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Digital News: Pros and Cons

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In this modern technological age, the world is at our fingertips. No longer do people dive their noses into large copies of the daily news while eating breakfast. Instead, news is read on phones and other mobile devices on the bus or train to work, at the grocery store, even while walking the dog. Any news is sent directly to hand-held devices in a matter of seconds, notifying the world of breaking news that used to be published in the next morning’s newspaper.

Though benefits come from convenient 24/7 news, should people be concerned at all of any downsides? What are the possible consequences of social media integration in news distribution?

Redefining and Downsizing Jobs

Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism found that between 2006 and 2011, the number of people who preferred reading the newspaper dropped by 12% due to the increasing popularity of online news, according to a 2011 article by Mashable. With the decreasing popularity of printed news, traditional newspapers are losing value.

According to the Harvard Political Review, the overall revenue of the newspaper industry dropped 2.6% in 2013 alone. Billions of dollars are being lost each year because of the decreasing number of ads and sponsors that companies are able to attract.

To sustain business, many journalists have been let go by print newspapers. Between the years 2006 and 2012, job cuts added onto the decrease of 17,000 active journalists. The American Society of News Editors reported that in the past decade 30% of print journalism jobs have been lost, according to Poynter. The first to lose their jobs were senior writers with high salaries, and they were replaced with less experienced reporters.

Pew State of News Media 2014 reported that during the decade where a large chunk of print journalism jobs were lost, almost 5,000 online news reporting jobs were created. Most of these jobs required journalists to be able to independently develop a story from start to finish rather than specializing in one field.

According to Poynter, the State of Journalism Education 2013 found that 57% of active journalists do not believe that a journalism degree in college is important. Alternative degrees that relate to technology and social media are more helpful than a traditional journalism education in the digital news publication age.

News Content and Subjects

Many newspapers now have online presence to catch up to Internet tycoons such as BuzzFeed. They rely heavily on social media as an important resource to connect with millions of people at once. Articles are posted and promoted on popular social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to attract attention. In turn, people are able to share the articles they enjoy reading with their friends and followers, bringing more traffic to the company’s website. Harvard Political Review said that USA Today specifically hires young journalists who understand how to use social media.

To attract more readers and widen their audience, some companies are telling their journalists to write short articles that follow with current trends, according to Harvard Political Review. In these cases, reports on celebrities are given the same importance as what are considered traditional newsworthy stories.

Credibility and Accuracy

Credibility is another issue that online newspapers are facing. The old saying of “don’t believe everything online” still holds true today and news is no exception. With physical newspapers, articles can be proofread through and through until the set time for publication. When publishing in the digital world, there’s no set time when a story must be published. With a few clicks, an article goes live in minutes.

There’s also a level of competition concerning speed among newspapers. To be the first to publish breaking-news, some companies are willing to risk accuracy. Now more than ever, the race-against-time mindset is making immediate stories more prone to contain incorrect information and other mistakes.

This was evident during the Boston Bombings that occurred in 2013. An article from “The Huffington Post” noted that because of the continuous stream of new information that was becoming known about the Boston Marathon, all mediums—newspapers, online news sources, and television to list a few—delivered incorrect information. Moreover, aside from broadcast news, there was more misleading information online than on any other communication method because of the impact of social media.

Deciphering posts and determining the validity of resources are both important factors while making the most out of social media, but materials posted online always possess the possibility of being false or incorrectly analyzed. In the case of the reports of the Boston Bombings, “The Huffington Post” said that many news companies, including their own, made mistakes because of their reliance on incorrect information presented on social media.

SOURCES

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/09/24/how-social-media-is-reshaping-news/ http://www.poynter.org/2014/journalism-needs-the-right-skills-to-survive/246563/ http://mashable.com/2011/03/14/online-versus-newspaper-news/#ncqR34HtZkq1 http://mashable.com/2010/07/22/internet-journalism-survey/#ncqR34HtZkq1 http://harvardpolitics.com/covers/future-print-newspapers-struggle-survive-age-technology/ http://techin.oureverydaylife.com/advantages-disadvantages-internet-newspaper-advertising-1650.html https://www.college.columbia.edu/academics/integrity-sourcecredibility http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/22/boston-bombings-media-mistakes_n_3135105.html

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Da-Eun (Kathy) Jung is a senior at Gilmour Academy and lives in Jeonju, North Jeolla, South Korea with her family. This is her third year writing for The Lance and is the Editor-in-Chief. Outside of the classroom, Kathy writes for The Mill, the city of Gates Mills’ monthly magazine. Kathy enjoys writing editorials and feature stories for both The Mill and The Lance. She is involved in the VECTOR Program in the Creativity and Expression branch and volunteers at the Holden Arboretum in her free time. Her favorite class is AP Literature & Composition and wants to study communication in college. Read Kathy’s articles below, and contact her at gilmourlance.org.

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