Is the news media dying? I’ve been asked that question in two of my most recent media training workshops and I can’t blame the trainee for asking for asking the question. On the surface, it sure doesn’t look good. Shrinking budgets and ad revenue, abysmal ratings at a fraction of what they were before the internet took over, and increasingly younger and cheaper on-air talent doesn’t leave a news consumer with much hope.
But, despite all the bad signs, there are some positive signs too. News outlets are finding themselves more comfortable in social media circles, where today news anchors are posting what appears to be op-ed “take a side” style stories and asking for feedback (please oh please let it go viral!). Good or bad, these posts appear to be getting traction. Facebook also now allows for live video streaming and news outlets are taking advantage of that too, appearing in news feeds with behind the scenes tours and other topics you don’t typically see in a traditional newscast.
Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and Periscope are also seeing plenty of news activity from news organizations including radio, TV, newspapers, and online sites. “Adapt or die” seems to be the broad news management message and the presence of news organizations on social media continues to grow.
So, is the news media dying? No, I don’t think so. It’s just morphing into something different and on appearing on different platforms. The public still wants to be informed; that message will now just be found in different places. For those in the news spotlight, the need has never been greater to be able to tell a good story in a form the media, and social media, can consume.The ability to speak in quotes or sound bites has also never been more important. So many news choice, so many places, so many posts, you better be on message and on your game or you are gone.
When it comes to “big J” journalism, Hollywood is helping the cause. The portrayal of real journalism in the movie “Spotlight” and the role reporters played in exposing the abuses within the catholic church can only help spread the message that journalism is an important part of society, whether consumed on TV or online. What we are seeing now is a lot like what a young teenager faces, an awkward transition to the next phase.