After such an upbeat lecture last week by Daniel Meadows, I couldn’t help feeling deflated when Matthew Yeomans started talking about the dire state that newspapers are in today. He started the lecture by telling us that this week alone, three large american newspapers decided to either stop printing or significantly reduce their workforce; the Christian Science Monitor has stopped publishing its printed edition, Time Inc. announced they were cutting 600 jobs and Gannet revealed they were laying off 10% of their workforce.
I got home and immediately checked out the NY Times article he had referred to in order to see for myself. I read:
“Clearly, the sky is falling. The question now is how many people will be left to cover it.”
The title of David Carr’s article was Mourning Old Media’s Decline… not too reasurring for a trainee newspaper journalist about to embark on a career in exactly what he is mourning the death of.
Then the week got worse.
I went to the Cardiff Business Club lecture and dinner on Monday evening where Carolyn McCall revealed that regional and local titles, which have been the cornerstone of their communities for more than a century, could go out of business. She said this was due to permenant changes to the media resulting from “fundamental changes in consumer behaviour, communications and technology.”
Then tonight at a talk at Cardiff University, Kate Adie warned of newspapers which are contracting and losing readers.
Yes the media is changing but should we be mourning it or should we instead celebrate the evolution of the media, which is flowering and becoming more diverse? Like Carolyn McCall said, the media has changed because of technology and consumer behaviour. As I have talked about in my previous posts, the journalist no longer talks at the public. We now hear the consumer’s voice in our news. Matthew Yeomans believes the media has evolved in three ways.
The consumer now has-
- The power to publish (blogs, websites, wikis)
- The power to participate (offering opinions freely online)
- The power to choose (choose which news they want by setting up online bookmarks, RSS feeds)
This shift of power in the role of journalists and consumers has brought many opportunities for journalists to become interactive with their public. Journalists therefore need to appreciate the benefits the evolving media could have on their profession.
I stumbled across an article titled ’10 reasons there’s a bright future for journalism’, which summarised the ideas Matthew Yeomans spoke about in the lecture and my personal views towards the evolution of media.
In a shortened version here are the 10 points:
1. More access to more journalism worldwide.
2. Aggregation and personalisation satisfies readers.
3. Digital delivery offers more ways to reach people.
4. There are more fact-checkers than ever in the history of journalism.
5. Collaborative investigations between pro and amateur journalists.
6. More voices are part of the news conversation.
7. Greater transparency and a more personal tone.
8. Growing advertising revenues online.
9. An online shift from print could improve our environmental impact.
10. Stories never end.
We can’t predict what will happen to the media in the future but when have we ever had a crystal ball at our fingertips?
Maybe the future will be the e-paper?
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Whatever the future, as a trainee journalist becoming familiar with ways to use technology to improve the quality of journalism, I’m not worried about this change at all. Change is inevitable and is interesting. Of course I am passionate about newspapers and love nothing better than sitting reading the news over a coffee (the traditional way). People are always skeptical about change but we need to be able to embrace it rather than throw our pens away just yet.