It’s no secret that as the Internet and social media have taken off, print publications and newspapers have seen a steep decline in circulation, readership, and revenue. Just a little over a month ago, the Newspaper Association of America released its estimates for advertising revenue across the newspaper industry finding a 27.2% decrease in advertising revenue from $37.848 billion in 2008 to $27.564 billion in 2009. Going back even further, however, Ben Parr notes that in 2000, newspapers peaked at $48.67 billion in revenue, but in just the past four years, newspaper ad revenue has dropped an astounding 44.24%.
Despite these depressing statistics, journalism isn’t dead, it’s just evolving, and those who are embracing the online space and social media are at the top of the survival chain. Specifically, those familiar with data visualization, incorporating intelligently designed graphics, charts, pictures, and videos will rise to the top. As readers become increasingly comfortable with the short snippets of information that social media has mastered, it will become all the more important for newspapers and publications to incorporate the same kind of style – keeping attention grabbing headlines short and sweet with important facts called out in bullets or boxes while integrating plenty of multi-media to keep readers on their site, clicking around for more content.
Jeff Beer’s recent article demonstrates other ways new digital tools and social media capabilities are changing the media landscape. He notes that social media tools aren’t diminishing the importance of journalists and journalism as a whole, but, rather, they are bolstering the quality of the content. Twitter is giving journalists a real-time look into the thoughts and opinions of people on current events and trending issues.
Finding sources and gauging public opinion are two great uses of social media tools; however do these tactics influence the news too much and prevent journalists from getting at the straight facts? Blogging and social media have essentially given everyone the ability to publish. So, journalists, in order to stay above the general ability of the public, will need to better source their information and develop interesting angles, as only they, as experts, can.
What other ways do you see social media transforming journalism or helping it evolve?