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By Thomas Baekdal - April 2018

GDPR is now one month away

This is an archived version of a Baekdal/Basic newsletter (it's free). It is sent out about once per week and features the latest articles as well as news and trends about the media industry. If you want to get the next one, don't hesitate to add your email to the list.

In this edition of the Baekdal Plus newsletter, we are going to talk about GDPR. Specifically, about three things:

  1. Publishers Haven't Realized Just How Big a Deal GDPR is
  2. Putting GDPR into Action for Publishers
  3. The Anti-Facebook Focus is Coming Back to Bite Us

Publishers Haven't Realized Just How Big a Deal GDPR is

I published this article a week ago and it is now easily the most read article I have published this year. Yes, GDPR is a big deal!

So, if you haven't seen it yet, I highly recommend that you read it.

Plus: Putting GDPR into Action for Publishers

As a follow-up to the above article, I decided to go into much more detail about the real challenges of GDPR, in two specific ways. First, I talk about the problem with consent, (and even more about how the ad industry seems to think that consent is just something we need to get so that they can keep doing what they have always done).

This is not going to work.

And secondly, I go through a number of practical examples of how we need to rethink the way we do things today.

The Anti-Facebook Focus is Coming Back to Bite Us

Finally, I want to have a short discussion about how we ignore the disconnect between how we write about privacy and data (and Facebook), and what we are actually doing ourselves.

This is becoming a real problem as more and more people realize that we, in the media, blame others while refusing to take any responsibility. And the outcome of this is a really bad trend of declining trust.

The best way to illustrate what is happening is just to look at any article published about privacy or Facebook over the past couple of weeks, and replace the word 'Facebook' with 'Newspaper' ... and then try to read it again.

When you do this, you realize just how out-of-touch we are in the media industry.

For instance, we blame Facebook for collecting data, but newspapers don't just collect data, we have handed that over to 3rd parties who do it for us... without any control at all.

We blame Facebook for not setting the privacy controls to private by default, but newspapers, again, give 3rd party trackers everything. We don't even have a private setting.

We blame Facebook for failing to regulate itself, but newspapers' self-regulation of privacy is to just ignore it completely.

We blame Facebook for not being transparent, but ask newspapers about the same thing, and you won't even get an answer.

We blame Facebook for having data about us, even if we are not on Facebook, but when we look at every single ad script used by newspapers, they are all tracking people across sites. So, when you visit a newspaper and you see an ad, the tracking data used to target you isn't just coming from that one newspaper.

I could go on and on, but my point is that until we start to take responsibility for our faults, we are shooting ourselves in the foot every time we blame others for something we do all the time.

This is not unique to privacy or Facebook. We see this disconnect in a lot of places.

For instance, during the recent Journalism Festival, Meera Selva tweeted this quote:

This is a very good tweet, which highlights a very important problem. We can all see that this is happening. Politicians all around the world are engaging in what can best be described as an information overload campaign, where you end up with so many conflicting points of view that you have no idea what to think anymore.

So, I agree with Meera and Maria that it is indeed a problem. But, again, try replacing 'politicians' with 'newspapers' and just look at what we are doing.

A simple example, I went to one of the big newspapers and I counted the number of articles they had posted in a single day about the attack in Syria. The answer was 39 articles ... in one day. Many providing completely conflicting views.

So, we are also doing this.

Yes, the politicians are flooding people with information that weakens journalists and their stories, but newspapers are also flooding people with reports, which also weakens our journalism and our stories.

If we want to solve this problem, we need to be able to show our readers that we are different. We need to practice what we preach.

BTW: Whenever I start to talk about this, many people think I'm criticizing the media. That's not my intention at all.

As a media analyst, it's my job to figure out how we can do things better and help publishers identify the element that makes things worse. And, right now, we are preventing ourselves from reaching our potential because we keep acting in a way that makes us untrustworthy.

If we want to have a better future, we need to first look inward to make sure that we become the inspiration for something better.

If we want people to understand the importance of privacy and data responsibility, we have to first show people how that could work by doing it ourselves.

If we want to show people a better way to consume content, we have to first create a way that achieves this result. You don't get this with 39 inconsistent articles, while you blame others for posting too much.

So, I'm not trying to criticize the media. I'm trying to say that the biggest problem we have right now is actually coming from within, and that we need to fix this if we want to stay relevant in the future.

We must show the world that we are the better alternative. We must get people to choose us. We must be what others are not.

This is an archived version of a Baekdal/Basic newsletter (it's free). It is sent out about once per week and features the latest articles as well as news and trends about the media industry. If you want to get the next one, don't hesitate to add your email to the list.


The Baekdal/Basic Newsletter is the best way to be notified about the latest media reports, but it also comes with extra insights.

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Thomas Baekdal

Founder, media analyst, author, and publisher. Follow on Twitter

"Thomas Baekdal is one of Scandinavia's most sought-after experts in the digitization of media companies. He has made ​​himself known for his analysis of how digitization has changed the way we consume media."
Swedish business magazine, Resumé


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