The current financial challenges facing news agencies have raised considerable speculation regarding the future of journalism. Indeed, traditional news businesses have laid off a huge chunk of their employees in anticipation for tougher days ahead. The layoffs and closures among print media houses have proved that the current set up of local news is unsustainable. The advent of the internet and the resultant social media space has not helped matters in today’s dynamic world (Engel 2013). The concept has encouraged communication and networking in the form of texts, pictures, blogs and videos thus replacing the primary role of print media. Particularly the transformation of social media into an influential tool for news breaking and communication is a threat to the sustainability of traditional news agencies (Dimitrov 2014). These events have rendered questions regarding the future of journalism, with some speculations regarding its death. But do these developments truly confine journalism, to its deathbed today?
Far from the myths of journalism undergoing a slow death, there is hope for journalism in the future. In fact, what has been speculated to be the death of journalism is nothing but a natural evolution of the concept. Consequently, journalists must adapt to the changing ways of the world if they harbor any chances of maintaining their relevance (Ryfe 2013). This paper critically assesses the assertion that journalism is dying by exploring its validity. The paper will rely on available evidence as well as an analysis of current trends in dissecting the topic further. While there is considerable evidence to show a decline in traditional forms of journalism, they do not in any way suggest a death of the profession. In fact, studies have pointed out to the fact that journalism is on an evolutionary path similar to those witnessed in other disciplines. Ultimately, the paper concludes that journalism is not dying but rather undergoing a natural process of evolution (Anderson 2013).
The advent of the new digital era has changed the face of journalism, but that does not spell doom for the profession at all. Today, there is more information across the different platforms than has ever been experienced before. Consequently, new facts are being announced today owing to the emergence of diverse news sources. In the past, the mainstream media was tasked with the reporting of important events as they occurred but today’s platforms allow for live coverage of the events as they happen. Essentially, therefore, there are more stories being fronted across the world allowing for archiving and searching of existing stories (Johnston 2016). As a result of increased awareness, popular and famous people are now watched closely, and people are able to share important events regarding these people of power. In addition, people are now more actively involved in the process of information sharing through comments on blogs, as well as sharing of available information (Dimitrov 2014). The phenomenon of witnessing, reporting and sharing does not confer a crisis on the journalism profession but rather an opportunity for growth and evolution.
It is no doubt that the new digital era is an affront on the traditional methods of news reporting of the past. In fact, the new transformation has presented a myriad of challenges to the past institutions of journalism. Nonetheless, challenges are only natural and do not essentially depict the death of a profession as old as journalism (Gravengaard 2012). The current challenge is purely based on models and not the actual content being communicated. The field of journalism is therefore under pressure to shift from the traditional business models of broadcast and print journalism to the current sphere of digital journalism. Although there is a crisis in the media industry, it is not necessarily affecting the journalism profession. The statistics of poor financial performance cannot be used to qualify the assertion that journalism is dying. Indeed, the profession of journalism is guided by the principle of public good and does not have financial profitability as a primary goal. Rather, the goal of journalism is to generate information that is reliable for a democratic society (Siapera and Veglis 2012). Since ancient times, the sources of financing for journalism have evolved with time to include government taxes, advertising, pay per view as well as subscriptions. The emergence of technology can only result in cheaper production of journalism. Regardless of the model used in production, the challenges facing the industry do not warrant a crisis.
Changes in journalism have been effected through the emergence of new technologies that allow for the proliferation of new individual journalists. In the past, journalists were restricted to those employed in the traditional institutions of journalism including print and television media (Macnamara 2010).Today, journalism incorporates newer production practices that provide meaningful information to the general public. Evidently, therefore, journalism does not refer to the news relayed to the people but the entire process of telling meaningful stories regarding new happenings in the world. The role of journalists has expanded to include that of understanding and dissecting new information and then passing it on to others for their uses. The entry of more journalists in the field may be threatening to the traditional institutions as their news items do not fetch much on the market. However, it does not mean an affront on the embodiment of journalism as a whole. Today, many individuals tell stories of the real world, either through audio, visuals or text, based on facts collected from the ground. Surely, the proliferation of journalists and the redefinition of who they are do not constitute the death of a profession. Journalism is varied in its perspective and form and may include television and radio reports, photojournalism as well as blogging (Fink and Schudson 2013).
