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2016年11月30日星期三

狗咬狗


用「狗」形容主流傳媒,是學院派的一貫做法。而新舊媒體之間的關係,似乎是「狗咬狗」。過去數年,廣告收入從舊媒體轉移至新媒體(尤其是針對年輕人的宣傳活動),於是舊媒體停刊熄機裁員減薪(尤其是文字傳媒),新媒體則只會聘請三十歲以下的年輕人,你叫舊媒體的傳媒人怎麼辦?中年轉業還是提早退休?難怪新聞部的男女主播輪流跳船,然後透過其他途徑把名氣套現,止蝕抽身轉型轉飯碗。簡單地說:新的殺死舊的,但老前輩尚未死得,還有一點反擊能力。

剛剛過去的美國總統選舉為舊媒體提供報復的機會,面對一地的眼鏡碎(提示:民調失準),主流傳媒為了挽回聲譽以及推卸責任,把矛頭指向搶走不少廣告收入的社交媒體 Facebook (FB),認為 FB 上面有不少虛假的新聞或小道消息,打擊了希拉莉的選情,直接導致狂人特朗普(大陸譯名:川普)勝出, FB 教主朱克伯格應該為此承擔部份責任,並且採取行動審查用戶所發布的消息,諸如此類。

這一招很毒,但是 FB 教主應該不會中計,原因如下:

首先, FB 的原意是社交平台,用來發放「個人新聞」(黎智英的說法),並非傳統的新聞機構。被用來發布不知真偽的新聞或消息,是意料之外的發展,偏離了成立的宗旨。如果 FB 引入 In-house editor 或 Fact-checker,每日面對數量龐大的資訊進行實時 (Real-time) 審查,不但會大幅增加成本,而且會令到商業模式 (Business model) 向舊媒體(傳統的新聞機構)靠攏或演化,向已經被時代淘汰的老前輩學習?咪玩啦!(粵語:請不要開玩笑)這種又花錢又花時間,而且吃力不討好,難度又極高的工作,應該留給國家級的情報機關(例如:CIA)。而即使是 CIA ,也無法阻止類似 911 的恐怖襲擊,查證真偽的難度可想而知。

第二,何謂真偽,也視乎觀點與角度。同一場戰爭,勝方或負方,男人或女人,大人與小孩,本地人與外來者,會有不同的看法或者結論。如果你還不明白,請參考黑澤明電影<羅生門>(1950),故事改編自日本作家芥川龍之介的兩篇小說。查證真偽之前,閣下必須確立調查的方向與範圍、優先次序和自己的底線,亦即是要 Take Side 或押注(某種價值觀或政治理念)。有政治立場的生意,會失去靈活性,發展的空間會自動縮小。對,教你變成害你。舊媒體用心險惡,可見一斑。

第三, FB 的廣告收入顯示,這盤生意可能已經見頂,所以教主朱克伯格和他的華裔醫生老婆 Priscilla Chan 較早前承諾捐出 30 億美元,在未來 10 年內資助醫學研究(提示:Chan Zuckerberg Initiative),目標是消滅所有的病症,為轉戰生命科技或醫療產業鋪路。對於發展成熟甚至是開始走下坡的產品,美國佬的慣技是把它們向第三世界推銷(例子:麥當勞快餐、迪士尼樂園),而最後一步通常是出售股權或特許經營權(例如:麥當勞的中港業務),又或者利用崇洋的東方人承擔虧損(例如:香港和上海的迪士尼樂園)。秘訣在重量不重質,旨在延長產品的壽命,賺盡最後的一分錢。

亞洲兩個人口大國(中國和印度)是理所當然的選擇。從這個角度看, FB 教主熱衷中國市場(證據:閱讀習近平著作、到天安門跑步), Google 選擇進軍印度,非常合理。 Google 在中國市場吃過苦頭,轉戰亞洲最大的民主國家,不難理解。對美國人來說,印度再髒再亂政府再官僚,也是個真正的民主國家。於是乎, FB 教主有個華裔老婆, Google 有位印度裔 CEO,說明少數族裔在跨國企業中的用途。既然是見頂的生意,就沒有必要作出重大的改動或者增加投資,只需要做一些應酬式的表面功夫(例如:把 Fact-checking 的工作交給外盤商),又或者進行某程度上的本地化(例如:把自我審查的工作交給中方的合作夥伴)就可以了。

