Dec 1, 2021 • 29M

Chasing quality: Andrew Jaspan's academic wire service

Plus first pass of Australia's anti-troll law

Hal Crawford
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Hello everyone

Andrew Jaspan is the founder of The Conversation and the “force of nature” behind a new news startup called 360info. 360info is conducting a closed trial right now, but will open for business in the new year.

Andrew Jaspan

In the podcast this week Jaspan reveals his thinking behind what is best described as an academic wire service, or news agency. While playing in the same space as The Conversation, which he began in 2011, his new venture avoids going head-to-head with it.

Yes, 360info is a research-fuelled content creator based at a university (Monash), using journalists to decipher the obtuse language of the academy. But as you’ll hear in the interview, unlike The Conversation, 360info does not provide a direct-to-public site or interface, instead distributing articles and graphics through a content management system (CMS) to partner publications. Anyone can partner, provided they abide by the Creative Commons rules associated with the content.

I really enjoyed meeting Jaspan. I think you’ll appreciate his experience and how he comes at the problem of providing information to the masses. I wrote about 360info at length for The Spinoff, and the CM interview with CEO of The Conversation Lisa Watts is also highly relevant.

Pinging the trolls

The ANZ media atmosphere has been thick with good media stories of late. In Australia, there is the fascinating development of Social Media (Anti-Trolling) Bill 2021, an early draft of which has just been released by the government. It’s not long - 23 pages - and it’s pretty straightforward, or at least seems to be.

The bill completely reverses the situation created by the High Court decision in the Dylan Voller case, where news companies were held to be the publishers of third-party comments on their social media pages. You will remember the case caused global headlines and furrowed the Crawford Media brow for a couple of weeks. Being “the publisher” means you are responsible for defamatory comments made by people you don’t control on a platform you don’t own. It didn’t seem right.

This law is super clear: “An Australian person who maintains or administers a page of a social media service is taken to not be a publisher of a third part comment posted on the page”. Instead, the proposed new law flips it so that  social media companies are the publishers of comments, with several defences available to them to avoid being on the hook for every idiot’s utterances.

I think I should go back to the razor sharp Hannah Marshall for comment on this one.

Bye for now,

Hal