traditional media, advertising, and the future of news innovation

Traditional news outlets are facing financial challenges on all sides.

The Superbowl is supposed to be the biggest showcase of the year for advertising of any kind in the US. But this year, the very expensive TV ads that bring huge revenue to whichever network is broadcasting the game were overshadowed by a Twitter ad for Oreo cookies that was slapped together during a power outage in the middle of the game. Meanwhile, other people started a vigorous and popular Twitter discussion about sexism in some of the traditional TV ads aired during the game.

Facebook is another challenge for traditional news outlets. Smart news companies and smart journalists are developing their social media brands, even as Adage, the premiere news outlet about the advertising industry, reports that it’s getting harder for news sites to compete with Facebook news feeds.

What is the difference between a Facebook news feed and news from a news site? What are the pluses and minuses of each kind of news? How do you think traditional news outlets can survive in the face of declining ad revenues?

Traditional news sites are hoping that paywalls may help increase their bottom lines, and there’s some reason for hope, according to this post from the nonprofit journalism think tank, The Poynter Institute. Here’s another perspective on paywalls from Columbia Journalism Review.

What do you think of paywalls? If all information is free, who will pay for professionals to produce information? Does society really need professional journalists in the age of crowd sourcing and aggregating?

Here’s a link to an 18-minute video by famous media analyst Jay Rosen, talking about how he tracks trends about the future of news. I think that my former Detroit Free Press colleague Dan Gillmor, now another famous media analyst, has one of the best analyses of the evolving news ecology here.

How do you see yourself fitting into the emerging news ecology, as Gillmor calls it?

The Detroit area is a hub of innovation and entrepreneurship, some of it related to information. This week, our University of Michigan journalism class will meet Matt Hemp, one of the founders of LocalData, a recent winner of a Knight News Challenge grant.

What do you want to ask him about the Knight application process and about his project? How does this kind of news innovation fit into the evolving traditional media landscape in Michigan?

John Lloyd of Reuters suggests that journalists could gain new audience by being less concerned with the present and more concerned with issues that will be important in the future. What do you think of his suggestion? Who would fund that kind of reporting?

Here’s a response to his opinions by Aubrey Parker, a recent graduate of the University of Michigan’s Environmental/Public Health Journalism class, who highlights a recent exchange on this blog. Thanks for the shout out, Aubrey! How would you continue the conversation with her?


About emiliaaskari

Journalist, teacher, news game designer. Promoting digital literacy and content creation in the public interest.

3 Responses to “traditional media, advertising, and the future of news innovation”

  1. I would like to respond to the first of the set of questions presented in this post. Although facebook does keep us updated on current events,those events are selective, and not well rounded. For instance, I see many news updates on feminism movements due to my concentration of friends in women’s studies than I do about local news, since most of my friends are not originally from Ann Arbor, and thus have less investment in the city going-ons. Therefore, I do not think that facebook newsfeeds are comparable to actually keeping up with news, because it’s always going to be reflective of your demographic of friends. As a result, you are likely to miss out on what’s going on.

    I understand that paying for journalism in the digital era is becoming more difficult, but I don’t think that facebook is even close to a replacement, and we’re becoming more and more complacent about internet ads. The paywall strategy is probably something that is not sustainable either. As Owens points out, we can find free versions of news easily. Why would we pay? There needs to be more answers, more business ideas, more incentive for people to invest in good news. I think that if we wait too long, we will lose access to good news, and then begin paying for it again. However, this isn’t a solution either because we can’t afford to have a news crash either.

    Perhaps this discussion should open up to more fields of thought and become more inclusive. We hear journalists and newsmakers talking about this all of the time, but many other people haven’t weighed in. If some sort of collaborative effort was created through policy makers, community members, academics, and all stakeholders in the outcome of this issue, maybe we will be able to come up with innovative answers to this conundrum.

  2. The journalist’s niche is inevitably shrinking and will likely soon be nonexistent, at least the way we think of it now. However, we live in a world of constant change and adaptation is a necessity. Along the lines of John Lloyd’s suggestion that journalists should focus on the future, I think that journalists must shift to occupy a more research heavy role. Everyone can report news, but not everyone can put it into a useful and relevant context. This is the only way information can be used to inform decisions, but the context is what we are losing. Right now we rely on a huge amount of shallow snippets of news and information. However, it takes research and time to piece these together into the whole story. I really like Lloyd’s comment that we need a vivid, comprehensible, and more democratic global conversation. This captures the real issue of how we live in an information infused society but most people still don’t truly understand the biggest issues we are currently facing.

  3. The methods in which we obtain news today are far more expansive than ever before, creating greater difficulty for news outlets to financially survive. In response to the first set of questions as well, Facebook connects you with individuals and groups that, for the most part, you already know or are interested in – it’s personal news versus a wide spectrum of news. However, the news feed may continue to evolve into a more global portal of information as groups and organizations push for increased ‘likes,’ which enable one to receive posts on their news feeds pertaining to that group. Facebook is a selective news channel, as it allows the individual to customize what information he or she receives. The selectivity of a news feed enables one to gain the most relevant information needed while connecting socially.

    On the other hand, traditional news outlets and sites are customized by catering to all interests and personalities through reporting on almost every category of issue (for example, CNN’s local, national, world, health, sports, entertainment, etc.). While most people go on Facebook everyday, it is a more concentrated effort for the general public to remember to go on a news site unless it’s a habit.

    In the face of declining ad revenues, traditional news outlets must continue to follow the interests of its readers. Where the readers are is where news sources must cater to. Resorting to paywalls will not encourage readers to subscribe. Personally, whenever I come across a paywall, I simply look to another news source for a similar article on the same subject. While I do not have a viable solution to this growing issue, news sources will have to more pointedly twist the issue of the internet’s ability to provide access to an infinite number of sources to their advantage.

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