I’ve never believed the changes in journalism are hitting so quickly and are so radical that journalism will be rendered obsolete, leaving journalists on the unemployment lines.
But I’d be lying if I said I haven’t worried about the future of the media. The difference is that the more I learn about social media and about the challenges facing the media, the more I’m optimistic. I’m not sure journalism is changing quite as much as the package it’s coming in and the ways we’re consuming it are changing.
Here are three seeds of optimism in this year’s state of the media report:
1) The report says newspapers are the only medium still suffering a decline. This isn’t good news for newspapers, but it means that other mediums are finding some way to stay afloat and package their product to a changing viewing public. They’re doing a lot of experimenting and apparently something is working.
2) Community news sites are spending more time trying to generate revenue than content, according to the report. While some may immediately write this off as bad news, asking whether the content is suffering because of uncertainty around the business model or because of habit changes in the viewing public, I think it could be positive. Instead of lamenting the past and complaining about how things are changing, this suggests a lot of outlets are actually doing something about it. They’re taking action and hopefully realizing they can use the fact the outlet is tied to a sense of place to their advantage when thinking up new ways to come up with revenue. I don’t think community journalism will ever die.
3) Lots of places did a lot of hiring last year, the report also says. We might lament the fact that the jobs once offered by newspapers or television stations are fading fast, but that doesn’t mean there simply aren’t going to be any jobs at all in the future. Those jobs are just going to be very different. People are going to have to learn new skills and be well-rounded. This can be very positive.
I’ll have to admit that I was surprised to see the number of jobs created in 2010. I’m not sure hirings make headlines like firings do, which is probably why the numbers were news to me.
Technology is going to continue to change the media business. It’s changing the content a bit, in that we’re seeing more brevity than before. It’s changing the way we find and read our news and it’s even changing the way we advertise. I’m not sure those afraid of technology should be in the business of journalism in this era.
On a side note, this week on Twitter, it was suggested that I follow a feed called CanMediaLayoffs. Perhaps this is some sort of reminder from the online world that the media landscape is changing!