Five Future Challenges for Journalism
- Personalized News Feeds
- Declining Circulation
- 24-Hour News Cycle
- Political Advocacy
- Fake News
The journalism industry is rapidly changing, and journalism jobs could be affected by the changes coming to newspapers and online news outlets in the future. From local network affiliates to the New York Times, the pressure to attract paying customers has created serious challenges for journalists trying to cover stories objectively and truthfully. The challenge for news reporters and editors is to provide accurate coverage as quickly as possible without publishing false or biased information. As the news readership becomes overtly politicized, newspapers and networks have little choice but to change with the times at the expense of their credibility.
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1. Personalized News Feeds
Facebook and Twitter have inadvertently created online political cultures of maximal tribalism and infinite personalization. Users can silo themselves in self-made realities while taking part in collective expressions of tribal outrage that often seem alarming and bewildering to outsiders. Professional journalists can’t escape the fact that their work will be performed in service of this process of political polarization. Social media personalization means that journalists essentially become content marketers publishing information for a particular niche. Journalists who understand this income model will have plenty of room for professional growth in the future.
2. Declining Circulation
Newspapers, news networks, and cable news channels are losing viewers and readers as an increasing number of alternative news sources become available. The quality of these sources ranges from extremely poor to excellent. Even the most unreliable and discredited sources of information attract viewers who might otherwise get their news from a major network or newspaper, so authoritative news outlets find themselves competing with conspiracy theorists and purveyors of so-called “fake news.”
3. 24-Hour News Cycle
The 24-hour news cycle puts reporters in the difficult position of having to publish stories without proper fact-checking. According to the conservative website The Federalist, several political stories have been retracted by the Washington Post and the New York Times. As audiences become increasingly fragmented and polarized, news organizations are responding by aligning themselves more closely with one political camp or the other.
4. Political Advocacy
While Fox News has always been an openly conservative network, its programming directors made a noticeable decision to give favorable coverage to then-candidate Trump when the Republican party nominated him for president in 2016. So-called “mainstream media” outlets have been criticized for presenting themselves as unbiased while largely employing reporters who personally hold liberal beliefs and vote for Democratic candidates. CNN has famously been challenged to abandon objectivity in its political coverage after being labeled “very fake news” by President Trump during a press conference.
5. Fake News
Major social networks have been criticized for allowing fake news stories to proliferate on their platforms. According to the BBC, fake news is read most consistently by the conservatives and liberals who are most likely to vote. They tend to be more educated and earn higher salaries than the general population. In the age of fake news, the challenge for journalists is to publish content quickly without making any fact-checking mistakes.
As more people join social media networks, news journalists have an opportunity to expand their outreach and establish their reputations. The journalism jobs of the future may not be the same as they are today, but they will be available for anyone with the flexibility to adapt to a changing market.