journalism

The Future of Print Journalism

Print journalism has been profoundly affected by the Internet. Previously the ‘gatekeepers of information’, journalists were perceived as holding a position of responsibility in shaping how society receive and view issues. The free and instant access to news sources on the Internet has made news accessible through a multitude of online sources, leaving the position of print journalism in question. Now it faces a fork in the road: will it die, or adapt and change with the online environment?

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Online journalism: the inevitable future?

The move from consumers to online news sources has led to a continual decrease in newspaper sales and TV viewers. Accordingly, advertisers are choosing to spend elsewhere. It is becoming increasingly clear that the current media business model will die. If this trend continues there won’t be enough to sustain the production of newspapers, or pay the costs for running TV news.

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As the statistics in the infographic above illustrate, the death of print newspapers appears inevitable. What are the implications if print journalism does go the way of the dinosaur though?

The role of the journalist is an important one. They are responsible for reporting the news and issues in an objective and ethical manner, using credible sources and only dealing in facts. Of course, some media outlets have been guilty of sensationalist, unethical and biased reporting, particularly the tabloid media. By and large though, journalists have fulfilled this role.

The eroding role of journalists as the gatekeepers of news has raised one important question: how can we trust news reported by Internet sources? Most of these sources do not have the same checks in place to ensure the information is accurate. If journalists incorrectly reported a story, displayed bias or defamed someone they often faced legal consequences. The anonymous nature of online reporters makes this nearly impossible. Bias, slander and rumour can be reported with very little consequence.

Another implication is the fact that people who use Internet for news have become blind to many important issues. The media has previously had an important role in ranking the most important stories for the day. People were able to gain a picture of world/national events, without the need to investigate for themselves. People are now more likely to find the news that they find most interesting, leaving a vast knowledge gap in their awareness of current affairs. The video below featuring New York Times editor David Carr and Bloomberg Media chairman Andrew Lack, discusses these phenomena at length.

The rise of the Internet has not been all bad for journalism though. It has given journalists a new tool for communication and resource for research. New stories can be discovered through social media or through other new sites. The contact details of sources can be discovered online. Hence they are able to produce more content at a faster rate.

As David Carr and Andrew Lack discuss in the video, it has also led to the rise of online news sites such as Buzzfeed, as well as news aggregators and blogs such as the Huffington Post. This suggests journalism will survive, but it will occupy a slightly different role. Indeed, whether people choose to read news produced by journalists will depend entirely upon their preferences and the type and quality of the work produced.

The central concern with the new age of Internet journalism is how to make money. Unless a more profitable business model is discovered, it is likely the number of journalists will continue to diminish. Buzzfeed and the Huffington Post rely on online advertising to survive, which as yet does not generate the same level of income as advertising did for the traditional media. Prominent newspapers such as The New York Times have introduced a pay wall, while others such as The Guardian offer content for free and are attempting to move into foreign markets in the western world.

Journalism will continue to exist, but not in its current form. As the world becomes more digitalised, journalists will be required to continually adapt to new trends. Their jobs will predicate on the type of content they produce and their ability to command a following of readers.

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Social Media

Does social media reflect who we are?

The use of social media has become so commonplace that anyone without a Facebook profile is viewed as a rebel or maverick. In the fast-paced world of the Internet it seems a lifetime ago that opting out meant simply not creating a MySpace or Bebo page. Back then it was even considered socially acceptable.

In those days you were expected to personalise your page and post with regularity. Now you’re not even required to have a profile picture. And back then you only chose one – Myspace or Bebo – largely due to fact they were essentially the same.

Now most of us are active on several social media platforms. Each have different functions, allowing us to receive and share information in different ways – from pictures of social events to world news, as well as keeping us updated on the lives of exes and other people we barely know any more.

As social media platforms have changed and evolved, so has the way people use them. Some simply consume information and rarely contribute content, either due to laziness or to maintain privacy. For others it represents much more. It is seemingly their means of personal validation through likes and comments, followers and subscribers. It is their forum through which they can vent about small grievances or brag about recent accomplishments (travel and graduation photos, for example).

The way we use social media projects a unique persona, even if it is completely removed from our persona IRL.

In 2007, Forrester Research conducted a study into the different social media users in the U.S., and listed them into six personality types:

  1. The Creators: they spend the most amount of time on social media and fill up everyone’s newsfeed, reporting on their every thought and movement.
  2. Critics: contribute most through comments, likes and shares, but rarely creates their own content.
  3. Collectors: use social media for news and interesting facts. Typically bookmark and use RSS feeds.
  4. Joiners: sign up for every social media site under the sun.
  5. Spectators: the watchers. They may use social media as much as the others but they refrain from voicing their opinions, preferring to watch from the sidelines than get on the field.
  6. Inactive: may have a social media page/profile but never use it.

sm1Data on what ages are most likely to fit personality types

 

Since this study was conducted wayyyy back in 2007, things have changed. Accordingly, there is a new list of social media personalities, which reflect the ‘modern age’. U.K. company First Direct conducted the largest study into social media habits and personalities. They came up with this infographic that lists all the new variants on social media personas they discovered:

 

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Of course, we don’t all fit perfectly into each personality. We’re usually hybrids of at least couple, and have all, at some point, been guilty of ‘Peacocking’.

What do our social media profiles say about us? In most cases not much. It is rare that our social media profiles truly reflect what we are like as a person, other than indicating whether we have a strong grasp on grammar or photography. In truth, the social media world represents a fantasyland, only giving a glimpse into the person you are and the life you lead. Even judging ‘Ultras’, who post constantly, it is nearly impossible to form an accurate opinion of their actual personality based on their social media.

It’s unlikely that you would post mundane elements of your life, even if it were predominantly boring. By the same token, if you lead a rich and interesting life, it is equally unlikely that you would feel the need to prove it to your friends through social media.

Self-expression isn’t the point of social media for many of us though. It’s just a bit of fun and a distraction from work or our next Uni assignment.

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