly encouraging private sector media outlets to be more partisan.        更为严厉的做法就是迫使社交媒体网站遵守某些法律标准,类似于印刷媒体适用的法规。或者,媒体本身可以得到补贴,以抵消或平衡商业压力,正是这些压力越来越鼓励私营媒体选择支持某一党派。
        ***        好消息是,其中一些想法已经付诸实施。 例如,脸书正在开发工具,使其用户能够与持不同意见的其他人接触。一些慈善家正在资助新型媒体,如非盈利调查机构ProPublica。 一些培养公众媒体素养的活动已经开始。 此外,在欧洲大陆(但不是在美国),政府正在试图强迫社会媒体删除假新闻。
        The good news is that some of these ideas are already being put into practice. Facebook, for example, is developing tools that will enable its users to engage with others who have different opinions. Philanthropists are funding new types of media, such as the non-profit investigative unit ProPublica. Some media literacy campaigns have emerged. And in continental Europe (but not in the US), governments are trying to force social media groups to remove fake news.         不过,这些措施仍然是小打小闹。在社交媒体提供免费新闻、商业需求鼓励“部落化”的时代,没人知道我们该如何解决无党派倾向的媒体的资金来源问题。就个人而言,我认为害处最小的选择是融资模式的多样化:一些政府资助的媒体与商业新闻机构共存,而一些慈善机构或社区所有的媒体作为补充。这些模式各有不足,但是正如我的《金融时报》同事、目前任职于牛津大学(University of Oxford)路透新闻研究院(Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism)的约翰•劳埃德(John Lloyd)所说,每种模式都有不同的缺陷——这意味着各种模式应该(有望)形成互补。
        However, these measures are still modest. And nobody yet knows how we should fund non-partisan media at a time when social media is free and commercial imperatives encourage tribalism. Personally, I think that the least bad option is a diversity of financing models: some limited government-funded media existing alongside commercial journalism, supplemented by some philanthropic or community-owned media. Each of these models has its own drawbacks but, as my FT colleague John Lloyd of the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford says, each has different disadvantages — which means they should (hopefully) balance each other out.         至少在美国,政府拨款似乎不太可能发生:事实上,特朗普政府计划削减美国国家公共电台(NPR)等机构的政府拨款,这可能将一些地方电视台逼上绝境。所以,问题的关键是:下一次对媒体表达你的不满时,请扪心自问一下,你期望“公正”的大众市场新闻机构如何获得资金、如何运营——以及你是否愿意为其买单。这个问题并不是免除了记者的责任:我们作为作者也需要遵守职业操守。但打造一个更加健康的媒体行业,需要媒体人和非媒体人的共同努力。愤怒不足以解决问题,我们需要的是解决方案。
        In the US at least, government financing seems unlikely to occur: after all, the Trump administration plans to slash public funding for institutions such as National Public Radio, which could eviscerate local stations. So the key point is this: the next time you complain about the media, ask yourself how you expect “fair” mass-market journalism to be funded and run — and if you are willing to pay for it. That question doesn’t let journalists off the hook: we writers need to dignify our craft. But building a better media is a task that involves journalists and non-journalists alike. Being angry is not enough; we need solutions.         插图由肖纳格•雷(Shonagh Rae)提供
        Illustration by Shonagh Rae        译者/何黎
                
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