There is a seemingly varied tone used by different journalists regarding the future of newspapers and news media. Frank Rose’s article in Wired takes an optimistic approach to where news could go with the advent of smartphone and tablet use by media consumers. Others such as Clay Shirky (whose article on medium.com states that “the future of the daily newspaper is one of the few certainties in the landscape”) are focused on a more pessimistic viewpoint showing the decline of traditional media across the nation, and the globe. Reading so many expert opinions that are torn in alternate directions makes it hard to find a leg on which to structure my own developing point of view. While I do see the value behind making news accessible by various devices and forums, I can understand the dreary gloom facing classical journalists’ livelihoods and way of life.
But what is most confusing to me is what the exact cause for the decline of jobs in newsrooms is. Rose asserts that news outlets such as The New York Times and BuzzFeed.com are finding that “roughly half” of their readers are getting their news from mobile devices. It would appear that the readership among younger readers has increased greatly due to the vast availability of news apps on smartphones. So why can’t these newsrooms operate on a similar business model of selling advertising space while shifting the medium used to communicate the news?
Perhaps this is, in some ways, similar to the decline of many ‘mom & pop’ shops and the widespread consolidation of commodities found at your local WalMart or Target. Some may call this ‘Survival of the Fittest News’ and expect that someone such as Warren Buffett who has (seemingly) infinite capital could ride out the storm and eventually own some sort of mega news conglomerate available on the hundreds of millions of smartphones across the globe. If media organizations are indeed shrinking in number but growing in size, then Andrew Leonard was right in saying “a golden age for readers doesn’t necessarily translate into a golden age for writers”.
What seems evident (if I can even begin to guess what’s appropriate) is that news organizations need to find ways to increase ad revenue, while concurrently appealing to the newest generation of media consumers. That should be…
easy possible, right?