The Highs and Lows of Digital Journalism

A new age of journalism is upon us.  Some call it “golden,” others not.  But no one can deny that we are witnessing the birth of new journalism–digital journalism.  The changes in journalism offer different pros and cons.  Print revenues are in massive decline and newspapers all over the world are folding.  Even The Onion had to call it quits on their print version.  Despite revenues taking a nosedive, many newspapers audiences are bigger than ever before.  Not only bigger, but broader, more international.  They have a larger scope in readership.

One of the biggest downsides though, and one that has been becoming increasingly more clear, is that hard news is also taking a hit.  The facts.  Despite being constantly connected, some argue that audiences are learning less in the modern world of news.  And I would have to agree, to a degree.  People read enough just get the context of a situation; sometimes a headline is enough.  Last semester I did a project on news consumption, and the majority of college-aged people I surveyed got their news from social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter.  This means they know about things faster–they can be better informed in that sense–but they only know 160 characters about a situation (Hiltzik, 2014).

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This problem doesn’t fall solely on the readers.  News organizations are putting out fewer facts as well.  More and more these days, news sites are cranking out commentaries or opinion posts–not the stories themselves.  Because hard-hitting journalism requires something most journalists are no longer getting: money.  And so they turn to the easier things to produce, like editorials and blog posts (Packer 2014).

It seems that today we are consuming more news but know less about it.  I can recite headlines from news sites but couldn’t tell you what the body paragraph said.  I often know general statements, but sometimes not the particulars.  And I think the same can be said for a lot of us.  So is that better or worse?  I’m not trying to pin the lack of specific news information on shorter attention spans or laziness.  Rather, in the digital age it seems like we all have the same amount of information in our heads, it’s just more fragmented.  It’s split between so many different news stories, because we have unprecedented levels of access as a result of globalization (Hiltzik, 2014).

We need to find a way to combine old and new journalism and reach new levels of news consumption.  When we figure out a way to achieve that, we will truly enter the golden age of journalism we’ve been hoping for.

References:

Hiltzik, M. (2014, FEBUA 2). Supply of news is dwindling amid the digital media transformation.Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-hiltzik-20140202,0,1097804.column

Packer, G. (2014, Janua 14). Telling stories about the future of journalism The New Yorker, Retrieved from http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/comment/2014/01/telling-stories-about-the-future-of-journalism.html

2 thoughts on “The Highs and Lows of Digital Journalism

  1. I think it’s dangerous to only get news from sources like Facebook and Twitter because most people one follow or interact with people they know personally and news stories that they may post may not be credible or explain the whole story. It’s also become so important to be the first to publish on a story that many mistakes are made on the facts and people become very misinformed.

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  2. I totally and completely agree. The headline of “Breaking News” is used more to grab attention and drive traffic on the site, but rarely, if ever, do readers search to know more. We’re currently living in a society where we’d rather be informed than knowledgeable.

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