By Hiba Naeem
The concept of 'The Fourth Estate' is one of the first lesson taught in an elementary mass communication or media studies class. The idea enforces the importance of journalism as the fourth estate after the first three; legislative, executive, and judicial. So, it is no surprise that journalism is viewed as a serious profession; one that comes with a great sense of social responsibility. However, with the arrival of high-speed internet in the last two decades, journalism has transformed greatly and in this article, we at The Story Market look at some of the most drastic changes in journalism.
The decline of traditional media
Undoubtedly, the advent of high-speed internet and the evermore user-friendly smartphone experience have been the biggest threats to traditional media, both print and broadcast. Consequently, newspaper companies have attempted to launch websites where they often continue the traditional newspaper layout with a monthly or yearly subscription fee and allow access to a limited number of free articles per month. Such attempts by traditional media to meet the challenges of these rapid changes have resulted in the emergence of what we identify today as ‘new or digital media’. But this digital media space is vast and ever-expanding as independent, freelance journalism becomes a more lucrative and creative option for many individuals. With more amateur journalism providing social and political commentary than ever, new media has immensely transformed how we consume news every day. This in turn has led to growth in activism and greater demand for public involvement as digital media generates much quicker feedback than traditional ones.
Role of social media
Over the last decade, the use of social media platforms such as Twitter, Youtube, and Facebook have made news ever more accessible and freely available. This has forced many conventional media outlets to digitize their channels as even successful companies struggle to compete with independent news sources on social media platforms. As social media outlets incorporate a more user-friendly experience, news channels are forced to alter the way they have reported stories too. ‘Gifs, Tweets, hashtags, memes, and snaps’ are now frequent features in new articles, even on most serious news platforms. The growing tide of influencers and social media bloggers have also meant that news readership is no longer based merely on the authenticity of media companies but rather on the number of followers any influencer or blogger has. This also means that influencer’s political views come into play when readers determine where to politically lean. While this gives a greater sense of freedom and choice of news for readers, it also problematizes the issue of gatekeeping. Overflow of information and lack of authenticity are some of the many problems that arise out of this amateur reporting.
New age problems
It would be untrue if we did not acknowledge the dilemmas that have also emerged with these changes in media. Perhaps, the biggest is that of fake news. The threat of fake news has led academics to label our times as ‘the post-truth age’, one where misinformation is simply rampant. With tweets and stories quickly going ‘viral’, news outlets have never faced greater pressure to compete for stories. As they scramble to post stories, fact-checking is sometimes compromised. What makes matters more complicated is the rise in ‘clickbait’ reporting as economic pressures force news companies to make their content more attractive. However, with better technology and growing interest in independent reporting, there are now outlets that focus more on investigative reporting and provide ‘fact-checking’ as their main feature.
The future of journalism
All in all, the role of a journalist has become a much-debated topic in our increasingly technology-driven lives. What remains uncontested is that technology is here to stay and grow. And as publishers and reporters alike evolve with time, freelancing becomes a preference for many. This is where The Story Market comes in. With its revolutionary use of AI and translational tools, it has enabled numerous freelance journalists to resell and republish their work to some of the most prestigious publishing sources in the industry. Smoothening away the hassle of transactional and licensing procedures, it has allowed publishers and journalists to come together in a user-friendly platform with ease of access. So, if you are an interested journalist who is new to the world of freelance journalism, you will find our post on expectations regarding freelance journalism super helpful for all your queries as a beginner in the field. We also recommend reading more about us here if you are a publisher who is curious to know how The Story Market can help you connect to world-class journalists!