Whether you know what that is or not (I didn’t), the viewpoints of the contributors are insightful, varied and telling. Please read.
The point of this post is a self-realization: I am not the only journalist to be leaving my field. In fact, the article cites another USA Today reporter who’s left his post for a digital communications firm. Scott Martin’s primary reason is also concern for the direction of journalism. In his case, specifically technology news. Martin writes, “…Social media giants are becoming the new distribution powerhouses and gatekeepers of news as well as the place to put advertising dollars to work,” and as a result, he believes news is indirectly becoming corporate advertising.
My thoughts on journalism’s future are similar, though Martin addresses the introduction of advertising at a level deeper than my thinking.
1. Despite my interest in local news, its audience is diminishing.
2. The demand for viewers leads to efforts to engage the public.
3. Oftentimes these efforts focus on social media.
That timeline seems innocuous. New attitudes, approaches and mindsets are necessary to keep up with society’s changes.
Here’s the problem. With fewer people tuning into their local stations, those newsrooms are making decisions that tend to lean toward the more scandalous, the ones that will grab your attention. They’re also using social media in a way that gets people to tune in. Oftentimes it’s a simple copy/paste and putting the audience’s thoughts on the air.
Is this the right platform for random comments? Is this news? As stations become more desperate for viewers and engagement, I feel there will only be more changes that will not reflect the heart of journalism.
I will say that the current station I’m at does not compromise on many of these things, but I’m looking ahead.
It’s an unusual state-of-mind for me to be in. I generally plan in the short-term. But again, after much prayer, reflection and conversation, I’ve been able to take this leap of faith, leaving a job I love, to find out what else is in store. Stay tuned.
*I had no idea what a “news scrum” was either. Fast Company describes it as a place where “senior reporters add crucial context and information to a mainstream technology story.”