第四, FB 教主應該不是那種頭巾氣重,喜歡講原則或道德的知識份子。看他如何擇偶就知道了:無論是進軍中國市場,還是轉戰生命科技或醫療產業,他的華裔醫生老婆 Priscilla Chan 都有利用價值。廣東話:「幫到手!」(有助力)對他來說,她是一枚有利用價值的棋子,同時兼具生兒育女的功能。算到盡,視枕邊人為工具,這個男人是生意人,具備策略性思維 (Strategic Thinking),不是講理想的知識份子。婚姻關係層面廣闊,影響深遠,牽涉精神、肉體、金錢、物質、階級和權力。觀察別人如何擇偶,你會看到對方的動機、本質和層次。你我的社交圈內,總有些泛泛之交,浮光掠影,煙霧迷漫,直至某日你見到對方的另一半,嚇了一跳,恍然大悟,終於明白對方是甚麼人。至於新聞故事或小道消息如何求真,那是學院派寫論文或者開研討會噴口水的題目,並非生意人最關心的事情。

結論

FB 這盤生意,也許已經見頂,又或者來到轉角位,需要考慮如何轉型。由於商業模式不同,舊媒體的經驗其實沒有太大的參考價值,但是老前輩卻喜歡對爭飯吃的新人指指點點,教你如何做生意。這場關於假新聞的口水戰,不妨視之為傳媒行業的世代戰爭 (Generation War)。這個行業最麻煩的地方,是商業原則只是有限度適用,更多時候不適用,而原因可以很複雜(例如:政治、宗教或文化),三言兩語說不清楚。華人社會的中文傳媒,就更加麻煩,先天不足(缺乏言論自由的傳統)加上後天失調(落入動機複雜的人手中),成為一個扭曲的怪胎。試圖利用傳媒的外行人看不通,結果栽在一個用學院理論包裝的偏門行業手中。在虛擬世界的網絡迷宮之內,無定向刀劍暗器橫飛。這種危險的玩意,適合不怕死的小朋友。 Auntie 已經一把年紀,不敢玩 FB ,一來是沒有時間,二來是覺得沒有必要,三來是不想成為教主送給習包子的見面禮。這位教主,我不敢低估。

插圖來源:Wikipedia

延伸閱讀/參考資料:

New York Times apologizes for coverage of presidential election
By David Walsh
World Socialist Website (16 Nov 2016)
https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2016/11/16/time-n16.html
Extract: In two open letters last Friday, one addressed to its staff and another directed to its readers, the New York Times apologized for its coverage of the US presidential election and promised to approach the Donald Trump administration with impartiality and fairness. The letters represent a white flag of surrender to Trump and the extreme right unfurled by an important element of the American liberal establishment. In his letter to “colleagues,” Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. referred to “one of the most momentous weeks in our nation’s recent history” and urged his staff to recall the “instructions” of Adolph Ochs (1858-1935), onetime owner and publisher of the Times, “to cover the news without fear or favor.” It is, one might say, a little late in the day for that. The Times has been one of the principal voices of the American ruling elite for more than a century and a half, encouraging or approving countless crimes and injustices. In recent years, it has consistently served as a propaganda arm of the CIA and Pentagon, promoting US wars of aggression from Serbia to Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria and leading the media campaign of war-mongering against Russia.

Donald Trump says New York Times apologized for 'bad coverage' of him
By Lauren Carroll
Politifact (Nov 15, 2016)
http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2016/nov/15/donald-trump/donald-trump-says-new-york-times-apologized-bad-co/
Extract: President-elect Donald Trump doesn’t think the New York Times has been fair to him. Amid a series of tweets criticizing the New York Times, Trump said the news organization wrote a letter to readers after the election, apologizing for their "bad coverage" of him." The @nytimes sent a letter to their subscribers apologizing for their BAD coverage of me. I wonder if it will change - doubt it?" Trump tweeted Nov. 13.

