VANCOUVER, Wash. – Dan Fletcher wants to change the way you get news. The former director of news at Facebook and online manager at Time magazine has co-founded a new online venture called Beacon Reader, where subscribers “sponsor” a writer in exchange for access to all Beacon Reader’s online content.
During a recent Murrow Interview, Fletcher considered how media continues to struggle.
“As a consumer of news, I want things that challenge my opinions,” he said.
He worries that with today’s hyper personalized content, it is more difficult to discover opposing or differing viewpoints. News consumers often see information that is preselected for them by complex online algorithms that help find more targeted content.
But the price might be that alternative stories or differing viewpoints get lost.
“Traditional legacy news and INews operations now find themselves at odds over objectivity,” said Fletcher.
The Murrow Interview is hosted by Lawrence Pintak, founding dean of The Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University, who echoed Fletcher’s concerns. He asked, “in our ever changing news environment, which comes first: trustworthy news content or financial viability?”
Fletcher said a hunger for information will change the marketplace, but until that happens consumers need to know they may not be getting the entire news picture.
“I don’t think anyone has the answer,” he said. “I don’t think even the folks who are doing well would admit that they have the answer. I think it’s about finding things that work in the moment and trying to guess what comes next.”
The Beacon Reader model offers funding to reporters who make content available to consumers willing to pay $5 a month for a subscription. Reporters earn 70 percent of that subscription, while readers get content they don’t see anywhere else. More than 100 reporters are involved in the project.
See photos of the interview here.
Contact: Darin Watkins, Edward R. Murrow College of Communication, 509-335-4456, firstname.lastname@example.org