The Rise, Fall, and Transformation of Traditional Journalism

Published on June 3, 2021

Change is inevitable in every profession. And for journalism, that change is pretty rapid. With the swift rise in social media sites and technology as a whole, the nature of the industry has been remarkably transformed. 

As technology keeps pushing ahead, so does the evolution of the industry. However, this change does come with pros and cons. 

The Switch From Traditional Journalism

Corporate journalism has indeed taken a huge turn from what it used to be, to what it currently is— all thanks to social media, the internet, and technology at large. 

In today’s digital age, most people have turned to their computers and web devices as the primary way to obtain, and even disseminate news from all over the world. This has led to a huge downturn in the sales of newspapers —hereby making print journalism gradually cast aside. 

Although, Canadian-born journalist and serial-entrepreneur — Michael Peres, says it’s not surprising that people turn to social media. “For the longest time, the tools required to broadcast information were exclusive, giving specific entities control over the general narrative. However, with the evolution of social media, this monopoly over information has been shattered creating a more competitive space for truth”, he says.

Michael Peres, founder of Israel Now News and Peres Daily.

Journalism and the Evolution of Media 

The effect of social media on journalism is astutely seen in the way news is gathered and distributed to the public. Also, journalism now has a level of engagement to it. And gradually, journalism is becoming normalized with social media, as some journalists now use social media platforms to publish their work. 

Broadcast media has taken a turn from conventional television, radio, newspapers, and magazines, to more social media platforms.

The list of social media platforms seems to be inexhaustible as technology keeps advancing rapidly. Such that, some news industries may find it hard to keep up. With traditional journalism, news organizations only had to churn out information, and the audience would consume it by reading or looking at it. But today, the audience can choose the kind of news they read, where, and even how they read it.

An example is seen in the way YouTube is setting a pacesetter.

YouTube — A New Kind of Visual Journalism

Youtube, a very influential media platform, is starting to gain more ground than TV and Radio stations. A sort of symbiotic relationship has indeed emerged between news organizations and their audience— by creating a medium for information, engagement, and dialogue. 

“YouTube is a prime example of a medium that allows independent entities and individuals with little funding to pose a strong competitive threat to the giants who currently dominate the market”— says Mikey Peres, the founder of Israel Now News and Peres Daily

The YouTube platform has over a billion users worldwide, which is a demographic that is more than any radio, television, or newspaper organization could ever think of. Hence, some news organizations have decided to adopt this medium as a channel of information.

An example is Kyle Kulinski’s news channel— Secular Talk.

Although, a factor that often comes to play here is the issue of attribution. Some news organizations post news content that was initially captured by eyewitnesses, without giving proper attribution to them.

The Shortcomings of Today’s Journalism

Today, news organizations are diving into the world of social media, and making use of its potential to gather and distribute news, and also to engage the audience at large. Journalistic content is created and used via different platforms, with the internet playing a huge role amidst it all. However, this shift does come with several pitfalls.

‘Opinionated’ content instead of journalistic content

The domination of several social media platforms has allowed for any kind of content to be put out there. Most times, news reporting is not as objective as it should be, but highly subjective. This nullifies ideal journalism, which is meant to be truthful and void of any kind of bias. 

Since anyone can be a reporter these days, news content hardly goes through the scrutiny it ought to before publication. Oftentimes, blog posts are opinion-oriented rather than being ‘news coverage oriented. Not many bloggers or news organizations want to perform the meticulous and detailed work that true investigative journalism requires.

In Peres’ words “with the growing political polarization, we’re beginning to see an erosion of journalistic principles. Facts are no longer used as a tool to arrive at truth but rather as a weapon to legitimize one’s agenda.” 

Monetization and over-advertisement of news

From print media to digital media— surely, there must be a way for news sites to monetize their content. This is done in two ways; through subscriptions or advertisements. 

Regarding the latter, news organizations are paid by third-party sites through the advertisement of their products or services. 

Sadly, traditional news reporting has been replaced by over-sensationalized coverage and clickbait —  which is seen in the act of enticing or cajoling the audience to ‘click’ ads in form of stories or even news. Bloggers are usually seen focusing on content that interests their pockets, rather than what’s important to the public. News has become a full-time business today.

Peres advises that news should not be treated as a product. “It should be the airing of important information everyone needs to know. Yet, what people get is not that. Most news is gyrated towards a political agenda and is often sugar-coated to protect the interests of advertisers” — he further points out.

Increased pressure and fixation on competitors

Without a doubt, the competition online is an infinite one. There are thousands of news sites and companies emerging by the minute, thereby making journalism a competitive playground. This has largely affected the way journalism is done today, as the priority of some news companies is to beat their competitors, and not provide real value in the process.

If news sites gather a story through social media, or they find a new angle that isn’t yet known to the public, they risk having that angle reported on first by their competitors, or even by their audience at large. 

Whereas in the past, a newspaper only competed with other publications in the same region. The case is not the same these days, it’s more like a global competition.

This pressure to outrank competitors doesn’t allow proper time to be taken in processing news content. The rush for ‘breaking news’ is affecting the quality of reporting. News sites only want to beat their competitors and be the first to report a news event. This often leads to the dissemination of wrong and superficial information, as a result of incompetent fact-checking.

Finding a balance 

There’s no denying it, journalism has evolved from what it used to be, to what it currently is today. There is no escape from the transformation that has already happened. Hence, journalists have to embrace the change and redefine their profession.

With the decline in readership, former newspaper industries have had no choice but to go online. By strategizing and reshaping their content to suit the demands of journalism today, they’ve been able to build relevance in the industry.

Contrary to popular opinion, social media hasn’t replaced journalism. Journalism is only still finding a way to adopt social media. In a way, social media is even a form of journalism, as it allows people to report the news. Social media enhances journalism, through interaction and communication with the audience, and other numerous ways. 

And just like Michael Peres says; social media shouldn’t create any threat for journalists if used properly. It ought to accentuate it.

Final Thoughts

To date, the journalism field is constantly changing. There was a time radio and television threatened print journalism, but eventually, there was a balance and the two co-existed. It’s still the same for digital media, as this fusion will eventually lead to refurbished journalism.

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