The Black and White Truth The newspaper and social media

In a generation so dependent on the advancements of technology and our collective access to the internet, it makes sense that we are progressively seeing a decline in the production of paper mediums. With the new pixels-beats-ink mentality that the majority of us have seemed to adopt, you can’t help but contemplate the future of paper based industries such as the Newspaper. Are these businesses capable of adapting to change in order to ensure their role in society, or will they continue to push their existing product in a world that is ready for something new?

Upon glancing at the internet, we can see that there is already an answer to this question – the existence of a news media footprint in the world of social media. Coming to the realisation that this societal dependence on the internet has the potential to lead to one, disastrous ending for text based news articles, many Newspaper industries such as the Australian Herald have been quick to evolve their business onto the online world. This can be seen in the use of their own webpage, and related accounts on social media platforms such as Twitter. By allowing the same content to be accessible on different platforms, bot text and digital, the newspaper has evolved into a dependable and easily accessible crossmedia source.

Having joined the online community through social media platforms, these outlets are enabled access to new demographics that may not otherwise have access to, or the inclination to read a print media without the hassle of having to wait for whole newspapers to be published. Social media, as defined by the oxford dictionary, are “…online means of communication that are used by large groups of people to share information…” (Oxford Dictionary). By joining these platforms, news media are allowing the content to be accessed instantly, giving the ability to be publicly commented on, and can be shared by users as a way of instigating conversation or debate. This is a clear demonstration of a participatory culture, in where the public are able to access news stories the moment they are released, and publicly supply their own opinions on the issues presented.

Some are so bold as to say that print media is slowly but surely dying. Is this belief a direct result of society’s growing dependence on technology and our collective access to the internet? Many say that this is in fact the case, and according to business strategist and keynote speaker Ross Dawson, it is predicted that the print version of the newspaper in Australia will cease to exist come 2022. This prediction is made by having observed the declination in this industry over a number years, including the loss of marketing revenue and the cutting of jobs in all countries and districts. But as one door closes, another one opens – and with the decline in print media, we see this industry evolving with the technological age, finding their footing in a very different world of news media.

By using an online media source, news media organisations are able to use algorithms (a technique used by other websites such as google and youtube when posting adverts on the side of your webpage or suggesting the next video you should watch) to drive-home the notion that this digital media does indeed promote a participatory culture, as the articles suggested are stories that the algorithm deems you will be interested in based off of previous search history, and in this case, articles that you have previously read. An article by the Columbia Journalism Review, ‘How algorithms decide the news you see’, conducted an interview with Nick Diakopoulos of the Two Center for Digital Journalism, where he states “Algorithms make it much easier not just for you to find the content that you’re interested in, but for the content to find you that the algorithm thinks you’re interested in. (Jolly.J, 2014)” In a society where time is money and we have very little to waste, algorithms are a welcome way of wading through the stories that are of little personal interest to us, and to ensure that we are able to read the articles that we believe are worth our time and or hold our interest, quickly and efficiently.

The downside to this jump to the web, as of course, there always is one, is the number of people losing their jobs as a result of a lesser need of journalists. A study conducted in America in 2008 found that 85 percent of daily papers had cut newsroom staff by significant amounts (2008, Popsugar). As a result of fewer people purchasing the daily newspaper the number of journalists and photographers just can’t be justified. These statistics aren’t overly comforting for anyone apart of the industry, or aspiring to join alike. In 2013, the total revenue within the US newspaper industry declined by 2.6 percent, which equates to over a billion dollars of funds (Keen.A, The Telegraph). If this trend is to continue, as is suggested by Ross Dawson’s ‘Newspaper Extinction Timeline’ mentioned previously, this could mean a blow to the newspaper industry that they may not be able to come back from. Even if the printed newspaper may not yet be at risk of going extinct, the profit returned through sales is continuing to decline, raising the question: what is to come of it in the future? As in all things, the future is not certain, but are the steps that the industry are taking toward the online community preserving the business, or hurting themselves more than intended?

From this, we have discovered that social media and the internet have definitely made an impact on the news media and their print resources by influencing a participatory culture in which opinions are able to be expressed freely and publicly, and the crossmedia expansion that comes from adopting a new platform. These advancements make news access easy and reliable, removing the hassle that is carting around A5 sized catalogues with tiny print in public. However, as there have been negative consequences as a result of these evolutions such as the loss of jobs and the declining revenue in these businesses, whether or not it is for these changes to the digital world are for the better, is completely up to you as the individual to decide upon.

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Created with images by ChristopherPluta - "old newspaper newspaper the 1960s"

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