Five key media tech trends from June

BBC settles landmark equal pay case

In the UK, the BBC settled a landmark equal pay case in June, as the broadcaster apologised to former China editor, Carrie Gracie, for underpaying her. The corporation also issued a payout to the senior journalist, who has in-turn donated this money to the Fawcett Society, a charity that campaigns for gender equality and women’s rights. It’s a seminal moment for UK media equality, which has seen the debate around equal pay heat up significantly over the first six months of this year. In January, six of the BBC’s leading male presenters including Huw Edwards and Jeremy Vine agreed to take pay cuts following the revelations about equal salaries. You can read more on this story, including from the BBC’s own media editor, Amol Rajan, here.



Instagram lets users shop through stories

While the British Broadcasting Corporation was making long overdue updates to its gender equality policy, US-led Instagram was busy making updates of its own in the technological sphere. The app now lets users shop directly for products via Instagram stories, bypassing the need to take to Google and search. Users simply click on a shopping bag icon within a given story, and can then find more details on the product and have the option to purchase the item directly from the brand — all without leaving the app. It’s an important update that led Dom Hoffman, founder of Vine, to tweet in June: “Instagram is probably the single most important consumer service to watch in the west. It’s basically a full blown mobile web”. 


Instagram shop stories ()


Meanwhile, Snap Inc. is reportedly preparing to launch its own gaming platform. Despite initial interest, the platform has struggled to establish itself against the likes of Facebook and Instagram and these new capabilities could align the app more closely with China’s WeChat, which has seen impressive revenues boosted by in-game purchases.


Alexa Skills

Further technological innovation in the media-tech sector hit the headlines last month, with the launch of a new Alexa Skills kit. The new development software allows developers, businesses, and consumers to make voice apps for Alexa, which can then be downloaded from the Alexa Skills Store. Similar to the types of products on offer on App Store and Google Play, Alex Skills allow users to customise their experience of the Alexa operating system. The BBC for example has already created a Skill to plug the gaps in radio players that don’t provide all of its services, allowing listeners to ask for local stations, national broadcasts and all of the BBC’s podcasts. It’s further evidence that voice is beginning to gain traction in markets around the world.


Amazon Echo ()



Hearst President steps down

June also saw the announcement that David Carey, the President of Hearst Magazines, will step down at the end of 2018. Carey has held the positon since 2010 and has been the architect of some of the most successful magazine launches at that company in recent decades. He now leaves to serve as a fellow at the Harvard Advanced Leadership Initiative, a programme designed to give business, government and other leaders a platform for social-impact initiatives. For the full story click here.


David Carey ()


Facebook magazine

From one legacy print media company to a potential future one, as Facebook launched a high-end business magazine, Grow, in June. The UK and North Europe distributed publication will be issued on a quarterly basis and targets an audience of business leaders. The move has already courted controversy in the industry due to the discrepancy between what it is and what Facebook says it is. Grow is labelled a ‘quarterly magazine for business leaders’ on the physical cover, and lists an editor-in-chief within its pages. However, the company has been quick to refute its own claims: 

“Grow by Facebook is a business marketing program that shares thought leadership content directly with our clients through an annual event as well as print and online marketing channels,” Leila Woodington, Facebook’s head of business marketing for Northern Europe said in a statement. “We do not sell any advertising or charge for any of the events or content as this is purely intended for marketing communications purposes.” So is it a magazine or isn’t it? Well, it’s certainly a type of media platform. In print.



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