Facebook Fake News Generators Stir Up Controversy
Heavy.com (Nov 19, 2016)
http://heavy.com/tech/2016/11/facebook-fake-news-mark-true-or-false-zuckerberg-share-generator-clone-zone-shareonfb/
Extract: Facebook has been in the hot seat amid speculation that fake news could have helped swing the election in Donald Trump’s favor. While CEO Mark Zuckerberg has repeatedly said his company is not a publishing site, he announced it would release new tools to flag down fake content. Some news sites are dedicated to creating fake news and there is money to be made. In one Macedonian town, writers raked in thousands of dollars from ad clicks by writing fake news articles that were pro-Trump, according to BuzzFeed News.

Breaking news
Facebook, and the trouble in being everything to everyone
The Economist (Nov 16th 2016)
http://www.economist.com/blogs/freeexchange/2016/11/breaking-news
Extract: Facebook, which has nearly 2 bn monthly active users, is a media goliath. Users spend much of their time at the site interacting with friends and family, or sharing photos and videos. Yet Facebook is also an increasingly important location for the publication and sharing of news. According to a study conducted by the Pew Research Centre, 44% of American adults said they get some news from Facebook. Some of that news, as it turns out, is fake. During the campaign, wild and untrue stories from fake news sites were occasionally posted to Facebook, where they were shared widely. Facebook’s algorithms sometimes gave the stories a boost, because they were popular. Yet Facebook has moved gingerly in its efforts to curate news or weed out fake stories, as such efforts disproportionately affect right-leaning pieces. Facebook is by no means the only web platform to face such headaches; Google has also had problems with fake news stories turning up in search results. But Facebook is the most influential.

Data heavy: Facebook’s problems
The Economist Espresso (Nov 28, 2016)
https://espresso.economist.com/0993b7960f34c29b1fdb6516be27046f
Extract: The row about purveying fake news grabs the headlines, but the social-media giant has other woes, too. One is a falling share price, due to predictions of slower growth and lower margins. Objections from European data-protection authorities have forced it to pause a controversial user-data merger with WhatsApp, a Facebook-owned messaging service. For the second time in a few weeks, it has had to admit to flaws in the way it measures how ads are faring. And it has reportedly developed a censorship tool to gain re-entry to the Chinese market. All these matter because of Facebook’s heft: it has nearly 1.8 bn monthly users, or about half of the internet’s population. With size comes responsibility, but it is unclear if Mark Zuckerberg fully grasps this. When first asked, the firm’s founder said the idea that fake news had affected America’s election was “pretty crazy”. Actually, it’s not.

Facebook nears peak ad load
Warc (29 July 2016)
http://www.warc.com/LatestNews/News/Facebook_nears_peak_ad_load.news?ID=37159
Extract: Facebook, the social network, anticipates that ad loads on its platform will be nearing a peak level by the middle of next year, but remains optimistic about fuelling revenue growth in other ways. The firm's ad revenue rose by 63% to $6.2 bn in the last quarter, with mobile taking 84% of this total. But David Wehner, Facebook's Chief Financial Officer, suggested ad loads will soon reach a peak, with a likely impact on future growth. "We think we're in a good zone on the right ad load, and we do think there's opportunities to grow that modestly. But as we look forward into 2017, we think it'll be a less significant factor driving inventory growth." Expanding further, he reported that ad loads were "definitely up from where we were a few years ago", and should reach the maximum level in just a few months. "We anticipate ad load on Facebook will continue to grow modestly over the next 12 months, and then will be a less significant factor driving revenue growth after mid-2017," Wehner said.

Facebook Said to Create Censorship Tool to Get Back Into China
By MIKE ISAAC 
The New York Times (Nov 22, 2016)
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/22/technology/facebook-censorship-tool-china.html?_r=0
Extract: The social network has quietly developed software to suppress posts from appearing in people’s news feeds in specific geographic areas, according to three current and former Facebook employees, who asked for anonymity because the tool is confidential. The feature was created to help Facebook get into China, a market where the social network has been blocked, these people said. Mr. Zuckerberg has supported and defended the effort, the people added. Facebook has restricted content in other countries before, such as Pakistan, Russia and Turkey, in keeping with the typical practice of American internet companies that generally comply with government requests to block certain content after it is posted. Facebook blocked roughly 55,000 pieces of content in about 20 countries between July 2015 and December 2015, for example. But the new feature takes that a step further by preventing content from appearing in feeds in China in the first place.

