Blog Journalism JRNL102

How Media Outlets Are Adapting to the Internet

The internet creates a competitive and oversaturated market of media and journalism. This forces media outlets to innovate in order to engage both new and old audiences. 

One example of this change can be seen through The New York Times. Since being founded in 1851, the broadsheet has won 127 Pulitzer Prizes; however, no matter the prestige, the paper isn’t immune to the problems facing print journalism

It’s never been easier to be a journalist. Homegrown reporters use their iPhones to capture major events and anyone can be a political commentator, especially on platforms like Twitter. It’s safe to say that the internet has well and truly democratised the spread of information. 

The paywall pop-up

In 2016, The New York Times instituted a paywall, attempting to recoup costs of going online. Their system works up until the point where the audience members willing to pay reaches a plateau. A paywall goes against democratisation because it creates elitism in who can access the information. 

In response to this flood of knowledge and voices, some have been asking the question: is journalism dying? 

The answer to this is complex. Every journalist will tell you something different. For the sake of simplicity, the best way to view the issue is to acknowledge that journalism isn’t dying–it’s changing. 

Vincent Filak writes, “simply because something was ‘liked’ or ‘retweeted’ a billion times does not make it a journalistically solid piece of information” (2014). However, being validated on social media does go a long way to surviving as a journalist.

In order to thrive, a journalist must be willing to compromise. They need to keep dignity and ethics intact but also embrace newer methods of communication. This attention to detail requires a lot of funding and with the free nature of the internet, it makes it hard to maintain integrity. 

In an attempt to keep up with other online media outlets, The Times puts out YouTube videos featuring mini-documentaries and other more mainstream orientated pieces. 

While their highest videos boast views in the millions, their less popular but more numerous uploads only reach into the tens of thousands. 

The YouTube algorithm could be partly to blame for their lack of traction. Their content might also be less apt at pinpointing what YouTube’s audiences want.  

The New York Times could keep improving if it focused more on social media interconnection. The website doesn’t include any obvious links on its main page. It’s only some stories that provide links.

The Russian Left Behind exemplifies the innovative journalism that The New York Times prioritises. It uses interactive elements, videos and text. However, the only indicators of social media appear in the top right-hand corner, greyed out. 

The New York Times creates high-quality journalism and boasts prestige but without the backing of social media across all platforms, the media outlet cuts itself off from a whole new generation.

Filak, VF (ed.) 2014, Convergent Journalism: An Introduction, Taylor & Francis Group, Oxford. Available from: ProQuest Ebook Central. [1 November 2019].

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