A Portrait of the American Media Landscape

Media Landscape

By Alexa Jobe

There is no denying the utility of modern technology. Due to the emergence and now-widespread use of the smartphone, millions of Americans may take photos, make phone calls, send text messages and emails, update their Facebook statuses, and even watch movies — all on one device.

One more thing smartphone users may do with their phones is check the news. This new advancement in technology is significantly impacting news consumption, and changing the media landscape.

A century ago, if a person wanted to access the news, he or she would have had to pick up a newspaper and read it. There were many different businesses and companies that produced newspapers, from the average small-town press, to the renowned New York Times. Because this was the most accessible method of news consumption, newspaper companies profited and thrived.

As time progressed, new technology emerged; first, the radio, on which Americans could tune in to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “fireside chats” each evening. At this point, news consumption shifted from visual (reading newspapers) to auditory (listening to radio). Then came television, which combined visual and auditory elements to create a whole new experience for news consumers, and has remained the most popular method of news consumption for decades. However, in more recent years, a more interactive, customizable, and affordable method of news consumption and distribution has come forth: the World Wide Web.

Of course, other forms of media have not been rendered entirely obsolete. According to a 2008 report by the Pew Research Center for People & The Press, 46% of Americans rely more heavily on newspapers, radio, and television than they do on the Internet, when it comes to accessing news. The report also found that another 23% of Americans use the aforementioned media to access news as well, but do so on the Internet occasionally. In fact, just 13% of Americans use the Internet as their primary source of news. These are the youngest news consumers, however, which may have a significant impact on the future of journalism.

In a perfect world, a person could access any news they wanted at no monetary cost, and the news companies and journalists producing this news would still make a living working in the information industry. Unfortunately, this is next to impossible, and the result of free, easily-accessed news media has caused businesses to frantically struggle to keep up. Many have opted to create websites that have ads in order to maintain their relevance while also staying financially afloat. Others have changed the way they write headlines, or the content which they cover. “Clickbait”, defined on dictionary.com as “content, especially that of a sensational or provocative nature, whose main purpose is to attract attention and draw visitors to a particular web page,” is the new “yellow journalism”, and it is next to impossible to log on to any social media platform without seeing some form of it plaguing one’s feed.

This may not be enough. Many news companies simply cannot make an adequate amount of money to pay their journalists, due to the emergence of the Internet and the widespread use of the smartphone (on which the Internet is accessible at any given moment). The future of journalism is uncertain. It may actually be worth it to darken our fingertips with newspaper ink from time to time, just to support those who make a living off news of substance. “19 Absolutely Stunning Make-Up Looks To Try This Autumn” can wait.

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