The Future of News?

We’re fortunate enough to be living through a revolution in the way news is presented and delivered. While the disruption can be disconcerting, it’s also exciting — an opportunity for you to participate in the reinvention of this industry. As we head into the end of the academic term, it’s worthwhile to once again ponder the answer to this critical question: what is the future of news? What’s the direction of this industry? It will undoubtedly include the exploding social media element, as indicated in this video. What will sustain news organizations? The future of paywalls is debated in this piece. And speaking of financial sustainability, are we heading for a situation where only the rich can afford to be journalists? Check out this article, posted by Cassie in last week’s class. And what will the future bring to coverage of environmental issues, when even The New York Times, in the course of this semester, dismantled its environmental beat and its environmental blog, as discussed by The Times Public Editor in this piece?

This piece explains how newspapers could affect a drop in civic participation. Do you agree?  In the midst of all this, it makes sense to peruse examples of strong reporting looks like. Based on these discussions, let’s hear your questions on the issues that are raised and the way the authors present them.

          Here’s some more information about the people who will be judging the University of Michigan semi-annual News Entrepreneurs’ Pitchfest on Wednesday. Paula Gardner is the editorial director of Doug Neal is the executive director of the UM College of Engineering’s Center for Entrepreneurship. Vince Kern is senior director of technology/innovation at the Detroit Media Partnership, the business arm of the Detroit Free Press and the Detroit News.          The pitchfest will be held from 9:10 a.m. to noon in North Quad’s Space 2435 on the University of Michigan’s central campus. It is open to the public. 

          Networking is a key to success in any career. So don’t forget to stay in touch and let us know what you’re doing!



About jhalpert

Julie Halpert is a freelance journalist with more than two decades of experience writing for national publications, including The New York Times, Newsweek,, iVillage,, and AARP Bulletin. She currently contributes regularly to over 25 publications. She is also the co-author of Making Up With Mom ( and has recently started blogging for The Huffington Post. Her subjects have focused on everything from how auto makers will reinvent themselves following bankruptcy, to the viability of various environmentally-friendly technologies and how boomers will reinvent retirement. She also covers parenting and family issues for such magazines as Parents, Family Circle, MORE and Redbook. She has reported on the air for many public radio programs, including The Environment Report, Marketplace and Living on Earth. She also co-teaches an environmental journalism class in the University of Michigan's Program in the Environment and was a founder of The Society of Environmental Journalists.

5 Responses to “The Future of News?”

  1. I think that people like you are examples of the future of the news room. More and more people are turning to freelance journalism because the positions at news companies are dwindling. I don’t know how the new rooms will afford to continue their companies. The online paywall seems to cover about 50% of the fees necessary to run the paper. I think that in the future news rooms might close all together and just have online editors for the news paper to reduce the fixed cost of the buildings….how sad. However, everything is moving towards an online social media connection as opposed to the unperson “hitting the pavement” that our parents generation was used to. Personally I am sad to see it go. I honestly think that all news papers should have moved to a subscription only online version in order to bring in the full funds to run their paper.

  2. In order to be successful and sustainable, the news needs to find a niche that people need and can’t get from social media. I think that this may come from data journalism. With the exploding amounts of data and information, it is being increasingly difficult to integrate information from different sources, interpret statistics, and make good choices. However, now more than ever citizens and policy makers need to be able to make evidence based decisions. The news needs to go beyond the surface deep news reporting because that is easily done by people through social media, reporters won’t win that battle. The people need to understand issues in the context of society and politics and have access to unbiased statistics so they can develop opinions for themselves instead of having opinions shoved down their throats through biased reporting. This is going to take a paradigm shift and may require a slightly different skill set than what we think of journalism now. However, change is necessary and the sooner that the news commits to large scale changes, the better.

  3. The article Cassie posted almost brought me to tears with how much suffering the author had to go through in order to pursue what she loved. When I first told myself I wanted to be a journalist when I was 13, this was my biggest fear, that I wouldn’t be able to get “in” with the industry and be able to financially sustain myself. My parents also warned me not to major in journalism or even pursue a journalism career because of the declining print industry. Like the author writes, freelancing and external financial support were her saving grace. If others can’t get lucky like she did, then the industry has become one for the elite.
    On the flip side, the future of news will always be changing to adapt to preferences of the consumers of news. I use the term consumers instead of readers because video, photos and social media also contribute to reading news. For example, I found out about the tragic Boston marathon explosion today through my twitter feed.
    I still think that journalism has a place to cover stories being covered up by those who don’t want the public to know about it. That’s a definitive niche that can’t usually be done by an inexperienced reporter or 140 characters. People will always want to know what others don’t want them to.

  4. Originally I lamented the loss of beat reporting/having specific sections for issues such as the environment in the NYT. But Elisabeth Rosenthal, who was quoted in the NYT’s blog and who is a former member of the environmental “pod” of reporters (or a pod of dolphins?) made an interesting point. She mentioned a pro to dismantling the environmental section is that environmental news will be mainstreamed into the paper. I think this is one problem I have with the proliferation of niche news reporting non-profits like Circle Blue and its ilk. Generally speaking, the only people who are going to seek out that news are people who are already up on environmental/water issues (this applies to all of those reporting non-profits like the Center for Public Integrity and so on).
    Maybe mainstreaming environmental pieces or “women’s pieces” for another example (Slate/WashPo/Atlantic and so on all of “women’s sections that deal with sexism, abortion and so on,) will prevent a ghettoization of these subjects. There are upsides and downsides to there being so many news outlets. One major downside is that everyone can flock to their corner of the Internet, for conservatives, for progressives and so on. However, the major upside is that traditionally marginalized voices now are being amplified (think Ebony magazine being created due to the underrepresentation of black people in the mainstream, but, by thousands). As for a lack of civic participation, maybe the flipside to the Monitor article is that people who would generally not be plugged into politics or current events are bombarded with them on social media sites. However, I do agree the loss of robust, smaller newspapers are a devastating loss since national news doesn’t cover hyper local issues, and local government should be held accountable to its citizens. Maybe this is the cynical Political Science major part of me talking, but I think the Monitor takes an overly rosy view of the general population’s interest in civic participation at all. I do mourn the loss of more long form, investigative pieces that cost more money than blog-y pieces. But non-profits like ProPublica are filling that gap. Journalism is shifting, but I have faith that things will shake out. A lot of people get their news from blogs that aggregate news and write summaries of reporting done by newspapers. I’d love to see all of the major newspapers halt the presses for a day. Then people will see that without the legwork of reporters there won’t be any news and no news to comment on.

  5. jacquelinegamache Reply April 17, 2013 at 11:22 pm

    I think that Kaitlyn makes an excellent point and highlights what is really missing in these articles: a discussion about how news can offer something social media cannot. Local news specifically used to be the only way we could witness personal accounts. Now blogs, twitter, facebook, etc. have put us in touch faster and on a broader scale with these stories. Innovation in news will require to aggregate these thoughts and deliver a central message. Simply delivering the newspaper into a new format and tacking on a price tag is not the answer. The news industry needs to pride themselves on always being accurate and unbiased. Something that social media could never compete with.

    The article Cassie posted has an excellent lede and kicker. The author brings up an issue not just affecting the news industry. With the struggling economy, many internships have become unpaid and with a slower promotion rate the likelihood of a securing a full time position is lower. With student loans at an all time high, many will be forced to make career decisions based on finances. Our generation is often labeled entitled because we expect to graduate and make a substantial living without doing the drudge work. Yet, our elders grew up in the largest economic expansion of the middle class and had about a tenth of the college debt to worry about.

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