Top Five Changes in Journalism Over the Years
- Competition for Clicks
- Rush to Publish
- Social Media
- Donation-Based Payments
The journalistic profession has changed dramatically over the years, and journalism jobs are much different today than they were a few decades ago. The Internet has been the biggest disrupter of the media environment, with newspaper circulations declining and major outlets such as the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times finding themselves in competition with political blogs and popular social media accounts. The profession of journalism will continue to provide opportunities for people who want to enter the field, but the overt politicization and treadmill-like nature of the 24-hour news cycle will be inescapable for future generations of reporters.
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1. Competition for Clicks
The advertiser-based payment model of online journalism has created a sensationalized media environment in which well-respected news outlets compete for clicks with independent content providers who are often less scrupulous in their analysis and commentary. Major newspapers and TV networks have been beset by embarrassing mistakes and retractions as they respond to the pressure to publish ever more incredible stories about politicians and public figures. Hyperlinked headlines are designed to bait readers into clicking on stories that often contain underdeveloped or inaccurate content.
2. Rush to Publish
When a news outlet is the first source to publish an important story, it gets credit and recognition for breaking the news. In the online 24-hour news cycle, journalists are under considerable pressure to break major stories before anyone else can get to them. In one high-profile case, three journalists were fired from CNN after failing to adequately fact-check a story before publication, according to the Washington Post. The story was related to the Justice Department’s investigation of the Trump campaign, and it damaged CNN’s credibility at a time when the network struggled to restore public trust in its reporting.
3. Social Media
Journalists can choose to cover many topics that aren’t related to politics, but major news outlets mix political advocacy with their coverage of every topic. From sports and music to business and technology, subjects without any direct connection to politics become politicized as social media becomes more polarized and acrimonious. Journalists rely on social networks, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, to reach their audiences and cultivate their professional reputations.
4. Donation-Based Payments
Today’s journalists are dependent on social media and obliged to participate in online political polarization if they want to reach an audience. Journalists with large online followings are not dependent on newspapers, networks or media outlets for employment, however, Direct support from readers, via payment channels such as PayPal, Patreon or Bitcoin, enable journalists to work independently and build trust with their readership.
Perhaps the most obvious recent change in journalism is the politicization of reporting on virtually every topic. Political polarization is simply one part of the evolution of journalism into a postmodern industry of relativity and subjective truth. Politics will be inescapable for journalists in the years to come whether they are reporting on Wimbledon or the Oscars or the presidential election.
The Internet has completely changed the way many jobs are done in the modern world, and few professions have changed more than journalism. Anyone interested in journalism jobs should learn how to promote themselves on social media and build trust with an online audience.