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The Evolution of News Media In Recent Years

It is fair to say that modern journalism and news reporting is a very different beast than what passed for the norm in days gone by.

The news media industry as a whole has undergone significant changes, most of which have been powered by advancements in technology.

Newspapers were the primary medium of journalists from the 1800s onwards, with radio and television joining the party in the 20th century.

However, the creation of the internet transformed news reporting, forcing those who worked in the sector to adapt or fall by the wayside.

Read on as we take a closer look at some of the ways that journalism has changed in recent years, assess whether these have been beneficial and predict what the future may hold.
An introduction to journalism

In simple terms, journalists work to gather, assess, create and present news and information for consumption by the general public.

They perform a valuable function in democratic societies, holding individuals in positions of power to account for their actions.

There are numerous types of news, from ‘hard news’ such as business and politics, to ‘soft news’ like celebrity or entertainment content.

Broadly speaking, journalists are supposed to be unbiased purveyors of news, but history has shown that this is rarely the case.

Journalism in the modern era

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While technology has provided a platform for people to access information more easily, it has also created issues for the journalism industry.

To meet increasing consumer demand for ‘real-time’ updates, modern media outlets have been forced to rethink how they disseminate information.

Online channels such as websites and social media are now all-the-rage, allowing media outlets more direct interaction with the general public.

Social platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are now the ‘go-to’ news resource for millions of people, but this has undoubtedly presented plenty of issues.

The race for clicks

Although speed is of the essence where news is concerned, every reputable journalist knows that accuracy is equally if not even more critical.

Many media outlets often prioritise clicks and views over the truth, which has been to the detriment of the journalism industry.

This point is particularly pertinent in sports reporting, where sensational headlines and content have become commonplace over the past few years.

However, respected media organisations such as Sportslens have started to fight back, investing heavily in quality news reporting to counteract the increase of clickbait and shallow content.

Fighting against ‘fake news’

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An extension of the clickbait culture has been the rise of ‘fake news’ – a form of disinformation largely facilitated by unscrupulous politicians.

Websites and social media profiles have been used to present an image of legitimacy designed to mislead readers and shape their views.

These tactics have been seen widely in the United States and United Kingdom in recent times and continue to be a significant cause for concern.

Many people view this manipulation of technology as a massive threat to democracy, and it is impossible to argue with their opinion.

Bias in journalism

It has long been argued that journalists should remain objective and impartial, presenting both sides of an argument to allow the reader to formulate their own opinion.

Objectivity generally refers to three distinct, yet related concepts – truthfulness, neutrality and detachment – but many journalists fail to adhere to this principle.

In recent times, media outlets have encouraged journalists to display their biases, particularly regarding political reporting.

The internet has driven this change, with people now able to debate issues directly with the individuals who are disseminating the information.

Attitudes towards media

One of the key elements of journalism is its role as a watchdog – serving the public to monitor and scrutinise people in positions of responsibility and power.

However, studies have shown that millions of citizens in developed countries are sceptical about media organisations and their motives.

For instance, some news outlets in the UK such as The Sun and Daily Mail are viewed as overly sensationalistic, inaccurate and racist.

Despite this, there are journalists who have built up loyal followings by ensuring that they adhere to the long-established principles of true journalism.

The monetisation issue

The shift towards the internet for news dissemination has been challenging for media organisations, particularly regarding the financial side of the business.

Monetising websites is a tricky task, with many consumers believing that the information they can access should be available for free.

Some outlets such as The Telegraph and The Athletic have headed down the subscription route, despite numerous experts predicting that paywalls are doomed to fail.

Other news organisations are heavily reliant on sponsorship and advertisers, but this presents other issues in terms of user acceptance of what many feel intrudes on their online experience.

Future challenges for journalism

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Perhaps the biggest future challenge for journalism is how facts are interpreted by the general public in an age where everything appears to be questioned.

Education, knowledge and evidence have historically been used by journalists to differentiate between fact and fiction, but for many people this is no longer enough.

Conspiracy theories and falsehoods have become a threat not only to journalism, but also to democracy, making it difficult for reputable journalists to do their job effectively.

Manipulation by organisations that seek to shape the world to their ideals is also a major threat to the art of journalism moving forward.

Journalism – The Final Word

Realistically speaking, journalism remains the same as it was in the past. Journalists still gather and verify information before presenting this to their audience.

What has changed significantly is the method by which this is done and the number of media outlets that perform this function in the 21st century.

While clickbait and sensationalism continue to run rife, there are still some journalists and media organisations who strive to do the job as it should be done.

Whether they can continue to make themselves heard in the future is clearly up for debate, but the world will be a much better place if they succeed.

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