scenestr Publisher On Facebook News Blackout

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Yesterday Facebook Zucked news sites, including this one, off its platform. Reaction was offered from all quarters and we’d be remiss if we didn’t offer ours.



What We Reckon Facebook Thinks

No one knows how this will all end up – not even Facebook. The goons at Menlo Park would have game theoried the hell out of this blitzkrieg and you can bet on two things:

First they'd have felt they had no choice. Better to die on one’s feet rather living on knees: the prospect of waiting for the Australian federal government to scribe a global how-to instruction manual in extracting cash from its all-devouring, user-generated content algorithm was simply not an option.

Second, Facebook wouldn’t expect to actually ‘die’ and they would have in place a number of exit contingencies (such as turning everything back on and announce it was ‘just a taste’).

"I love It When When There’s A Bit Of Sh#t About"

The closest anyone ever came to being a mentor to me used to say this a lot – always with a twinkle in the eye. Win lose or draw it always kept things interesting.

And there is indeed a bit sh#t about. And I can’t deny I’m a bit a lot fascinated. This Facebook news blackout does have an upside. When traditional media markets were shocked in the face of the digital onslaught, publishers moved to deliver (some of) their journalism online (or in many cases, not).

That new paradigm lasted barely five years before the advent of social media. And it was all fun and games before things became messy – and lucrative. Was social media, media? Or a just platform. Social media doesn’t review gigs or report war news from 'the front', but it does suggest gig articles and filter voices it disagrees with.

All the while; it's ripped eye-watering amounts of dollarydoos from the coffers of Australian media of all stripes. You can include this site and Murdoch and all the rest.

And so the Australian government wants to have that discussion – and it's a good discussion to have: not who gets the dollars but what exactly is Facebook and should it pay for content it profits handsomely from? My jury is back. Facebook is media – not as we know it, Captain, but it’s new media and it trades in information, eyeballs and sells advertising. Gobloads of it.

When the tide goes in you learn who’s been swimming naked

The uber-juggernaut of social media also heralded the relatively recent arrival of websites whose business model is almost exclusively built on Facebook Likes. Articles are short. Journalism is scant (top five left-handed bookstores in Rockhampton anyone?). Google News barely acknowledges their existence … but there is a sizeable market for that dross it.

Yesterday’s events saw the tide go out. It’s clear that more than a few operators have been swimming naked with a strong case to be made those operators were never media but simply packaging plants for Facebook who have been outed as the real media all along. Oh my.

scenestr has relatively few Facebook Likes so our exposure to this sh#tshow is proportionately small.

scenestr.com.au ranks consistently top of the pile on Google News

Along with a couple of other highly performing entertainment sites we do very well thank you very much.

Just Google:
• Fresh Produce Lineup 
• Splendour In The Grass Review 
• Bluesfest Review
• West Australia Music Awards Winners 
• South Australia Music Awards winners to get the gist

scenestr is Nielsen-Rated

scenestr.com.au is one of only a handful of Australian entertainment sites which are Nielsen-rated.

Nielsen is the gold standard in transparent internet ratings. It's the same people who do the TV ratings and the only standard acknowledged by the IAB. Our digital ratings are solid – and transparent – and we don’t rely heavily on Facebook to achieve them.

scenestr covers feb 2021
scenestr magazine on the streets – right now.
Clockwise from left NSW, Queensland, South Australia and Victoria

60,000 Copies Of scenestr Magazine Go Missing Each Month

Well we know exactly where they go. They get picked up.

Right now scenestr magazine is on the ground from Fitzroy to Fremantle, Bondi to Byron and all over the southern hemisphere’s largest Fringe in Adelaide. We’re in JB HiFis and bookstores. It’s in adult shops and down at your local.

scenestr is a shut-the-gate market leader – and only national operator – in print entertainment media and today we are enjoying the glow of being truly our own people. Facebook? In the immortal words of Lauren, “we ain’t bothered”.

not bothered

The Rub

While scenestr’s brand capabilities in genuine national print and on Google render us relatively immune to Facebook’s clutches we are fortunate.

I have no sympathy for the publishers of Daily Mail, News.Com.Au or The Guardian for myriad reasons which don’t warrant expanding upon here however, the brash and brattish news blackout has rendered many smaller arts and music performers, promoters and for-the-love-of-it bloggers adrift.

Facebook may argue they had no choice but to strike first but they did have choice as to the manner of the blackout and whether advance warning would be offered, especially if, as they claim, they seek a genuine discussion on this issue. Facebook knew many an indie advertising campaign on their platform would be collateral damage. In high stake games, bastardry is not an uncommon to the playbook. As things stand, Facebook isn’t bothered either but that could change in a flash.

Now What?

Facebook will have lost paint over this but not so much they won’t recover, especially if there is no alternative forthcoming. The love hate relationship with streaming platforms and royalties is instructive. Power is seductive and almost everyone has their price (of compliance).

Many an entrepreneurial conversation would have started today around launching/ bringing forward a launch of a rival. Our own internal machine flirted with the notion of working up a Parler account. For better or worse we determined there was sufficient public sentiment (at least at this stage in that platform’s development) to calculate scenestr + parler = cancel. And that was that.

Facebook have stuffed this up. Who pays for it is the gazillionberg question. On to day two – and it is only day two.

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