Journalism Future After Technology Change

Introduction

The field of journalism traces its origin back to the early 16th century when the early members of the fourth estate in Europe started publishing news articles for circulation to the public. Particularly, according to Anderson, journalism is a profession that concentrates on the preparation of news for broadcast through various media platforms, including newspapers, magazines, or the currently popular news websites.1 Notably, the digital age has influenced the nature of journalism considerably, as denoted by the use of the Internet, to meet the dynamic needs of modern society. For this reason, aspects of the media such as newspapers have recorded a decline in growth over the last decade, thus raising concerns over the sustainability of the journalism sector.

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Notably, several print newspaper companies, including Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, have ceased operating recently, thereby denoting the seriousness of the issue brought about by technological trends. Nonetheless, the article “Newspapers are dying, but the future of journalism isn’t grim” by Sophie Kaplan provides an excellent case study of the situation in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, revealing that the future of journalism is bright, despite the demise of newspapers.2 According to Pavlik, the advent of technological changes in the area of journalism has influenced professionals in the area to employ creative ways of delivering news to the public in captivating ways.3 As such, most of the journalists in the industry have incorporated technology in the work to be in line with the dynamic aspects of their audiences. For instance, the various occupants of the fourth estate have embraced the various social media platforms as being in line with the changing preferences of their audiences, as well as the industry trends. In this respect, this paper integrates a case study to argue that, despite technological changes that influenced the death of newspapers, the future of journalism is still bright.

Overall Argument

To demonstrate the above overall argument, it is crucial to show technological changes have altered the face of journalism considerably and for the better even in the absence of newspapers since the audiences of the industry have adopted new ways of acquiring news or any other relevant information. According to Anderson, the digital age has seen more people access the Internet through their smartphones and personal computers among other digital devices.4 As such, they view the use of such devices to access news as more convenient compared to purchasing newspapers or magazines from the inconveniently available vendors. As a result, relative to several years ago, Hermida, Fletcher, Korell, and Logan confirm how the newspapers aspect of the journalism industry has registered a declining growth since contemporary people prefer newspaper websites, social media, and blogs among other online news sources.5

However, the negative trends in the newspaper industry do not mean that nothing can be done to secure the future of the journalism sector. Particularly, the sector needs to adopt technological changes that would facilitate its ability to cope with the prevailing advancements. Therefore, in line with Pavlik’s views, the adoption of creative ways to safeguard the future of the journalism industry is crucial at a time when the timely distribution of reliable news is valued considerably.6 In this regard, the various social media platforms, including Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat among others provide journalists with opportunities to practice their professions creatively.

Social media platforms present journalists with a new information landscape relevant to the production of news. Traditionally, news organizations shared the news after covering events that caught public attention. However, currently, individuals do their recording and sharing of news via the different social media platforms.7 As such, journalists now turn to the different social media areas to tap information, acquire sources, and engage the audiences. In this light, social media has now turned to a useful information landscape that facilitates the dynamism of the journalism sector. Therefore, amid the death of newspapers due to technological changes, social media still acts as an information pool that is crucial for news production and broadcasting.

The efficiency of social media platforms offers journalists opportunities to interact and connect with their audiences.8 The interaction and connection created by social media make it possible for journalists to be constantly aware of what the public wants to be fed through news articles. For instance, news organizations can engage the public in an opinion poll on platforms such as Twitter to understand their perceptions regarding a particular issue of concern. Consequently, the wide coverage of the various social media platforms takes the stories broadcasted by media houses further even to the global frontier. Besides, the wide coverage of the news relayed through social media enhances the productivity of journalists. An inquiry showed that at least 58% of the journalists using the social media report that the tool improves their overall productivity to a considerable extent. In this regard, according to Van der Haak, Parks, and Castells, the productivity gained through the social media suggests that the future of the journalism sector is still promising amid the collapse of some of its sectors such as the newspapers.9

The need for real-time news also makes social media an important tool for journalists to embrace. One of the advantages of modern technology is the ability to enhance the delivery of quality products and services in real-time. For instance, the need to keep up with celebrity news requires journalists to constantly update their audience as the events unfold. Thus, social media is one of the best platforms to use for such news. It offers journalists an opportunity to enhance the efficiency of their professionalism by facilitating the timely broadcasting of news updates as any fresh developments take place. Therefore, the technological changes that influence the nature of journalism offer experts in the field with opportunities that can facilitate the development of the profession through avenues such as social media.

