When newspapers dominated the media market, it seemed as though the industry was more orderly than it is today. People interested in current events picked up a newspaper from the local newsstand or had the daily paper delivered to their front door. That was how news was commonly disseminated.
It’s the Information Age now, and things are quite a bit different. People tend to get their news online, while shunning the local dailies.
That doesn’t mean, however, that things are worse. The change in the model for both news reporting and gathering represents a welcome shift. This is because, like so many other successful business models, it’s consumer focused.
For starters news reporting is much more efficient. Thanks to the Internet, a journalist can simply type up an article and press a button to submit it to an editor. Once the editor approves it, it’s available online immediately.
During the heyday of newspapers, information was never transmitted to consumers of news that quickly. Instead, they had to wait until the next edition of the newspaper was released, then buy the paper (at a time when it was convenient to buy it) and then, finally, locate the article and read it.
Perhaps you’ve seen The Daily Show skit in which a comedian is conducting an interview with a representative from The New York Times. During the interview, the comedian mentions that the newspaper is filled with “yesterday’s news.” The rep pushes back on that suggestion. The interviewer then picks up a hard copy of The New York Times and ask the rep to name just one thing in the newspaper that happened today. That drew a blank stare from the rep and a lot of laughs from the studio audience.
Also, consumers of news have easier access to news now. Once an article is online, it’s easily accessible on a website from your desktop, laptop, or mobile device. You can also opt to receive alerts about certain current events in your inbox.
This means that news is moving towards a consumer-driven model. There’s nothing wrong with that, because that’s the nature of the free market itself. The media is subject to the same market forces that influence other businesses. So, for the media to move in a direction that makes things easier on the consumer is a natural evolution.
Finally, keep in mind that newspapers only dominated the media industry for about a century and a half. Before that, people got their news from a variety of sources, including word-of-mouth, sermons in church, and the town crier. Once television and radio appeared on the scene, the news industry started moving away from a complete dependence on print format.
Yes, the news media is changing. It’s become more consumer focused and more efficient. In that respect, it’s moving in the right direction.