Media Insider: Top Media Stories of 2017, What to Expect in 2018, and Facebook’s Impact on Mental Health

Welcome to Media Insider, PR Newswire’s round-up of media stories from the week.

White House Press Room

Photo by John Sonderman used under CC BY-NC 2.0

Top 10 Media Stories of 2017

From President Trump threatening members of the press to tech platforms revealing they’d sold advertising to Russian operatives trying to sway the electorate, there was never a slow news day in 2017. MediaShift recently published its list of the 10 biggest media stories from a year of very big stories. The list included #MeToo and sexual harassment in the media industry; Trump declaring war on the media; layoffs in the industry, like at ESPN and BuzzFeed; and a Pulitzer win for The Panama Papers.

Looking ahead: Here’s what experts are predicting for 2018.

Will Robots Automate Our Journalism Jobs?

According to an analysis by PricewaterhouseCoopers, more than a third of US jobs could be at risk by 2030. The consulting firm McKinsey & Company puts the number even higher, estimating that “about half of all the activities people are paid to do in the world’s workforce could potentially be automated by adapting currently demonstrated technologies.” So, what does this mean for journalists? Sarah Kessler, deputy editor of Quartz at Work, set out to determine which parts of her job could be automated or replaced by robots, and what parts couldn’t. She found that journalists don’t really have much to worry about – most of the technologies currently available, like robotic process automation, are not a good fit for journalism. Instead, many new technologies will help make journalists more efficient and productive.

Related: The Washington Post’s robot reporter has published 850 articles in the past year

Netflix’s Content Chief Says to Expect More Media Consolidation in 2018

The media and entertainment industries have been rife with M&As this year. Netflix’s chief content officer, Ted Sarandos, doesn’t expect that trend to slow down in 2018, reports The Street. “It’s not just a matter of strategy, but a matter of survival in some cases,” says Sarandos. These deals have the potential to impact Netflix, as more media companies consider launching their own direct-to-consumer offerings that could rival the streaming giant. For example, Disney is already making moves on an ad-free, direct-to-consumer app that would house its Marvel and Star Wars films, among other content. The company is also launching an ESPN streaming platform.

The media industry had a mediocre 2018 overall, but is finishing strong since November

Facebook Admits Social Media Can Harm Mental Health

In a new report, Facebook released new research suggesting social media can harm mental health when used in certain ways. The findings suggest, in part, that “some people become depressed by looking at social media profiles and posts of others and then making negative comparisons to themselves,” writes VOA. Also, Facebook users who spent a lot of time only reading information, but not interacting with others, reported feeling worse afterward. In response, Facebook announced initiatives to help support users’ well-being, including: making changes to its News Feed to provide more opportunities for meaningful interactions; giving users a “Snooze” option to hide a person, page, or group for 30 days; and working with organizations around the world to develop support options for people posting about suicide.

FYI: Facebook is also clamping down on “engagement bait” posts that exploit its algorithm.

Good News: Study Finds People Trending Toward Civil Reporting

A new University of Kansas study suggests people are craving more civilized and positive news coverage of their world. The study set up four categories of news stories to test: civil, uncivil, traditional, and entertainment. It found that more neutral items are less likely to get engagement. “Positivity does work,” says Ashley Muddiman, assistant professor of communications. “But it can’t be merely a lack of negativity. It must be something that looks like people are solving a problem.”

President Trump’s press secretary says negative media coverage is the reason for his low approval rating.

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Maria Perez is Director, Audience Website Operations with PR Newswire. An animal lover, she curates content for @PRNPets – that is, when she’s not busy cuddling with her 10-year-old blind Maltese, Toody.

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