Local newspapers are boring and increasingly becoming a waste of time. Obviously it varies from town to town but in my experience local news has never really interested me and it is something that is often over-looked by most people, many choosing to get their news online whether it is local or national.
Most local newspapers are distributed to houses freely in a desperate attempt to gain readers or even to keep their loyal readers. I believe the main readers of local newspapers are that of the older generation who have been around the area a long time and enjoy engaging with the happenings of their town. Although if the older generation were brought up with technology they too might find that they would rarely look at local news and only online if they were to.
“The biggest change to the local and national media landscape over the past two decades is the emergence of new technology. There is now much more choice for people using media – whether it is audio, video or text – as digital technologies and the internet offer alternatives to traditional media platforms.”
The rise of bloggers and social media has made local news redundant. Everybody knows what is happening in their town with a constant flow of updates from their local Facebook friends or the Twitterverse before any local newspaper can tell you what is happening. Because of this it makes the regular newspaper that is posted through the door just another bit of junk mail which is never looked at and eventually thrown away.
The fact is that there is no money in local news anymore. In Richard Jones, ‘What do we mean by local?’ he speaks about how he set up his own hyperlocal news website, Saddlesworth News. Although he was able to reach a significant number in terms of readership he found difficulty in persuading local advertisers to become involved with his online venture.
“Most of the ads I did sell were to people who used the website as readers and had their own small online businesses”
(What do we mean by local? – Richard Jones)
Whether the local news is free or not there seems to be a major lack of money and a successful profit involved with producing it be it online or in traditional print. We cannot tell what will happen to local news but I feel it won’t be long until the traditional print of local newspapers becomes redundant and we use online if at all for our local news.
Social media is a popular term used these days, a term that would not have been used a decade ago and would have been relatively unknown. Twitter and Facebook did not exist, we didn’t have YouTube and the internet was just coming into popular use. Thus began the digital age and now you’ll be hard pressed to find somebody who doesn’t have a Twitter account let alone not know what it is.
Back in 2001 before the events of 9/11, before camera phones and social media really rose up citizen journalism didn’t really exist, it required specialist skills to take and upload video of a news event. People like business men who were specially trained in using html and were web savvy users able to create their own websites.
Fast forward to 2012 and everybody uses social media, anybody can create a website or have a blog in the digital age. Now news is instantly confirmed via mobile apps or we can check Facebook status’ or tweets whereas before we would have had to email or call via a landline. As well as this, news organisations now use social media to better cover information they were unable to then, calling on the masses for their input via UGC.
“The story is simple: Many of the major features of how we live, communicate, and get our information today did not exist — or at least were in their very nascent stages — in 2001. The entire Internet had 500 million users and something like 3 million public websites. HTML 4.0, which gave the web its basic features, had just entered its final published state. Facebook and Gmail wouldn’t launch for another three years; Twitter for another five. Google was not yet a recognizable verb. Another difference: No one at school had cell phones, let alone wireless Internet access.”
(Rosen, 10 years Can Be a Long Time: The World Wide Web on 9/11)
The rise of social media has come about hand in hand with traditional news however there are some who fear the digitizing of news.
“Most people are still happy to rely on mainstream news organisations to sort fact from fiction and serve up a filtered view, but they are increasingly engaged by this information, particularly when recommended by friends or another trusted source.”
The thing about Twitter is there is a flow of false information for example the deaths of numerous celebrities, which can be so easily taken in, not just by the gullible but by credible news organisations hoping to break the story first and trusting the first bit of information they see on Twitter.
However I feel that social media is an aid for journalism despite its’ downfalls. I believe that the way it breaks news through trending topics and collating all the news in one ideal location has created a greater interest in news through a great online discussion and the spreading need to share information with others. Social media is enabling live coverage of events such as hurricane Sandy which allows bursts of information as it is happening before leading people to the in-depth piece they will want to read.
Social media is just the beginning and something we are embracing. It will continue to rise and rise with journalism and ten years from now who knows just how we will be communicating and getting our news. It will evolve to fill the void just like social media did in the past decade and we can only wait for what the future holds.
We are aware of the online revolution that has never happened but we are still waiting for it to fully take shape. Steen Stenson speaks about how much has actually changed in his post ‘The revolution that never happened’ saying “Who would have thought, back in the 1990’s, that by 2010, online newspapers would still be mainly about publishing written text to a mass audience?” and he has a point.
The majority of traditional print media has moved online or is in the process of moving but it’s not quite what we expected. Though I think could it be that our expectation of technology taking over is far too high? We over exaggerate massively in media such as films as to what life will be like in the future, according to ‘Back to the future’ we should all have hover boards by now.
With journalism I believe it’s a case of the older journalistic values that need to make way for the new and young technology wielding journalists if this slow evolution of online journalism is to become this revolution. For many, they thought the internet would be the end of journalism, however as Stenson says “the Internet will not kill journalism. It will change it, but perhaps not so radically as one would expect”.
Apparently so much has changed due to technology which is true to an extent however it could change so much more if new tech-savvy journalists, which grew up in a multimedia world, were enlisted to use their knowledge of the tools available to them and fully embraced online journalism. Twitter is a good example of technology on the rise with it being rare for a journalist to not be on Twitter these days but at the moment the only real difference between print and online journalist is what it always has been, words, compared to words with media.
I’ve always believed that if I want an in-depth and long informative piece I will look to traditional media but if I would prefer to watch a video to gain a different perspective I will look to multimedia. I don’t think that the online revolution will necessarily kill print but will work alongside it until we fully embrace technology.
Looking at Paul Bradshaw’s blog on ‘How the web changed the economics of news – in all media’, it says how the economics of news has developed. In this blog he lists 12 points which outline some of the changes in how the media us being used, such as the devaluation of journalism and issues such as the funding of a constant media.
In point one it is indicated that the majority of the public will sweep over the news for a general overview which Bradshaw describes as ‘sporadic grazing’, however whilst this might be true for some there is still a large number of the population who religiously read their favourite newspaper everyday.
Point four it indicates that new technologies are reducing the cost of newsgathering and production to virtually nil but when you consider that newsgathering is the major cost for an organisation this cannot be true as people will want to pay to read quality journalism brought about by newsgathering and production costs.
Point six talks about the devaluation of certain types of journalism stating most people would go to social media for reviews or sites like amazon, itunes etc. However this is not true as people will go to a professional opinion before paying for something they want to see, they go to forums to discuss their opinions later for more detail. This points out that journalists must keep up to date with new technological advances (point 10) to keep ahead of the new monopolies journalists face from media advances.