The Influence of the Internet on Journalism, By Jacinta Auld

A blog in today’s society has the potential to create new trends and influence the masses, more so than traditional media outlets. Is this newfound respect for blogging and social media disestablishing the Journalism industry, or encouraging a transition into more digitalized and interactive content? This background report will investigate the issues surrounding blogging and the transition to online journalism. It will also provide an objective analysis comparing and contrasting online journalism and print journalism, exploring the advantages and disadvantages of the conflicting mediums. The relevancy of this topic directly relates how social media and blogging are affecting the quality of work, the future of careers in the industry and how current audiences are likely to receive the majority of their news.

 

Author of Random House, freelance journalist, radio presenter and recognised industry professional Tiana Templeman was interviewed for her great insight of how journalism is adapting to cater for the overwhelming influence of the online realm. As journalist and professional blogger, Templeman has the perfect balance of objectivity toward the issues raised by both sides of the conflict[1].

Templeman mostly encourages the positive change in regards to how blogging and social media impact the quality of work. She says that “technology has improved the quality of my reporting. It has provided me with an opportunity to reconnect with mainstream outlets’ often declining readerships”. This is due to the prospect of allowing the audience to assist journalists to produce and disseminate content far more effectively than in the past. According to Templeman, the internet has provided freelance journalists to write about virtually any topic, alongside an audience who can help distribute their content. Templeman states that “having a strong industry presence can lead to other opportunities such as sponsorships and speaking engagements, the majority of which pay much better than the average story”.

Although there is no doubt that journalists have been challenged by the technological and media industry changes of the 21st century, the new working environment has also made way for new opportunities. Templeman stresses that journalists should take advantage of the changing media landscape by leaving behind the outdated operational paradigm of the news industry and create their own commercial reality. “I do think there will be a place for print journalism in the next 10 years and beyond but suspect it will become a more high-end and niche rather than mainstream”

In terms of Templemans career, the transition from traditional journalism to online journalism has been positive. “Technology has made it possible for publications to track which articles people are reading (hopefully mine!).” She suggests that journalists with a strong social media presence can use sites such as Facebook and Twitter to share links to their articles and increase the distribution of their stories. Templeman emphasises the competitive advantage freelance journalists who can demonstrate their worth commercially and professionally have. This is due to editors who are already seeking writers with their own audience to build readership of mainstream publications.

Building on the information derived from the knowledgeable Tiana Templeman, a variety of credible websites and data sets have been taken into account. This is in order to explore differentiating perspectives regarding the impact of blogging and social media on journalism.

The gap between a blog and online journalism is rapidly closing. However in order to understand the influences of blogging on journalism, it is critical to understand the distinction between the two. Bloggers have a vastly differentiating agenda to journalists. For bloggers, the driving factor is having fun or using the blog as a tool for creativity. Primarily, blogging consists of self-expression, rather than an outlet for news. In contrast, journalists present the story in an objective manner, and without personal opinion. It is therefore vindicated to state that whilst bloggers supply interesting commentary and stories, they do not provide news[2].

There has been a fascinating development in the quality of work over the last several years. Because online publications can be easily corrected, in contrast to the permanent record on print journalism, the severity of error has been lessened. The optimistic perspective entails that stories are continuously being improved upon and vectoring closer to the truth. Inclusively, accuracy of work is heightened[3].Another serious advantage in terms of quality online journalism is the inclusion of relevant multi-media enhancing the story. Journalists have a variety of options, such as complementary photo slideshows, videos, social media functionality, comments, updates, similar stories and more. Thus, by moving journalism online we leave the constraints of print and make way for more immersive and interactive stories[4].

Nevertheless, as a result of the ease in which it takes to correct online publications the quality standards are severely dropped for an initial post. This can lead to sloppy stories being published, thus creating a negative image for the journalist3. Regardless of this disadvantage, online journalism has been given an innovative twist by having the opportunity of incorporate multi-media elements into stories. With this in mind, the overall aesthetic and appeal of work will drastically improve.

