The Internet Is Being Used As It’s Supposed To–So Why Are News Organizations Scrambling?

Disclaimer: I’ve been writing for my Online Journalism class here. This is a homework assignment I just finished and felt like sharing. You can read all of my entries on this blog here. For what it’s worth, take a look at two of my friends pages on that site as well

Dave Berliner
Joseph Adinolfi  

 

Wu Lyf – Spitting Blood

News organizations haven’t fared well since the popularization of the internet. It goes without saying that thanks to social media the spread of news has never been at such a rapid pace. This rapid spread of news is now packaged for free and at the convenience of the consumer. It has never been a better time to be a consumer. Ever. Whether you’re fishing for news, music, movies, whatever. A few clicks and you’re there. It’s free. What more can you ask for?

On the other end, it’s probably never been a worse time to own or invest in one of these organizations. Why? Because the internet is free and until this changes you have to find a way to profit. Old media is dead. Newspapers are laying off employers, radio companies are being consolidated by bigger organizations and social media continues to thrive.

As a consumer, I can follow someone on social media to provide me with news that I’m interested in. I can go on a newspaper’s website and read the same articles with photos, videos and articles to related links. I can listen to my favorite radio station on my iPhone, or download my own music and listen to the stuff I want to listen to on demand. I can get the three minutes of information I’m interested in from the 6 o’ clock news on demand and before they report it minus the filler of commercials and other stories I’m not interested in. As Eric Lundquist said in myprevious entry, the digital world allows the consumer to decide what they want to read and when. Not the other way around.

In the digital world its about convenience something the traditional journalist can’t offer. Scratch that. The traditional journalist can offer it, just not all the time. Social media, web based blogs and internet sites have turned former consumers into producers. Anyone can be a journalist. They write editorials about their opinions on topics, much like traditional journalists do. They tweet blurbs and break stories before its in tomorrows paper or on broadcast news. They spread information that you’re interested in because you decided to follow them. You decided to click on them.

This isn’t a bad thing though. Why? Because journalists that work for major or minor organizations can do the same thing. People follow writers on Tumblr and Twitter. People keep in touch with blogs written by Washington Post and New York Times writers. These writers are still relevant, even if the implications are that they’re outdated. Producers haven’t stopped becoming producers, they’ve just received more competition that may in fact not even be competition.

Social media is a supplement to traditional media. Traditional media can still survive provided it has its own niche’ in the areas of providing news. It can still provide information that others can’t. It still (hopefully) holds itself to a higher ethical standard than a random blogger or tweeter that you so happen to subscribe to. Many times, readers will hear something from social media and confirm it on a more traditional news source. Why not? These people are getting paid to report the news accurately. If they lie, they face repercussions. If guy in his basement lies about George Clooney‘s death in May, he gets nothing but a few hours of hits to his website on top of losing credibility.

In this sense, there will always be room for the traditional journalist. Probably even more so than any other medium that produces and sells information. Traditional and social media can co-exist its just a matter of traditional media staying profitable. Twitter and Facebook aren’t quite competing against one another and thus many people have both. In the same sense, traditional and social media have found a similar marriage. People use both and one can’t necessarily survive without the other.

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About realmikeclark

23-year old Journalism & Psychology graduate of the University of Connecticut.
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