It’s true, news has changed. If I was in a relationship with news, I’d say it’s not me – it’s definitely you! Some change is good, though and in this case, it’s for the better.
Go on then, what’s happened?
Well for one, journalists don’t swan around in beige macs and black hats anymore (well, some might – who am I to judge?!) They can’t be found banging away on the typewriter, cigarette in mouth and black coffee on tap. What they do still have is a passion for hot-off-the-press news and – bonus feature – a vast array of new tools with which they can gather/circulate such news.
Access to a veritable wealth of contacts via social media networks is one of the biggest tools in their arsenal and where once the dream was to make the front page of the biggest national rag, now for many, it’s to have an influential online presence.
Today, the best journalists are keen to break the hottest stories long before newspapers can get hold of them. They’ll have many more followers than followees on Twitter and generally be respected as an authority. This also brings with it a demand for their opinion on said news, not just the ins and outs of the actual story.
Enough about them… what about consumption?
When it comes to news, the world still can’t get enough. The biggest change is the very nature of said consumption. Increasingly, members of the public are able to choose from a very wide range of channels; using the length of article and depth of detail they wish to find as deciding factors.
It is this demand for options that arguably has led to the overwhelming popularity of online news. Say someone reads the latest update about a political uprising… not only can they find the news they want, but they can also find any desired background information in an instant. This isn’t something a newspaper can offer and in many cases, the newspaper wouldn’t have the most up-to-date information anyway, given the once-a-day printing cycles.
The roll-on effect of this is that readers’ loyalties are no longer as black and white as they used to be. Some news lovers, particularly of younger generations, are becoming more fickle in their affiliations with news publishers; simply moving to wherever provides them with the best service for their ongoing needs as they see fit.
Of course, there are those like my father, whose trust in news is mostly linked to that which he can hold in his hand – and I don’t mean an iPad! It is this loyal, reliable audience which makes me think that print newspapers certainly aren’t on their way out just yet… and probably won’t be for a good few years.
So, has the industry adapted as necessary?
The truth here is that yes, national newspapers and publications have – but no, local newspapers haven’t. Admittedly many local newspapers aren’t heading online but usually, this only applies to the lucky ones that have forward-thinking CEOs behind them, or a tech-savvy team. For some hyperlocals, there simply isn’t the foresight or budget to catch up with the online revolution.
However those that have adapted have done so with force; either creating slick websites that cater to a younger audience, creating apps that deliver the latest news straight away – or both. Of course, some have put up paywalls, somewhat taking away from their efforts to change, but for the most part, national publishers are recognising that if they don’t embrace the internet, their future could be in jeopardy.
It isn’t just news publishers that have adapted though. Increasingly, brands are noticing the opportunities the evolving news market throws up. They are now acting as publishers in their own right, competing with traditional outlets for readers and online traffic by publishing neutral, industry news.
What’s the outcome?
In one word: competition. The industry’s evolution has opened up a wealth of opportunities and in turn, much greater competition. However to me, this is a good thing, given that it creates a greater commitment to quality and ultimately, whether people prefer print or the internet, that’s what they want from their news.