Is journalism dying? While some are already writing journalism’s epitaph, others are arguing that good journalism is more alive now than it ever was before.
When you put the above query into a search engine, the results you receive are varied. Some believe that is struggling to survive, while others point toward its continued evolution as a counterpoint.
Those who think newsrooms are on their last legs point toward the US Bureau of Labor Statistics detailing that the newspaper industry has lost more than 50% of its employees since 2001. However, others believe that the news media is evolving, finding new business models that don’t fit into the traditional ‘newspaper’ guise.
Before we answer the question about the death of journalism, check out our guide to the best apps for journalists.
There may be something to that theory, as according to the Pew Research Center, the total number of newsroom employees working in the digital-native sector has increased from 13,470 in 2018 to 18,030 in 2020.
This is a clear illustration of where many of us are spending our attention these days.
On the one hand, many of the resources that national and local news had to survive are no longer of much value. While on the other, social media, podcasts, and digital news in general, are exposing people to more information than ever.
Where We Get Our News
Of course, it hasn’t been just traditional newspaper journalism that has been questioned in recent times. Not so long ago, there were stories detailing lost jobs in online news sources, such as Vice, Buzzfeed and the Huffington Post.
However, there is little doubt that traditional media is losing ground to digital media. For instance, research has shown that around 86 percent of Americans are getting their news from digital devices.
Meanwhile, the same study has also shown that only 10 percent of people are regularly getting their news from print.
What About The Trust Issues?
These statistics alone would suggest that the journalism ecosystem is alive and well, but its consumers have just migrated.
The differences between digital media and print may be one of the reasons people are asking about the welfare of journalism. Often digital publications rely on yellow journalism or sensationalism to attract readers.
People know that fact-checking is taken seriously when it comes to known newspapers. However, some of the “news media” which appears on social media has caused concern.
Misinformation and fake news have become part and parcel of the online experience there, leading many to ask about the future of journalism.
Never was this more true than during the pandemic, when stories were littered across the internet without any due diligence, often to further an agenda.
This information came from people without journalism degrees, from people who never worked as news reporters. Despite this, fake news still manages to damage journalism’s image.
Fact and Fiction
Many readers struggle to distinguish between genuine news outlets and perpetrators of fake news.
A recent study from Statista demonstrated this, where only a quarter of the American public said it would be confident in spotting online misinformation.
The same study showed that almost 40 percent of Americans accidentally shared fake news online. While almost 70 percent admit that it causes confusion when it comes to news stories. It doesn’t help that gonzo journalism sometimes blurs the boundaries between both.
The Good Fight
If journalism is indecipherable from creative writing, you may be asking how it can survive. Of course, the other side of that coin is that we need good news reporters to disprove all the fake news.
Now that information is so plentiful, we need trusted contributors to distribute the truth in this battle for our attention. The new digital landscape has proved to be an incredible asset for this.
For instance, The New York Times reported a record $708 million in digital revenue for 2018. Of course, some of this income reflected its reporting on President Trump and the search for credible bylines in a sea of questionable truths.
It was a time when misinformation was plentiful, so more people were willing to pay good money for actual journalism.
Investigative Journalism Finds A Way
Of course, people lamenting the death of journalism is not a new phenomenon.
Former Sunday Times writer, Roy Greenslade, stated that he first heard this proclamation almost 35 years ago. He said: “One of the enduring myths espoused by veteran reporters is that investigative journalism is dead. I think I heard it first in 1987 when I joined the Sunday Times. Several of my new colleagues were convinced, despite ample evidence to the contrary.”
Thankfully, there are more and more nonprofits supporting this cause.
In the UK, there are organizations dedicated to long-term investigative reporting. They include the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BIJ) and the Centre for Investigative Journalism.
In Katharine Viner’s excellent essay, ‘A mission for journalism in a time of crisis’, she discussed where journalism is. Her writing detailed some of the challenges and opportunities that lay ahead for the profession. She wrote:
“We have experienced a huge number of political and social shocks, a dramatic undermining of the business model for serious journalism, and what many believe is an unprecedented level of disruption to our planet, our nation states, our communities, ourselves.
“It is a searching time to be an editor, a journalist and a citizen – but also a privilege to be grappling with these questions, with a possibility of helping to turn this era into something better, to turn this moment to “beneficial account”.
There is little doubt that journalism has been affected by a lack of trust and other issues in recent times. However, it is only by doing what media outlets do best that trust will be rebuilt. Instead of answering is journalism dying, we should be asking ‘how will we keep it alive?’.
Resources For Journalists
FAQs About the Dying Journalism
Can journalism survive?
Journalism has faced many obstacles throughout the years and it has always found ways to adapt and thrive. Since the introduction of digital media, it has been doing just that, with employers now looking for reporters with a different skill set than before.
Journalism will survive because there will always be a need to keep powerful to account for their actions. It will also survive because news outlets have adapted how to deliver the news and will continue to do so as more changes happen.
Is the rise of social media harming the news industry?
On the one hand, social media has made it more difficult to discern the difference between fact-based news stories, and misinformation.
However, social media has also created many legitimate jobs within the industry and it has also become an excellent source for the news and an excellent outlet to distribute it. Overall, it is difficult to say whether it has been positive or negative. However, it has certainly had an effect.
Can journalism survive?
People have been saying journalism is dying for a long time, but it has always found a way to survive and even thrive. Of course, more and more people are moving away from newspapers. However, many organizations within the media are doing very well.
A Washington Post article in 2018 stated that “NPR is having a banner year, as are MSNBC and Fox News. The New York Times”, while “The Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal are reporting record numbers of digital subscribers.”
What is the future of journalism?
Journalism has been moving towards a more ‘digital first’ approach for the past two decades. Reporters of the future will make the most of digital tools while maintaining traditional skills, like a ‘nose for a story’, fact-checking, and an ability to deal with complex sources.