Facebook does not intend to suppress the posts itself. Instead, it would offer the software to enable a third party — in this case, most likely a partner Chinese company — to monitor popular stories and topics that bubble up as users share them across the social network, the people said. Facebook’s partner would then have full control to decide whether those posts should show up in users’ feeds. But the project illustrates the extent to which Facebook may be willing to compromise one of its core mission statements, “to make the world more open and connected,” to gain access to a market of 1.4 billion Chinese people. Some analysts have said Facebook’s best option is to follow a model laid out by other internet companies and cooperate with a local company or investor. Finding a partner — and potentially allowing it to own a majority stake in Facebook’s China operation — would take the burden of censorship and surveillance off the Silicon Valley company. It would also let Facebook rely on a local company’s government connections and experience to deal with the difficult task of communicating with Beijing.

Wikipedia - Censorship of Facebook (FB)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Censorship_of_Facebook
Extract: Several countries have interfered with or banned access to the social networking website Facebook, including Bangladesh, China, Iran, North Korea and Syria. Use of the website has also been restricted in other ways in other countries. As of May 2016, the only countries to ban access around the clock to the social networking site are China, Iran, and North Korea. However, since the vast majority of North Korean residents do not have access to the internet, in reality China and Iran are the only countries where access to Facebook is actively restricted in a wholesale manner.

Chan Zuckerberg Initiative
https://chanzuckerberg.com/
https://zh-hk.facebook.com/chanzuckerberginitiative/
Extract: We want every child to grow up in a better world. Our hopes for the future center on two ideas: advancing human potential and promoting equality. We’ll focus first on personalized learning, curing disease, connecting people and building strong communities. We will make long-term investments over 25, 50 or even 100 years because our greatest challenges require time to solve.

Google for India
Google India Blog (Sept 27, 2016)
https://googleindia.blogspot.hk/2016/09/google-for-india-making-our-products.html
Extract: The growth of the Internet has been explosive in India. Every second, three more Indians come online for the first time — that’s over 10,000 people every hour. But this latest wave of Internet users still has significant barriers to getting the most out of the Internet: low-powered phones, 2G connections, and very little data. So today at our second Google for India event, we announced several new Google products, platforms and access programs to deepen India’s participation in the Internet.

Google launches offline YouTube app and Wi-Fi expansion in India
by Hope King
CNN Tech (Sept 27, 2016)
http://money.cnn.com/2016/09/27/technology/google-india/
Extract: With an expected population of 1.4 billion by 2022, India is a critical market for many tech companies. But only one fifth of the country's adults have access to the internet -- often at slow connections. This poses a challenge and opportunity for Google and its main competitor in the country, Facebook (FB, Tech30). Facebook's Free Basics program offers free internet access to a limited number of websites, including Facebook, but regulators pushed back. Regulators ruled that companies can't charge different prices for various types of data, and by making parts of the internet free, Facebook violated the premise. For now, Google is taking a different approach to tailoring its products for the region. Here's a look at what's planned:

Google Allo’s Limitations Explained in One Word: “India”
By Ron Amadeo
arstechnica.com (Sept 28, 2016)
http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2016/09/google-allos-limitations-explained-in-one-word-india/
Extract: Google's love affair with India is no secret. Google is all about scale and having huge numbers of users, and if you look at a list of countries by population, China is first with 1.38 billion people; India is second with 1.32 billion people; and the United States is third, with 324 million people. Google would love to go to China, but that would mean dealing with the censorship-happy Chinese government, so India is the biggest country in the world where Google can freely do business. India is also the home country of Google CEO Sundar Pichai. Plenty of Google projects have targeted India. If that's not enough evidence, Pichai just published an op-ed in The Economic Times of India explaining how Google is heavily targeting India. Google loves India.

