The Evolution of the Newspaper

It is no secret that modern technology and access to media has resulted in a changing landscape for traditional newspapers. However, while some media chooses to cover and perpetuate the doomsday be-all-end-all future of news, others have taken a different route.

It is true that stories such as Simon Dumenco’s “Why Facebook is Becoming the Media World’s Black Hole” (here) must exist to document the struggles of news media. Dumenco details how social media sites have become looming barriers to the world of news. He sites the increasing amount of time individual’s spend on social media sites, specifically Facebook, as the basis for an overall decrease in exploration of other media sources. It is an interesting take that explores how our increased reliance on social media can be pernicious to our media consumption. I would be interested to see real data showing that social media is harmful to other media outlets as they appear to have separate functions for individuals. However these articles are important in offering an explanation behind the dramatic change in news and should serve as a foundation for making complex changes to media.

When it comes to writing on the future of news, the articles and advice are plentiful. Take for instance Reuter’s recent 2013 article “Journalism of the Future Should be less Concerned with the Present” (here). John Lloyd argues that in recent years news has focused on trending topics involving scandal and controversy rather than covering issues that are emerging now and will play major roles in the future. His argument is that news should be pushing its way into the new frontier with topics that will reveal more about the future than the present.

At the same time, in a publication titled “Michigan’s Morphing Media” the demise of Ann Arbor News followed by the subsequent rise of AnnArbor.com (an online version of the once popular print publication) shows that while topics of the future are certainly important to cover, the community component of news is also essential to its survival. AnnArbor.com has largely been successful because of its investment in hyperlocal material using content creators, bloggers, and social media sites to formulate its “community hub” atmosphere. One of the online publication’s goals is to ensure that readers have a personal investment to the work by granting them opportunities to contribute and partake in partial ownership. This is an interesting solution to a problem that many publications are facing. While some news outlets have turned to implementing paywallls (which has been proven ineffective in this article published under the Columbia Journalism Review) to rope in an online readership base and still turn profit, perhaps co-creating content is the better solution.

While many opinions exist surrounding the future of news one thing is for certain: the previous rigid models of traditional journalism must change if those publications hope to exist in the future.

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9 Responses to “The Evolution of the Newspaper”

  1. Going off of what Katie has brought up, I am specifically interested in how often people use social media sites such as Facebook to get their news information first. It seems that we tend to hear news and devastating events immediately on Facebook or Twitter intermixed with our friends cute family photos and status updates. Social media has become an important tool to spread the word in emergencies, as well as allowing news stations to post their articles on it.

    For example, I remember the Boston Marathon bombings in 2011; I was sitting on my couch and my friend came out of the bathroom to report what had happened. When I heard it was from Facebook, my immediately questioned what new source posted it. Was it is reliable? Next was to check the “real” news sources.

  2. I am also interested in the effect of social media on news consumption, and I found this article on the topic: http://www.journalism.org/2014/03/26/8-key-takeaways-about-social-media-and-news/

    Among the key takeaways about social media and news are that half of Facebook and Twitter users get some news from those sites (whether they are searching for it or not) and that social media do drive more readers to individual articles than direct visits to a news site. Although the social media readers may be less engaged than direct visitors, I think “being on Facebook” is definitely a way for a news outlet to increase its audience.

    In addition, social media seem to be catering more and more to users who are looking for news. I think of the “Trending” sidebar on Facebook, a feature added earlier this year. It leads users to articles on a variety of topics from a variety of sources, with just one click. Importantly, the sidebar shows topics that are trending nationally and globally, not just within one’s network of friends. Although it was not social media’s original intention, I would argue that the genre has evolved to widen the audience for news and to drive readers to it.

  3. Personally, social media these days has been keeping me updated on popular/controversial topics to the point where I don’t really need to go to a news source unless I want more depth and detail on a particular story.

    Things like trending topics or tweets that basically highlight the main points kind of deter me from finding an article or newspaper to read more about it, unless it is something that interests me greatly.

    I remember that when I was a child, watching the evening news on the TV with my family was something we did everyday. People were also reading newspapers frequently. Nowadays, I become aware of world events through social media. I think the reason why social media is so successful at delivering news is that people go on there frequently when they’re not busy at the moment and just stumble across things. It’s actually a great way to spread awareness of global issues, in my opinion.

    But I do also believe that this undermines news reporters, as things I read about the world via social media just don’t feel as “authentic.” The news over the past few years has been easily accessible, however, through social media, albeit the fact that the users won’t always pursue the topic further.

