Splice News media trends: The week according to Alan Soon – YouTube, Facebook, Spotify

As a leading light of the commentariat in Asia, newsroom consultant and former alumnus of Yahoo, CNBC and Bloomberg, Alan Soon knows a thing or two about the media. Here is his roundup of developments inside the bubble this week


China’s Toutiao found itself in a tight spot with censors who accused the news aggregator of spreading porn and “vulgar information.” As a result, it’s suspended or blocked the accounts of 1,100 bloggers who were publishing “low quality” content on the app.

Germany’s new hate speech law is now in effect. It requires tech companies like Facebook, Twitter and Google to remove content that advocates violence or slander. Sounds good on paper, but it puts the onus on companies to delete posts or block users, instead of running the process through the public courts. A dangerous precedent. In the first use of the law, a parliamentarian from the racist AfD party was blocked by Twitter and Facebook for criticizing local police for sending a New Year’s post in Arabic.

The Iranian government has been blocking access to Telegram and Instagram to “maintain peace” as protests broke out across the country. Telegram in particular has strong reach in Iran, where people have been using group channels as a way to share information. Pavel Durov, Telegram’s CEO, found himself in a difficult position — not unlike other platforms — in balancing government action and freedom of speech.

Singapore’s media regulator banned the screening of an award-winning documentary at the Singapore Palestinian Film Festival for its “skewed narrative.” It said Radiance of Resistance “incites activists to continue their resistance against the alleged oppressors.”

Japan’s laws on rape and sexual consent are ambiguous and outdated. A news intern accused one of Japan’s most prominent journalists of rape, but investigators on the verge of arresting him backed off.


Facebook caused an uproar in India for getting new users to use their Aadhaar national registration names when signing up for the service. Aadhaar’s critics say the platform isn’t secure, especially with high-profile leaks of government and financial data. Facebook says it’s just “a test.”

Digiday has a way of getting people to confess. In the latest Confessions interview, they speak to a publisher who claims to have been told by Facebook to stop counting on the platform. “They are going to completely deprioritize publishers. They very candidly said to me, ‘If I were you, I would probably not rely on Facebook as much as you are.’”

You already know that YouTube star and bonafide moron Logan Paul thought it best to shoot footage of a suicide victim in a forest near Mount Fuji. But what is YouTube’s role — and responsibility? Before he decided to take it down, 6.5 million people had already viewed the video of him sniggering next to the hanging body. The platform, which takes 45% of ad revenue generated from its creators’ videos, issued typically vague corporate twaddle in response.


Verizon was apparently interested in buying parts of 21st Century Fox. Murdoch decided it wasn’t interesting enough and sold much of his company instead to Disney.

The New York Times has a new publisher from the Sulzberger dynasty. “Misinformation is rising and trust in the media is declining as technology platforms elevate clickbait, rumor and propaganda over real journalism, and politicians jockey for advantage by inflaming suspicion of the press.”


Spotify quietly filed for an IPO, according to Axios. It’s apparently trying a direct listing instead of a traditional float. Could be interesting for other tech companies planning to go public.

How big can indie get without becoming mainstream? The Betoota Advocate, the Onion-esque news satire website, appeals to over a million Aussie millennials, and it’s getting bigger: their own beer, a clothing line, and a book. “No one trusts the [mainstream] media anymore. Especially after the American election” says a fan. Splice ale, anyone?

The future of media is hyper-personalization, and radio is no different. Lizhi, a radio company out of Guangzhou that has been around for a while, just raised $50 million in a Series D run for its personalized radio mobile platform that enables users to set up — and listen to — their own radio stations. One to watch out for. Narrowcasting rules


There’s some good, sage advice here — photojournalism pitching tips. Not just for photogs, but equally good for anyone pitching stories. “We don’t send people to, let’s say Syria or Iraq, just on speculation that there might be cool pictures to take. We want a specific story or project.”


WSJ ran an otherwise good story under a shitty headline: “A Browser You’ve Never Heard of Is Dethroning Google in Asia.” First, as you may already have guessed, it’s UC Browser. Second, “hundreds of millions of people” in Asia (in the article’s own reporting) are already using it. For a newspaper that’s trying to present itself as an international voice, this is an unfortunate flop. Don’t underestimate your audience, WSJ.

Here’s an interesting New Year’s resolution: discovering new music without using algorithms. “The music I stumbled across in 2017 has no sense of place or context.”

Awww. Russia’s military is using puppy videos to project a softer side to its brand. “Faithful Friends congratulate you on the coming New Year.” Pivot to puppy.


“The greatest misconception in journalism today is that “facts” and “views” are oppositional, mutually exclusive or even distinct. Facts are interpretations of states of affairs. There’s no fact without interpretation and there is no interpretation without a point of view.”
— Rob Wijnberg, founder of De Correspondent


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