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2009 年 9 月 25 日
http://xiaoshousha.blogspot.hk/2009/09/blog-post_25.html
節錄:外來宗教跟跨國企業一樣,要決定是否本土化,又或者本土化到那一個程度。而另一個相關的問題是,如何處理跟當權者的關係。佛教走本土化的道路,徹底融入中國文化,跟當權者妥協,委曲求存,找到生存的空間,而代價是面目全非,佛寺一度淪落至成為放高利貸、進行二手買賣,甚至賣淫活動的場所。西方的耶教為了保持純潔,拒絕本土化,結果跟儒家思想格格不入,無法真正融入中國人社會,也開罪了當權者,令拓展業務的過程困難重重,死結至今未解。

V 煞、1812、RIC
2013 年 1 月 1 日
http://xiaoshousha.blogspot.hk/2013/01/v-1812ric.html
節錄:擁有同樣特質的國家,還有中國和印度。同樣是幅員廣闊,人口眾多,歷史悠久,國情複雜,也同樣地叫戰績彪炳的敵人泥足深陷,最後不得不全面撤退。中國八年抗戰(如果從東北三省淪陷開始計算是十四年),日本人始終無法全面攻陷和控制這個國家,最後靠美國人的核彈結束戰爭。英國人縱橫七海,見多識廣,手段靈活,但是最後敵不過一個採用和平手段抗爭的瘦小印度人(聖雄甘地),要放棄大英帝國皇冠上的珠寶。

洋鸚鵡
2015 年 10 月 3 日
http://xiaoshousha.blogspot.hk/2015/10/blog-post.html
節錄:外國一些名牌大學,也面對同樣的問題。大量中國學生湧入,學費源源不絕送上門,但是中國學生收得太多太濫的話,學校需要照顧他們的獨特口味和需要,代價是容易失去自我,甚至是自貶身價。解決之道?在中國境內開設分校(分店),讓中國顧客無須奔波千里,又可以把中國學生集中管理,令母校校園保持安寧恬靜,優良傳統免受中國學生的衝擊。換言之,錢照賺,但是想辦法減少所帶來的副作用。

去留之間
2013 年 7 月 26 日
http://xiaoshousha.blogspot.hk/2013/07/blog-post_26.html
節錄:香港的營商環境變化多端,風高浪急,充滿挑戰,去留之間,充份考驗生意人的眼光與智慧。八九十年代,英資開始部署淡出。華資接力的結果,是地產霸權坐大,成為香港的深層次矛盾。未來是否會由往績欠佳以及肩負政治任務的中資接手,有待觀察。近年多宗的跨國收購合併活動均顯示,國家隊高價接貨的一刻,極有可能是派對終結,又或者是某個行業開始走下坡之時。(例如:中投公司 + Blackstone、Lenovo + IBM)

收數的女人
2013 年 7 月5 日
http://xiaoshousha.blogspot.hk/2013/07/blog-post.html
節錄:網上有人這樣看:梅伯中國夢醒,明白是與虎謀皮,於是送走小鄧這位虎妻,進行業務重組。姑勿論離婚的真正原因是甚麼,對於一個出身寒微,原名「文革」的大陸女人來說,實在了不起。國產中文的說法:她是一座豐碑。她證明了大陸女人就算長得不漂亮,單憑意志和機心,也可以借助有錢的老男人改變命運。

賢內助(四)
2015 年 5 月 7 日
http://xiaoshousha.blogspot.hk/2015/05/blog-post_7.html
節錄:香港的主流傳媒,與影視作品一樣,跟女權運動絕緣。對於性別角色、愛情、婚姻、生育等題目,所採取的觀點,充滿中國特色父權社會的色彩:女人讀書再多,也只配充當男人的後勤支援。這個世界是屬於男人的,女人只需要專心做好賢內助。香港的主流傳媒,不管是政治、財經,還是娛樂新聞,都充滿性別歧視的色彩。女孩子長期受薰陶,會產生怎樣的效果,不難想像。

賢內助 (一)
2010 年 2 月 5 日
http://xiaoshousha.blogspot.hk/2010/02/blog-post_05.html
節錄:翻閱過一本由內地出版、評點金庸筆下人物的閒書,裡面把黃蓉「定性」為「高幹子弟」,並且歌頌她的「女性智慧」 —— 明明天資聰穎,有家世有人脈(父親是東邪黃藥師),有條件成為絕頂高手,卻選擇回歸家庭做賢妻良母,全心全意協助丈夫郭靖發展事業,是好老婆的典範。這是用家的心態,也是中國式父權社會的觀點。背後的理念,是女人的生存意義,在於成就她的男人。可以想像,作者是個窮小子,很想娶個高幹女兒,然後利用關係向上爬。

30/11/2016