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Explanation of the Case Study

“Newspapers are dying, but the future of journalism isn’t grim” by Sophie Kaplan is an informative case that provides an overview of the extent to which technological changes have led to the diminishing essence of the newspapers as a crucial media of disseminating information to various audiences in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Kaplan underlines that the easy accessibility of the Internet through smartphones and cable television has led to the abandonment of newspapers as the sole source of information.10 Evidently, the easy accessibility of the Internet through an array of digital devices makes it possible and convenient to obtain news updates from platforms, including the ones provided by the different social media. Hence, such Internet-based platforms are preferable to traditional print sources. For this reason, this worrying factor has led to the identification of technology as a threat to the future of journalism.

The adversity of the situation has led to the closure of several print media houses, including the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, The Independent, Cincinnati Post, and the Baltimore Examiner. Kaplan pinpoints the Internet revolution as the key factor that has influenced some of the members of the fourth estate to vacate a home that has continually undergone development since the 16th century.11 The worrying downward trend of the newspapers industry has prompted bloggers to document the situation, thus underlining the negative impacts of technology on journalism.

However, according to Kaplan, online blogs such as the Newspaper Death Watch keep visitors updated about the different print media organizations that have gone out of business because of technological changes. Interestingly, the blog not only covers stories about the declining newspapers but also the rebirth of journalism. As such, Kaplan views the idea of narrating the decline, as well as the rebirth of the journalism field as a dramatic approach to the issue.12 In this respect, the rebirth of the journalism sector is triggered by changes in technology. People in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, should brace themselves for a new working environment. Therefore, the future of journalism in Pennsylvania relies on the preparedness of the experts in the field towards facing a new landscape that embraces technology.

The case study also reveals a 2011 study released by The New York Times that unearthed a significant decrease in the circulation of different papers across the United States (US).13 The trend worries the stakeholders in the industry since more companies are expected to reduce the circulation of their newspapers, owing to the embracement of digital broadcasting of news. Therefore, the decline of the newspapers is a clear indication that journalists need to turn the technology factor to their favor and engineer a rebirth of their profession. In this case, it is important for journalists to be creative in their line of work to embrace technology to function in their favor.14 As such, Kaplan seeks to prove that social media provides various avenues through which journalists can employ creatively to foster their sustainability in the industry without newspapers.

The need to embrace technology to secure the future of journalism is denoted by the extent to which the same advancements have led to job losses that worry professionals in the sector. Between 2007 and 2008, at least 20,000 journalists lost their jobs due to the declining demand for newspapers. The alarming cases of job losses induced by the popularity of the Internet as a source of information that can facilitate the making of news calls for experts in the sector to devise new approaches to executing their tasks. As such, for the sake of securing their jobs, journalists need to change their roles and embrace ones that integrate technology.

A poll conducted by Gallup revealed that Americans have decreased trust in the media. Thus, its popularity is declining. Particularly, Kaplan indicates that 32% of Americans have trust in the traditional media, including newspapers.15 In this regard, there is a need for journalists to value the authenticity and validity of news to win the trust of the audiences. For this reason, the accuracy provided by technology is one of the factors that experts in the area can consider for the essence of winning the trust of the audiences. As such, the case study demonstrates journalists’ need for using information platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to extract the underlying facts about an event that is worth being classified as news. According to Hermida, interacting with the audiences through the various platforms offered by social media is one of the ways of building the much-needed trust between the media houses and the public.16

Kaplan acknowledges the changes in the journalism sector as denoted by the declining interest in reading news among Americans.17 Therefore, the need for journalists to change holds water to a considerable degree. Importantly, one of the ways of changing with the current situation necessitates media agents to incorporate technology change, thus fostering their sustainability in the dynamic industry. Finding new mediums such as social networking sites provides journalists and news organizations with opportunities to tell their stories in a way that appeals to the audiences since the audience spends a lot of time on social media.