 

Due to the influence of the Internet, various situations are enhancing the careers of those in the journalism. The first of which is the ease of distribution. Previously locked down, journalists can now distribute their work themselves through social media. This gives journalists the opportunity to create stories targeted at certain audiences and share them on social media they will likely access. From there, the audience can share and connect others interested in the topic. Thus, the monetary premium for control of distribution is lost, and for the better of journalism.

It can also be noted that market size is substantially escalating. Whether or not this is a result of the inclusion of the Internet in journalism, but it cannot be denied that there are more people consuming news presently than 10 or 20 years ago. The volume being driven up is still expected to increase in the next 10 to 20 years, thus providing aspiring journalists opportunity to create careers3. Regardless of these benefits, the biggest setback of moving journalism online is the loss of revenue. The prospective for online advertising revenue in comparison to print is diminutive. Even in the best-case scenario, 40 million monthly page views would only produce $7.6 million annually[5].

 

This argument is further supported when referring to the following data set[6]. As seen, advertising revenues have dramatically decreased from 2006 onwards. This could be disastrous for businesses in the journalism industry, as the minimal increase in online advertising revenues has no way of compensating for the loss. This is a direct result of the wider community disregarding print journalism, and turning toward the online substitute. It can therefore be justified that in order for the journalism industry to sustain itself in the increasingly digitalised world we live in today, a greater source of revenue is needed. Otherwise, despite the opportunities the Internet can provide, journalism simply will not survive in the years to come.

According to a recent poll from Roper Starch Worldwide, the majority of Americans’ receive their news from television. 37 percent of adults cited newspapers, 5 percent from magazines and only 2 percent noted online sources. However, across only households with access to Internet, 15 percent admitted to receiving news online. This can be expected to expand, due to the fresh innovations of storytelling on the new medium. Audiences are provided with access to information unable in any other media, thus a growing appeal [7].

Regardless of the Roper Starch Worldwide statistics, the increase of news being accessed via social media is clearly depicted in the data set displayed[8]. The significant increase of respondents in only 2 years suggests that the instantaneous nature of social media has attracted an increasing pool of audiences. It can be noted that the greatest increase is with the younger generation of 18 – 24 year olds. This indicates that online journalism may well become the mainstream news outlet as younger generations continuously rely on the Internet.

The clear disadvantage is the reliability of what can be considered news in the future. In the past it was understood that blogs were not considered credible sources which carry significance. However, due to the influence of blogging and social media today, trending “tweets” have the potential to be more powerful to a wider audience than traditional news. This can cause major issues for journalism in the future, as blogging and journalism continue to merge closer together[9]. Conclusively, it must be recognised that as more audiences receive their news online, more care must be taken to ensure the distinction between journalism and blogging. This is in order to ensure future generations obtain credible news, regardless of the media output.

It can be recognised that despite apparent flaws blogging and social media bring to future journalism, it is evident that numerous benefits are a result of online influences. Great potential such as multi-media elements can substantially boost the quality of work. Nevertheless, journalism must adapt in order to successfully sustain itself in the future, whether it be viable information or locating new sources of revenue. Regardless, the changes in journalism are inevitable, and journalists ought to keep up.

 

[1]http://www.tianatempleman.com/the-writer/ (Accessed 19 May 2014)

[2]http://www.pria.com.au/priablog/blogging-and-journalism-not-the-same-thing (Accessed 12 April 2014)

[3]http://a16z.com/2014/02/25/future-of-news-business/ (Accessed 19 May 2014)

[4]http://www.reformer802.com/behindthescenes/2013/03/14/print-vs-online-journalism/ (Accessed 12 April 2014)

[5]http://ijnet.org/blog/three-ways-journalism-business-changing (Accessed 19 May 2014)

[6]http://stateofthemedia.org/2013/newspapers-stabilizing-but-still-threatened/newspapers-by-the-numbers/ (Accessed 12 April 2014)

[7]http://web.mit.edu/comm-forum/papers/harper.html (Accessed 19 May 2014)

[8]http://stateofthemedia.org/2013/digital-as-mobile-grows-rapidly-the-pressures-on-news-intensify/digital-by-the-numbers/  (Accessed 19 May 2014)

[9]http://digitaljournalists.org/2014/03/09its-not-digital-online-or-multimedia-its-just-journalism/ (Accessed 12 April 2014)

 

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