Sunday, July 19, 2009

future of journalism...

As the old song says, “Video Killed The Radio Star,” and the Internet is killing journalists, or at least news organizations like newspapers and television news shows that no longer provide the same value to their customers.

Journalists are seeing their career paths die right before their eyes. There are even websites like Newspaper Death Watch and a Google Maps project that tracks job layoffs at newspapers across the United States.

Journalism is Dead

How Did Journalism Get Here?

Journalism started dying when people stopped looking to newspapers and television for news. It is as simple as that.

The Internet has slowly, but surely taken over the role of “see it here first” journalism. Even 24-hour news stations like CNN, MSNBC and FOX News do not have the ability to show news as it happens anywhere in the world. The Internet does.

There have been an increasing number of events chronicled on the Internet first. The Virginia Tech shootings, and the 2004 Indonesia Tsunami, to name a few were all shown online before television. Printed newspapers don’t even have a chance.
Journalism has Committed Murder-Suicide.

Major news organizations seem to follow, not lead when it comes to both breaking news and investigative journalism. So it is no wonder that both casual and serious news consumers are fleeing to online sources.

Advertisers Are No Longer Willing To Waste Money On A Mass Produced Product.

The technology revolution has allowed marketers to target advertising by gathering information about potential customers and then matching a product to the customer’s needs or desires. Newspapers and television can’t do that.

Journalism organizations have been slow to realize that the medium is not the message. Newspapers are not journalism. Newspapers are a product that brought news to people before they could find it any time they wanted it. Newspapers are a general mass-market product in a targeted niche market era. And television news is basically in the same condition as newspapers.

Is This The End of Journalism?

This is the end of journalism, as most people alive have known it. It is not the end of journalism.

Journalism is changing to meet both the demands of a changing world, but also to meet the changes in technology that are allowing anyone with a cell phone or a laptop to create journalism. Journalists used to need a massive organization behind them to produce news stories, photos or video. But inexpensive technology has changed that.

First person accounts within moments of an event are becoming invaluable pieces of journalism. Photos and videos, usually taken by cell phone, of events as they occur are only possible if the community participates in journalism. Professional journalists must change their thinking to see the value in this kind of journalism.

Journalism Is Not Dead, But Professional Journalists Face A Different Future.

Professional journalists are people who can write well, edit, shoot photos or video; they will always be needed. A few national and international news organizations will continue to exist in order to cover national and international governments and business.

Local and regional news organizations will need to scale back and cover their niche, local or regional news and sports. There are many openings and opportunities at the local level. Many smaller communities are not served or underserved by the mass media. Well-organized and lean local news organizations could do a great job covering these communities online and with a weekly or monthly print product provided free to the community.

The biggest problem is that too many of today’s journalists see working at a local newspaper as an unfulfilling career path. And too many journalists today see online news as a threat to “real journalism,” and have little or no ability to create online news content on their own.

The Internet is not killing journalism; it is just killing an old model of providing news to people who want information. The new model is as different as printing on a printing press was to hand copying books. Journalism is transforming into something more interactive, where the consumer is also a producer. That is not a bad thing, but it will cause a lot of stress and disruption as the older model fails and the newer model finds ways to succeed.

Read more: Journalism is Dead

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