Society is Changing, Media is Evolving and the Future of Journalism is in Question

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Sarah Beth Costello is a young reporter.

By Sarah Beth Costello

The invention of the printing press was a pivotal moment in history
when information could finally be communicated through print.

Six hundred years later, technology has experienced significant evolution that has benefitted as well as negatively impacted different media forms, specifically journalism.

Newspapers are no longer the only sources of information. The public is not required to wait 24 hours for the next breaking news stories. Just as current events constantly change and information emerges, media has evolved to keep up with the change through constant and instant technology.

The Internet has become one of the most popular sources of information. According to a 2008 study, over 200 million individuals in the North American region are Internet users.

The Internet is an overwhelming technology that is not only available via computers, but is also accessible through portable technology; including cell phones, iPods, BlackBerries and laptops.

In a society accustomed to instant gratification, attention spans have shortened. The public can stay informed and connected through Twitter and RSS feeds, which are tools that deliver short, succinct, and to-the-point information without the hassle of reading through a 500 word article.

This new era of communication is one that has engulfed an entire population, connecting them in a virtual reality that keeps them continually informed.

The future remains hazy

Over the past couple of years, we have seen a decline in the newspaper business as companies have been forced to compete with the growing Internet and other “more modern” media forms.

According to Journalism 2.0 by Mark Briggs, 3,000 journalists have lost their jobs since 2000. Newspaper sales are “declining” and some companies have even gone under due to their inability to compete in a competitive environment.

Despite the seemingly cloudy future for journalism, Briggs offers an optimistic view.

“But this product in all its forms – journalism – is worth saving. It creates community on so many levels. And it creates marketplaces that are essential to the continuing viability of entire companies.”

The purpose of journalism is to gather, edit and communicate information and news in a manner of presentation for the purpose of distributing it to a broader audience.

For anything to survive, it must change and adapt to its surroundings otherwise it will remain stagnant, inept and will eventually die. But journalism is far from extinction.

In his article, Online Opportunities Make Journalism’s Future Bright, Despite Gloomy Feelings, Rich Gordon said,

“When we look back on the early years of the 21st century, we will recognize it as a period of exploding opportunity for journalists and the start of an exciting new era for journalism.”

New Technology for Journalism

Technology has undergone many changes in recent years, however, journalism has also welcomed new changes and venues of communication.

While the Internet is a competitor of newspapers, it has become a useful tool for journalists. The ability to tweak articles, provide updates, graphics, images and video draws an audience.

“And technology continues to march forward,” said Gordon, “creating new devices that can act as conduits for journalism. A world where TVs can download Internet content or where mobile phones and iPods can access online video is a place where citizens have many more ways to access great journalism.”

Though the future of journalism is questionable, it is arguable the need for journalism is more prevalent today than it has been in the past. Mark Glaser, a freelance journalist, wrote an article in 2007 titled: 10 Reasons There’s a Bright Future for Journalism. Several valid arguments are presented that make a case for the success of journalism.

Glaser argues that the “industrial revolution” of technology will not hinder journalism, but aid it as more people gain access to media that has been unavailable in the past. For instance, the public once solely relied on field journalists for information of foreign events.

Thanks to the Internet, the public no longer needs to rely on journalists in foreign nations to report the feelings, actions, and news occurring in other parts of the world. Individuals can access local newspapers from any country via the Internet. Accessibility is much easier today than ever before, making journalism a needed and valued source of information.

People desire companionship. Though this new generation lives in a rapidly changing society, the need and desire for personal communication cannot be replaced. RSS feeds may be faster and easier to read, but regardless of one’s generation, short sentences cannot replace a soul-filled, publically-appealing and well-written article.

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4 comments
  1. Janna said:

    Sarah, this is an elegant design, and your writing is extremely clean and clear. As a graphic designer, I would comment that gray type in this small font will be off-putting to older readers of your work (they like larger, black type), so if you think you may be marketing your talent with this portfolio to a crowd that’s over 40 you might rethink that aspect of it. The photo is a good one, and it is well-placed in the space – grouped in a set of points of entry to your content. Readers might give up about half way through because they run out of eye candy. Sometimes writers add in subheds or they make the first few words of each new set of ideas bold and/or all caps. You could also try pulling out some direct quotes from Glaser and using them as graphic images – pull-quotes. Don’t leave the “junior” in the caption because it will be inaccurate in just a few months – write your content to stand up over time if you need it to be that way. There are some minor editing and style errors here. As a reader and an editor my major comment is that I would like to read less to get more – this is extremely nitpicky. There’s nothing wrong with what you wrote, but you could have written more in fewer words and also could have included more linked references to valuable discussions of this topic by other more-authoritative voices. For instance, you write “others have a more optimistic view” – right at that point you could link to the blogs of Jeff Jarvis, Jay Rosen, Dan Gilmore, J.D. Lasica or others, so you are being specific about “others.”

  2. Janna said:

    The bold type adds. Keep doing that to help people move through your work. Subheds help add points of entry to the reporting.

  3. I have a blog for you to check out. His name is Ryan Ozawa He is not a journalist but involved in new media. He does a good job. I do not always agree with his views but I enjoy his writing and he and his wife’s Lost podcast “The Transmission” http://www.hawaiiblog.com

    Another good one that combines news, travel tips, music, politics, podcasts and more is located here http://www.808talk.com/ He is Vernon Brown a U.S. Navy officer and a new media guy.

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