  4. I’m not sure if I completely agree that journalism should be more concerned with the future than the present. The trend is that more people are moving away from news media to social media. It’s understandable that John Lloyd sees an open niche to occupy in the sphere of journalism as social media provides news on current events, but there are reasons why this trend is happening that may suggest that this niche may not even exist. Like others have said, social media allows people to quickly access updates going on in circles that matter to them. It can also be argued this trend may be due to a fear of the future. Most articles that highlight current and future trends usually talk about negative topics, like global warming, or how our current food system is unsustainable and we’re going to run out of food/starve in year XXXX. These kinds of topics overwhelm/frighten people, and they would probably rather choose to ignore “hypothetical” statistics than face the realities of such possibilities. Due to these two reasons, easy access to significant, current events and fear of the future, the solution isn’t to simply talk more about the future in journalism.

  5. I am honestly just tired of media presenting the new media as harmful. There are definitely negative things about the new medias, like “too much” time on Facebook, or the fact that the old sources of media are becoming increasingly irrelevant to our society, but there are so many advantages to these new medias that I rarely see covered. If something happens, on the other side of the world, I can know about it within seconds, that isn’t true with newspaper media. We might be spending too much time on the Internet now, but we are probably a much more informed public than what we would have been in the past. I don’t have numbers to back this up, but neither does Simon Demunco’s article comparing social media to a black hole. I would love to see the media begin to portray social media and other digital technologies for what they are, which is life-changing, but also a more effective way for news to reach people.

  6. I think your post is good that it is very interesting. Toward the social media,such as facebook, twitter, weibo(chinese one), these are all good path for people communicates and transmit news or information to each other. This seems a positive effect that people could get news and information at any place, at any time. However, this really let people not read general newspapers, or news channel on TV and listen to any broadcast, especially for the population of teenager and college students. For this population, they are more likely to use new social medium tools rather old, boring newspapers. Sometimes, people could only press the”share” key ,which will share anything you like to your friends. Then, your friends will share again to more population. However, this behavior is still not common among the older population, such as parents. They still use general newspaper for news more often. So, social media really construct barrier for those news information ways. However, this still be determined by different period of people. For example, in my family, my father still prefer the newspapers and TV channel for getting news. For me, I prefer the facebook and weibo to get news. Sometimes, I got a news from weibo or facebook, rather from newspapers. Additionally, I think one of the most negative effect from social media is social media tools make people has no secret. For example, there is secret for information of friends. Any person will know who is your friend, and your friends’ information. Also, in china, some media company catch some photo of popular stars.Then, this photo will spread in the social media tools. People lost their privacy in some way.

  7. I too am a bit wary of the sometimes sensationalized view of the changing face of the news, and don’t see the negatives quite as clearly as many of this week’s articles. This may be my personal and generational view, however. When reading Simon Dumenco “Why Facebook is Becoming the Media World’s Black Hole” I understood his argument that if you spent too much time in one ‘place’ your world view will be limited, I thought the same argument could be made for traditional newspapers. To be overly concerned about social media seems like a very present way of seeing the problem. I see social media as something that is constantly growing and evolving, at a fairly fast pace. Sure, Facebook and Twitter seem all powerful today, but other platforms will inevitably emerge.

  8. Institutions carry a great amount of inertia. Journalism is no exception. Certain conventions and techniques tend to be perpetuated, and that’s how we establish a norm of journalistic style. Journalism evolves over time–the perception shift from “objectivity” to “fairness” as a principle, for example–but it doesn’t, and really can’t, evolve as quickly and organically as societal norms. Watching news on television isn’t as popular as it once was, especially in younger generations, according to a study from the Pew Research Center. We still get news, though. News and journalism will exist in some form or another. What may not exist are the mediums that we use. 8-tracks came and went too, right? Journalism might be stuck on a format right now, too, but it will find its cassette tape, its cd, its code–and keep on delivering information.

  9. Social media is inevitably a large part of the face of the future of media. It’s so easy to use, and accessible as well. Everyone is always in touch with it, with smartphones with apps for just about everything. I can agree with Dumenco in that a lot of my friends and people our age use Facebook as an outlet for everything. For socializing, communicating, keeping in touch, and definitely for sharing articles they find interesting. Even personally, I find a lot of fascinating articles off what my friends on Facebook have posted.I am divided in whether or not I agree with John Lloyd. I do agree that some of the stuff journalism may focus on does not have long term affects, rather it generates a lot of short term shallower interest that fades with time. I don’t, however, agree that journalism needs to only be on new frontier topics that affect the future. The present is important, it is what we are living in now. Not every story needs to be cutting edge and relevant in the long-term. Some stories need to be written simply because they are important at that moment.

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