Natural Selection on News: Finding a Sustainable Model

There is a natural selection event going on and the old forum of news is bordering extinction. The advent of social media and increasing accessibility for individuals to post, blog, tweet, and interact with information has drastically changed. Journalism faces a tough task in trying to remain profitable while keeping the integrity of traditional news alive. Or is it already dead?

So often now we find it hard to define the line of what is journalism as sweeping changes have already been adopted by organizations like the New York Times. It was not so long ago that news meant newspaper and the majority of america had some tradition of tuning in. The selection of avenues in which individuals can obtain and interact with information has generated a drastically different environment than the one in which these very news organizations were founded. Is it possible for news to survive this selectional pressure?

This article sheds light on current forms of adaptation and brings up the need of news organizations to find a sustainable model. It begs the question, what is the recipe behind a sustainable news model in the current culture? What attributes about journalism and news will remain conserved as a new forum emerges? What will the career of a journalist look like? Will the newspaper eventually go extinct? Is a monopoly on news the answer? 

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About sallyplank

I am a Senior at the University of Michigan studying Neuroscience and Sustainability.

5 Responses to “Natural Selection on News: Finding a Sustainable Model”

  1. I believe that no matter what, news will survive, despite selectional pressure. I cannot imagine a future where news itself becomes extinct. The essence of news will always be the same: new and noteworthy information. However, what is considered new and what is considered noteworthy is changing dramatically due to how quickly news can be spread. A tweet can make millions of people aware of “news” in a matter of seconds, where with a traditional newspaper, it takes the time of writing, editing, and printing the tangible paper. I do believe that “traditional” news will survive, but journalists will have to create articles that are even more intensely researched and thought out, in order to compensate for the immediacy of social media news outlets.

  2. This article brought up several alternatives to traditional methods of news delivery. I was particularly fascinated by the first piece – What if content could come to you rather than making you go to content?. I believe their idea for a sustainable news model is noteworthy. They suggest a deconstruction of traditional news medium ranging from both the newspaper to even seemingly modern websites. Rather, the delivery of this content would be through sites the user already browses typically – facebook, twitter, and other social media websites. The trick is to ensure the smooth connection between links provided on these websites to the articles on their host websites. The website would serve as an archive of content rather than the place to check for new content.

    I believe that the primary goal of informing readers will remain constant between traditional news delivery methods and this new deconstructed method of news dispersal. However, I believe it’ll be difficult to maintain a sense of organization in this new method. I’m not sure I understand how we will transition between different categories of news – features, environment, politics, etc. It will be comparatively more difficult for a consumer to find multiple articles about the same topic.

    I believe the career of the journalist will remain similar; they will still be producing news for the readers to consume. I believe we will see a rise in careers in possibly informatics in which people who are searching for the right demographic of people that suits their news content.

    I think it’s entirely possible that newspapers will eventually go extinct. I don’t see this happening in the next 5 years, but perhaps that will be the case in ten years. The costs associated with printing are too high compared to costs associated with digital newsletters.

  3. I think traditional newspaper names will stick around. People like to get their news from a source that they trust. New York Times, CNN, the Guardian, etc. will stay, I think, because they are credible. However, I think these names will change. I think that the idea of differentiating pricing is a good idea, because a chunk of the market is priced out of print journalism. I think news organizations are already doing this. The Wall Street Journal and New York Times, probably among others, offer deeply discounted student deals. I get my news from the New York Times app, and can read 10 articles for free per month. The idea of news coming to the consumer, not the consumer coming to the news is an interesting idea in this age of immediate gratification with little effort. For example, I get daily briefings send to my phone on email from the New York Times. News outlets have been innovating in convenience of news, which I think is a successful way to keep people reading their news. However, there is the problem of revenue. I don’t know what the solution is, but when there is so many options to receive free news on the internet, young adults and many other markets are not going to pay $4-$6 for a newspaper. The revenue is going to have to come from a new, innovative outlet. I think news is going to eventually be totally free for consumers (it almost already is).

  4. I found the first link somewhat difficult to follow at first. It took me a few minutes to realize that it wasn’t really an article but more of a middle man with a links to lots of other articles which illustrated their question of where does news media go now. As for the articles that the site gave us I found them very interesting. The first article had a picture that perfectly described how media might come directly to us now. The picture of a person about to pick up a newspaper and they were given all different choices showcases where media is going today. While I found the piece to give lost of informative information I found that it was pretty opinionated. The writer used phrases like “We need to….” and “I see the opportunity to…” which I took as an interjection of the writer’s own views. However I think that is somewhat of the point, the writer is trying to convince you of something. While this does bring to question if this is journalism. I do think that opinion pieces, along with more traditional journalism are both here to stay because the internet allows all people to easily read what they’re interested in.

  5. I agree with Clare that while the print newspapers are likely to phase out with the last generations that remember the newspaper-and-fireside-chat era of journalism, the names will remain. Despite the newspaper “extinction” – that is probably inevitable as newspapers hypocritically discuss climate change and the threat to our species while being wastefully printed on paper – news is not going anywhere. Just look at our own campus. Every day, my friends, professors, peers, etc. tell me newsworthy things; humans will always care about news, and probably more so in our globalized world.

    However, I think the shape of journalism itself is coming to a close. As Chapter 4 of Mediaactive points out, the question of the future is not WHO are journalists but WHAT is journalism. Will the New York Times survive? Probably. Will traditional articles still be written? Probably. But will a professor running an eloquent, well-researched, interactive Twitter feed receive equivalent respect for her piece as a journalist formally hired by the New York Times? Yes. While traditional journalism still has a niche in the “ecosystem” today, the playing field has been significantly leveled. When you receive text messages from your mom on the same platform as a CNN update and an email from a professor, it takes the authority and punch out of the news. I still recognize CNN as a reputable source, but as the Washington Post gets intermingled with my Facebook friends and my Harry Potter “liked” pages and the various ads, it really brings the journalist down from whatever credible pedestal they’ve built up.

    Personally, I think the “bringing the news to you” idea is horrible. I think it’s going to create filter bubbles where Republicans see right-wing news and Democrats see left-wing news and Kardashian fans see celebrity news and new mothers see education news and men see sports news. If the news gets *too* tailored to our interests, it becomes dangerous and stops being informative. The best “ingredient” I see right now is more of what the Apple Watch article was talking about; quick news updates that interrupt people at the right times. My CNN updates are my favorite thing. When Obama decided to veto the Keystone XL Pipeline from expanding, all I needed was that quick blurb to understand what was happening, as someone interested in the environment and already aware about the pipeline. News is going to move in the direction of tag lines and Tweet-length news notifications; but I don’t think that means the public will ever be totally uninformed or news-less.

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