The myth of a dying profession may actually be a source of opportunities for better journalism. It is nothing but an evolution that has remained constant for a very long time. Perhaps the reasons for the shock regarding the changes in journalism stem from the fear of change since the profession has remained unperturbed for long periods of time. In the midst of the challenges facing journalism as a profession, there is an opportunity for journalists to define a new identity. As thus, journalists must desist from hanging on to the mythical past ideologies and instead imagine their future in the profession. Even in the wake of changes in the field of journalism, the main functions remain unchanged to include data collection, storytelling and distribution, as well as interpretation (Carter 2004). The new changes facing journalism require an inclination towards collaboration in the use of technological tools. This development is enhanced through the features of sharing and retelling stories as told in other websites or blogs. In the end, the changes witnessed in the field of journalism are nothing more but natural events that are witnessed in other spheres.
The profession of journalism has undergone changes in relation to the role of journalists and their relationship with other journalists. Today, journalists conduct their job in a networked space and the concept of isolated journalists is no longer feasible. Despite these changes, the profession of journalism is not dying but actually becoming more integrated. Of course, there are bound to be collateral damage including those who do not conform to these changes. That notwithstanding, the change is in good faith and only serves to make the profession even better (Molyneux and Holton 2014). The concept of networked journalism has replaced isolated journalism and dictates that journalists work within a network in collecting, processing and distributing information. In the modern world, the practice of journalism involves collaboration with individuals from different professions as well as citizens. It is now possible to have different voices to a story, and the authorship is dictated by the contributing team. Although this may be challenging to the journalists, it results in a multiplicity of authored stories to the convenience of the readers (Anderson 2013).
Although there have been changes in the nature of journalism, they have only been for the betterment of the profession with regard to the quality distributed to the readers. The effectiveness of the internet has enabled the integration of collective intelligence through crowd sourcing. The concept allows for the inclusion of content that is generated by users including texts, videos and photographs from the members of the public (Cochrane et al. 2013). As thus, journalism is no longer a one-way traffic whereby the journalists feed the needs of the public. Rather, information flows two-way resulting in a more effective form, of journalism. This development is what has truly happened within the realms of journalism resulting to changes in the way of doing things. The evolution of journalism to include views and reports from the public improves the ability of readers to dissect the multiple dimensions of a story. The role of the journalist thus shifts from the traditional reporting task to a more inclusive task of fact-checking as well as analysis and interpretation (Mersey 2010). Ultimately, journalism provides an opportunity to add value to the information collected while integrating collected data and making sense of the collected information.
The value of the changes witnessed in journalism is not only felt among the journalist abut also within the general public. Today, journalism has acquired a perspective in addition to the traditional voice that it harbored. In the digital life of journalism, it is possible to come across multiple versions of a similar story owing in part to different styles of reporting. This is not a direct cause of death to the journalism fraternity but an opportunity for growth and development (Franklin 2014). Consequently, viewers and readers can compare different versions of a story online and make an informed judgment on the topic of discussion. The challenge with this development is that journalists find it hard to maintain a level of objectivity and neutrality observed in past journalism. However, the journalist stands to benefit by gaining the trust of their viewers and readers as their profiles become brands. Concurrently, stories with different points of views are seen to be authentic and equally informative gaining a larger audience across the world (Herbert 2015). In today’s world of journalism, the main ingredient is not objectivity but rather a sense of independence and transparency.
The field of journalism has also undergone changes in terms of publishing owing to cheaper technological alternatives. The main challenge with this development is that traditional institutions have hung on to their archaic methods of production. The advent of digital tools has reduced the cost of distributing as well as producing news. Nonetheless, these innovations are not easily incorporated into the existing cycles of news production resulting in challenges among the old folks (Dimitrov 2014). Although traditional models of reporting and news generation are faced with the challenge of maintaining subscriber base and reinventing their models, there are opportunities in the new technology. Today, the news agencies have no monopoly to the processes of information distribution and production.
There is no denying that journalism as a discipline has undergone numerous changes in the recent past. The emergence of the internet and social media platforms has revolutionized the processes of information distribution and production. Today, individual journalist abounds in the market and users have the opportunity to share vents as they happen. Part of the reasons for this development is the reinvention of news reporting to include texts, visuals and audios. Despite these changes taking effect in the world of journalism, they do not warrant a cause for alarm. Indeed, the field of journalism is not dying but rather experiencing changes in terms of production and distribution. The changes witnessed in the field of journalism are also a blessing to the concept as they allow for more inclusion in news reporting. The assertion that journalism is dying is, therefore, nothing but a myth advanced by people in fear of evolutionary change.
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