Look alive, journalists! On March 26, the Pew Research Center published its 2014 edition of State of the News Media. This annual report gives an assessment of the current trends and climate of the media world, as well as some insight on what may lie in its future. This year’s report stated that the news is taking a turn for the trendy. As print newspapers and print-focused outlets unfortunately take a decline (according to the article, newsroom employment dropped by 6.4 percent in 2012), the stories have adapted to a new platform: online.
Change is in the Air
One of the more telling features of the report was the drastic change in staff among digital news outlets. For example, BuzzFeed, a website that was previously thought of as just another place for taking mindless quizzes, was reportedly able to grow its editorial employees from about six to a startling 170 in only two years. Its broken out into the news field by upgrading its little-known news section, even including some breaking stories — and for those of you who may doubt its credibility, BuzzFeed now employes Mark Schoofs, Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter and former writer for both ProPublica and The Wall Street Journal.
There has also been a noticeable shift in the kind of news that is reported on these Internet-based outlets. According to Pew, more than half of the smaller organizations that were observed classified themselves as local or hyperlocal, and 45 aid they focused on investigative work. This means more checking authority figures and corrupt practices, a trend many news organizations have gotten away from. But don’t panic, the sports, technology and global news sections are still out there as well.
What does the Future Hold
We have come to a point where readers no longer want to hear dry, one-sided stories. That’s not news. True news now has to involve storytelling, a personal way to draw readers into a work so that they actually care about whatever issue is being reported on. The online platform gives reporters more freedom to do this. Without the restriction of word-count limits and having to fit a space, journalists are free to really dig into the heart of an issue to get to the true story. Similarly, we can now embed more images and video into our work, giving a more package feel to our stories. One organization that’s been particularly on-top of this trend, from my observations, is the Center for Investigative Reporting. It covers short, feature stories; longer series reports that come in parts; The I Files YouTube channel for videos; and, more recently, Reveal radio to publish podcasts. All of these things both generate new content and supplement text-based stories for a fuller experience.
To read more on the future of journalism from a social media standpoint, head over to my posts where I discuss Alexandra Chang, reporter for Wired, and her views on social media and reflect upon Dan Gillmor’s book, We the Media.