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Kaplan pinpoints the use of platforms such as Snapchat as integral in fostering the instructiveness of the news broadcasting process. As such, news organizations including CNN, ESPN, the Wall Street Journal, and Buzzfeed integrate Snapchat to present news to their audiences, thus encouraging them to interact besides enjoying the visual aspect of their news. The move has made the media organizations remain relevant since most people spend most of their time on such platforms. Further, social media offers audiences with preferences to choose from a variety of news articles that interest them the most.

Additionally, Kaplan explains that all media houses have a Twitter handle that facilitates the broadcasting of breaking news.18 The timeliness of the Twitter posts makes the news cycle maintain its constancy, thus securing the trust of the audiences.19 Since social media encourages people to read and engage while facilitating the realization of the goal of media houses, it qualifies as an integral tool that can boost the sustainability of the journalism sector. Moreover, the inevitability of journalists to think outside the box is crucial for securing the future of journalism amid the declining boom of newspapers. One particular result of thinking outside the box involves employing technology to enhance the delivery of information to the audiences. In this light, the case study confirms the need for experts in the journalism sector to embrace creativity coupled with technology to bolster their sustainability in the journalism industry.20

Evaluation of the Generalizability of the Case Study

The case study is generalizable since it shows clearly that the embracement of technology in the journalism industry is inevitable across the world, not just in Pennsylvania. Particularly, the social media industry can be useful in salvaging the journalism industry from declining as denoted by the downfall of magazines. The accessibility of the various social media phones through digital devices such as smartphones and personal computers makes it easy to gather and/or disseminate news from everywhere around the globe. On the brighter side, journalists can view it as a plus that facilitates the efficient delivery of news since most people can access the Internet without problems. Currently, almost the entire population in the US has a smartphone that can access various social media platforms. Thus, according to Van der Haak, being present in such platforms is necessary for securing their future in the industry.21

However, some regions still lag behind regarding the accessibility to the Internet, a situation that undermines the reachability of news articles to some target audiences. For instance, in some developing countries, only a few people have access to the Internet. Therefore, the shortcoming implies a gap that needs to be filled in facilitating the delivery of information to audiences with diverse backgrounds. In this regard, the case generalizes the accessibility of the Internet in the globe. However, it is crucial to highlight that some audiences may lack full embracement of the different social media platforms. Thus, journalists in areas that have poor technological advancements could experience the dark side of the digital journalism environment.

The case is also not an isolated example of the importance of embracing technology creatively to facilitate the development of journalism since it demonstrates how the social media around the globe provides journalists with a new information landscape. The various social media sites offer journalists with information about trending issues that require formal reporting as news. As such, the new landscape of information enables journalists to obtain information from key sources on the ground, irrespective of the geographical location. For this reason, the new dimension of information source offers news organizations with a completely new level of tapping information for effective news production. In this case, technology also influences the engagement of audiences, thereby building their trust towards the news organizations.

Nonetheless, the case study is limited since it fails to consider the possibility of the new information landscape facilitating the acquisition of invalid information regarding a particular issue. Undoubtedly, it is important for a journalist to collect credible information from a source before processing it for news broadcasting. Since it is important to win the trust of news organizations, as well as journalists, professionals in the industry need to ensure that information collected through mediums such as Twitter, Snapchat, and Facebook is authentic and correct.22 By so doing, stakeholders would be protecting their industry from the negative influences of technology on the practice of journalism. Technology also facilitates the maintenance of the news cycle by keeping it constant as denoted by the use of podia such as Twitter to deliver breaking news. Nonetheless, there is the need to enhance the collection of credible data from the social media sources to foster the validity and reliability of news presented to the audience. Therefore, the need to alter the roles of journalists to be consistent with the technological trends is crucial for bolstering the sustainability of the journalism sector amid the decline of the newspapers sub-sector.

The job losses reported in the newspapers aspect of journalism demonstrate that it is time for journalists to change their roles in line with the changes brought about by technology. Notably, the mid-2000s saw a significant layoff of employees working at newspapers companies, thereby denoting the adversity of the Internet and cable television. Thus, to protect journalism from death, it is important for news correspondents to embrace new roles that integrate technology to foster the sustainability of their reporting career. In this case, newspaper companies can change with the current trends. For instance, they can start publishing their articles online through their social media handles, thus creating more opportunities for the advancement of their careers.

