Journalism in 2013: A dying art form or a new frontier?

It’s that time again.  Another year is behind us, and despite the bluesy weather of late January, most people still cling to some lingering hope of change, betterment and new possibility.

Most are crowding the gym, attempting to keep up their resolution to get fit, or promising themselves they’ll start going to bed at a reasonable hour, that they’ll give up alcohol, fast food or smoking.  Unfortunately, within another week or two, the gym will be back to hosting regulars, McDonalds’ drive-thru line will wrap around the building by noon and Uncle Jack will be back to his one-pack-a-day routine.  Let’s face it, humans are much more inclined to be creatures of habit than creatures of change.

There’s one thing that seems to be in a constant state of flux, though, no matter how hard we try to define it or slow it down: journalism.  It doesn’t take a news junkie to recognize the major changes that have taken place in the news industry in the past 15 years or so.  Print publications have lost readers to the Internet, a number have been forced to shut down and most have cut their regular staff drastically.  We now live in a world where anyone can share “news” with the click of a button — whether it’s through Twitter, Facebook, a blog like this.

So what’s an aspiring journalist to do?  Trade in your AP Stylebook for a science textbook?  Blasphemy!  The media world will indeed continue to change in 2013, but change doesn’t have to be all bad.  Sure, it won’t be your parents’ newsroom, but I believe that journalism will still be alive and well in 2013, if one simply embraces new possibilities.

It’s no secret that news has been moving online for the past decade and a half — if you don’t have a website, then your news publication might as well not exist in the eyes of the 21st century.  Last fall, I interned for a newspaper that published 100 percent online, and guess what?  I actually liked it.  I predict that the Web will continue to reign supreme when it comes to delivering news this year.  However, I think that more groups will begin shift toward niche news.  For example, there will be websites that are only sports news, only business news or only music news.  This could help to solve the dilemma of getting readers to pay for news online.  If people are legitimately invested in a certain topic and there are niche news outlets that will provide the best up-to-date information about that topic, then I think most rational readers would be willing to start paying for news again.

I also expect to see more multimedia projects used to tell stories.  Heidi Moore wrote an article for the Neiman Journalism Lab in which she imagines a new kind of newsroom that encompasses much more than your regular journalists and copy editors — there will be programmers, social media experts, video and audio editors, etc.  The great part about publishing news online is that there is the potential to make use of so many different media platforms — video, audio, graphics — not just simple print.  I think if journalists take advantage of these new platforms for expression, there will be plenty of work available.

Finally, with so many people trading in old cell phones for smart phones, it is inevitable that news organizations will have to accommodate those readers who take in the news through smart phone apps.  The State of the News Media 2013 reported that over 40 percent of adults now own a smartphone and one in five own a tablet.  News groups who respond to the need for a digital layout that translates to smartphones and tablet screens will be more successful not only in getting their name out, but they will also have the potential to gain a greater profit through the sale of apps.

So, dear newsy friends, instead of lamenting the inevitable changes that will take place in the journalism world as a new year begins, try your best to embrace the change and seek new possibilities that come along with it.

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