As of October 2009, 70% of Americans felt as though the media was out of touch with the general public. When mainstream news outlets focus on the political circus 24/7 and forget everything else that is happening in local communities and abroad, it shouldn’t surprise anyone to see the confidence level of journalists on par with Congress. I mean, most news outlets are the lap dogs of the government and corporate America, so it’s not surprising to see them parallel in confidence from the public.
If you didn’t already know, journalism sucks right now. Let me tell you a bit of why it sucks… it’s been corrupted. It’s been corrupted because most of the traditional news outlets have been run by corporations and their profits have been left in the hands of Wall Street-esque gamblers. From the Gannet News Company to the Chicago Tribune, the nation has been forced to see the decline of the news industry.
No longer is the news about reporting the truth, telling the many sides of an issue and informing the general public so that they may be self-governing. Now the news is about increasing profits for Wall Street, leaving newspaper companies in the hands on gamblers who don’t know a thing about the profession and making sure CEOs of a large collection of papers get their bonuses and salaries increased while they invest in bogus ideas and lay-off thousands of hard-working and qualified journalists who just want to do their job and get paid fairly.
Sam Zell, the owner of the Chicago Tribune Co. is a joke. He is a businessman, not a journalist. He should have stuck with selling season tickets for Cubs’ games instead of trying to interject himself in a profession he has no business bothering. From using foul and inappropriate language in newsrooms to hiring Randy Michaels that asked a waiter to expose her breasts to him and other colleagues for $100, it’s almost unbelievable to come to terms with what has happened to some of the most prestigious papers.
The bottom line is well… the bottom line. That’s what journalism is about nowadays. Is it really that difficult to find revenue and to boost the profession? There’s this little social media website called Youtube. On that website you can upload newscasts and have people watch them on their own time. This helps to address the issue of the 24-hour news cycle and the fact that people have little time to watch news during the set times of 8 a.m., 5 p.m. and 10 pm.
Now I know the business heads will like this idea coming up. Youtube allows for you to bring in advertising sales depending on the amount of traffic you get. If you report on real news and involve the consumers of news, they will reward you with traffic and advertisers will reward you with money. Just take a look at the successful Internet news broadcasts of The Alyona Show and The Young Turks.
Now I know some people may say, “That’s broadcast, not print.” Well, I would respond by saying that the profession has changed. People want a multimedia experience when they consume news. If you don’t have video clips, sound clips, a written story and pictures, then people won’t bother to visit you. I mean, this is 2011…
And lastly, news isn’t about having consumers find the news, it’s about having the news find them. People are much more niche-oriented these days. They want to consume what interests them and that is usually a narrow bunch of topics. That’s why people use RSS feeds and social networking sites. They want to go to one place and have multiple news sources come to them. Nobody surfs the web for news anymore.
We as journalists should recognize that today’s successful news outlets search for their consumers. The sooner we realize that, the better. Meanwhile, we can keep hiring, paying millions to and firing wealthy CEOs, but that won’t repair the damage journalism has already done to itself.