However, the case does not show whether the technological changes can facilitate the creation of adequate employment opportunities for qualified journalists. Importantly, the Internet would be more useful in facilitating the sustainability of the journalism profession if it can influence the creation of endless job opportunities to the current and prospective journalists.23 Currently, almost every media house has a social media department that manages the acquisition and distribution of information to various audiences. The employment opportunities created in such departments is a demonstration that technology in the journalism sector can facilitate the creation of jobs.

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Overall, the case is a clear depiction of the way the Internet and cable television has changed the face of journalism after the death of newspapers, thereby triggering journalists to become creative for their survival in the rapidly changing industry. Undoubtedly, social media provides Internet opportunities that require media agents’ creativity to seize and advance their professionalism in line with the current developments.24 However, the case is somehow limited in some aspects as discussed. Thus, there is the need for further inquiries regarding issues such as the authenticity of information obtained via the social media.

Conclusion

Despite the death of the newspaper, the future of journalism will be reinforced through the integration of technological. As noted, various media houses closed due to the declining circulation of their print newspapers, a situation that resulted in the downsizing of employees who were working for news organizations. Nonetheless, such issues called stakeholders in the sector need to embrace creativity that is integrated with technology to seize the broad opportunities provided by social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook. The easy accessibility of news sources provided by the social media networks makes journalism obtain trust from the audiences because of the continued engagement. Hence, as highlighted in the case study, the future of journalism is bound to be bright, thanks to technological advancements that have made it easy for media agents to gather and disseminate news from a wide geographical location.

Bibliography

Anderson, Christopher. Rebuilding the News: Metropolitan Journalism in the Digital Age. Philadelphia: Temple University, 2013.

Hermida, Alfred, Fred Fletcher, Darryl Korell, and Donna Logan. “Share, Like, Recommend: Decoding the Social Media News Consumer.” Journalism Studies 13, no. 5 (2012): 815-824.

Hermida, Alfred. “Tweets and Truth: Journalism as a Discipline of Collaborative Verification.” Journalism Practice 6, no.5 (2012): 659-668.

Kaplan, Sophie. “Newspapers are Dying, but the Future of Journalism isn’t Grim.” MEDIAFILE. 2016. Web.

Pavlik, John. “Innovation and the Future of Journalism.” Digital journalism 1, no. 2 (2013): 181-193.

Van der Haak, Bregtje, Michael Parks, and Manuel Castells. “The Future of Journalism: Networked Journalism.” International Journal of Communication 6, no. 16 (2012): 2923-2938.

Footnotes

  1. Christopher Anderson, Rebuilding the News: Metropolitan Journalism in the Digital Age (Philadelphia: Temple University, 2013), 32.
  2. Sophie Kaplan, “Newspapers are Dying, but the Future of Journalism isn’t Grim”, MEDIAFILE, Web.
  3. John Pavlik, “Innovation and the Future of Journalism,” Digital journalism 1, no. 2 (2013): 187.
  4. Anderson, 54.
  5. Alfred Hermida et al., “Share, Like, Recommend: Decoding the Social Media News Consumer,” Journalism Studies 13, no. 5 (2012): 818.
  6. Pavlik, 184.
  7. Anderson, 69.
  8. Hermida et al., 819.
  9. Bregtje Van der Haak, Michael Parks, and Manuel Castells, “The Future of Journalism: Networked Journalism,” International Journal of Communication 6, no. 16 (2012): 2931.
  10. Kaplan, par.1.
  11. Ibid, par.4.
  12. Ibid, par. 5.
  13. Ibid, par.6.
  14. Pavlik, 182.
  15. Kaplan, par.8.
  16. Alfred Hermida, “Tweets and Truth: Journalism as a Discipline of Collaborative Verification,” Journalism Practice 6, no.5 (2012): 660.
  17. Kaplan, par. 11.
  18. Ibid, par. 13.
  19. Hermida, 661.
  20. Pavlik, 182.
  21. Van der Haak, Parks, and Castells, 2333.
  22. Hermida, 662.
  23. Anderson, 96.
  24. Pavlik, 189.
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