Journalism, as our parents knew it, is a dying breed. With advertising rates falling or remaining flat, newspapers are struggling to keep up with online competition. As recently as 25 years ago, the Sunday edition of The New York Times was filled with content and a multitude of advertisements, giving the paper a hefty weight. It had a multipage spread of advertisements for a wide variety of employment opportunities. The New York Times had foreign bureaus, a large staff and a long list of stringers.
The digital revolution and a 24-hour news cycle has thrown broadsheets and tabloids into a struggle for survival, as they scramble for readership and advertisements. Major newspapers now have to rethink how to report news.
As major publications fight for survival, they are forced to lay off staff and cut back departments simply to stay in business. These publications try to beat out competitors, major corporations and investors like Warren Buffet who see the lure and potential of media and newspaper.
Downsizing is a worldwide phenomenon in journalism, as mainstream newspapers offer buyouts, integrate features into hubs and turn them into new centers of reporting. More importantly, they have integrated digital technology to create a ceaseless news cycle.
Technological development also puts blogs in the spotlight, which have evolved into a tool for viewership. Sites like The Huntington Post, Salon, Slate, Vice and Vox are emerging as serious rivals as purveyors of general culture, general news, investigative reporting and science.
Throwaway daily papers such as am New York and Metro are stiff competitors. They condense the events of the day at no cost to readers because they are buoyed by advertising.
The influence of Facebook, along with other social media networks, must be discussed as well. Social media networks encourage gossip and mean-spirited foolishness. They serve as a platform for the ill-informed as they post articles and react to videos and political propaganda. As a result, Facebook has transformed into something akin to a news source for many people.
Meanwhile, traditional publications, like The Guardian, The Los Angeles Times, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post, are scrambling for ways to beef up revenue and readership. The goal of these newspapers is simply to survive.
So far, The New York Times seems to be one of the only major newspapers that is reconstructing its efforts in the newsroom to fit the needs of the modern age. Its website is highly compatible with most mobile devices, which is an appropriate feature in an age when millions are turning to their handheld devices for information. U.S. citizens are living in an electronic age that is dominated by giant sites like Google and Amazon. In other words, the United States is in the midst of social engineering.
Cutbacks, layoffs and buyouts hurt. The alternative, however, is to transform traditional newspapers into blogs in order to create a profitable stream. However, this option seems to weaken the stream of coverage. Foreign, national and local coverage suffers during this age of the internet—they are much narrower in focus. Articles that appear in print are often regarded as stale news, a problem that blogs and the never-sleeping eye of the internet easily remedy.
On the one the hand, The New York Times is well-known for its investigative reporting, which is a huge investment in time and money. It is worthwhile to ask if major publications can afford to continue such an investment.
Even Rupert Murdoch’s print publications are on the financial ropes, as the industry fights for its existence. These publications are fighting an uphill battle as literacy levels decline and attention spans diminish due to television and magazines. Reconfiguring newspapers to face modernization in the 21st century will not be easy as there is not much leeway for experimentation.
Newspapers are living in a moment of history where they can capture an audience only by reporting entertaining news, such as news about the most recent presidential election. In other words, it may be more beneficial for newspapers to report news that the public gets from browsing social media or by watching sparse television, rather than the investigative journalism that they have done in the past.
With falling revenue, major newspapers cannot survive. Radical changes in U.S. politics also do not offer bright hopes because the news is up for immediate coverage by competing sites.
Society is entering a form of dead journalism where rumors overpower trust and truth, a fact that reminds readers that they are not reading news coverage, they are reading fiction.