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Alexander Amzin: “I really hope that independent media will remain among the survivors”

Alexander Amzin: “I really hope that independent media will remain among the survivors”
How the coronavirus pandemic, quarantine and isolation affected the media market, what the future holds for the media, and what advice you can give to readers and editors right now — independent media consultant, host of the telegram channel @themedia, expert on "The Earth Is Flat - How to read media?" Alexander Amzin.

- Since the beginning of the year, we have been monitoring changes in the world due to the epidemic and quarantine and have been in the active phase in Russia for a month now. What are the main trends in the media? What has changed radically? Or did the problems that already existed manifest themselves?

- There are several main trends.
Firstly, it is a very slow understanding that the usual metrics and business models are of little use for the current crisis. For example, the attendance metric will give abnormal signals in comparison with past periods and, importantly, with future ones. It’s better to upgrade to new metrics that are more community and product oriented.
Secondly, the underestimation of the duration of the media crisis and the advertising model. For Russia, everything seems to begin to improve no earlier than the fourth quarter, and many media outlets do not have such a margin of safety.

Out of the problems, I would also like to highlight two. Business-events as a replacement for an advertising model in conditions of self-isolation were not the best choice. State-regulatory measures for the media by the state and platforms strongly affect editorial policy and, ultimately, lead to both censorship and self-censorship.

- Do you consider the balance between fake and genuine news dangerous? WHO declared fake a threat, including in the literal sense of health. In Russia, criminal penalties have been introduced for fakes about the virus. Do you think this can help?

- I consider the omission to be dangerous. Official sources (both in Russia and in other countries) for a long time hid the real extent of the pandemic from the population, and any negative forecasts were branded with alarmism. Fakes, on the one hand, must be suppressed. But it is unacceptable to lower the dark horses from above, block the distribution of additional information, and pursue an opaque communication policy.

- They say that "the world will no longer be the same." What will change in the media forever? What changes will remain after coronavirus in the media field?

- It's too early to talk about what will change. It seems that until 2020, many media experimented with formats, and now the crisis will conduct an experiment to select, to separate the far-fetched from allowing to survive. I really hope that independent media will remain among the survivors, but probably in vain. Most likely, on the contrary, many will have the feeling that it is imperative to receive state support to cover social problems. This is a vicious practice, and the crisis makes it profitable for survival. Especially important will be the sector of native advertising for environmental organizations and events.

- Do you have the top 5 tips for media readers, news recipients?

1. After reading the news, think about what you have not been told.

2. Remember that there is no conspiracy, but stupidity is limitless.

3. Verify what was said and the position of the person. A virologist, not an official, should talk about viruses.

4. The main thing is not the numbers, but their dynamics. Expect a recession, watch for growth.

5. Do not rejoice at anything prematurely. Victories in previous battles do not mean victory in this one.

- And the top 5 tips for editors, those involved in the production of information? What kind of mistakes do you see from the media?

1. The news is the same for everyone. Think up what exactly you will add every day.

2. You work for people who know even less than you. Patiently explain, give a reason to return for information.

3. Forget the problems of your circle, look for problems outside the creative class.

4. Urgently learn to analyze data and build graphs.

5. To choose freaks and conspiracy therapists is vile in this situation.

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