Jerry Liu

Traditional News Media Facing a Digital Transition

pj_2016-06-15_state-of-the-news-media_overview-011By Jerry Liu

During the era of internet and social media, traditional media are facing the most challenging period of time in the history of media. Before internet becoming a part of people’s life, news organizations largely controlled the news products and services form beginning to end, according to Pew Research Center. The invention of internet and smart phone changed the story dramatically. The technology companies gradually controlled the pathways of distribution for news stories in the form of search engines, email, and social media outlets, etc.

As we can see from the chart above, only prime-time news from cable TV and evening news from network TV have an increasing viewership trend from 2014 to 2015. The audience migration from traditional news media to digital news media is becoming an inevitable trend. But what leads to that?

I think there are four main reasons. First of all, social media focuses more on interactions. People can show their opinions or ideas through commenting on different posts. This helps people express themselves instantly as the news happening which is really difficult for traditional media to do.

Furthermore, social media personalizes audience’s experience. People can get access to different news contents whenever and wherever they want. They could specialize their news stories as their preferences by subscribing to various news sources. Thirdly, social media brings news events more timely to their audience. People just need to set up a push notification and then it will pop up if news happening.

Last but not least, social media is not the privilege of young people any more. It reaches the majority of U.S. adults. According to Pew Research Center, fully 62% of U.S. adults overall get news on social media sites now. On the other hand, one-in-seven Americans have turned away from cable or satellite TV subscriptions mainly because there are tons of online video streaming available nowadays.

In recent years, traditional media all over the world are striving for innovation and reform. They are trying to transform their contents to digital media settings and increase audience engagement. Perhaps newspaper is the most difficult one during digital transition. According to Pew Research Center, average weekday newspaper circulation, print and digital combined, fell another 7% in 2015, the greatest decline since 2010.

Nowadays, many newspaper organizations have their own websites however, they are not utilizing the social media platform well enough. First, they have to make their website mobile and tablet compatible and make users easily share the news stories on Facebook, Twitter, or other social media.

Secondly, creating a mobile application is a boost for the recognition of traditional news organization because viewers would like to see all the videos, photos and articles related to a news story. In another word, the key is to enrich the multi-media platform as much as possible. More importantly, traditional media always has an advantage to find prestigious people in particular fields. One way to attract audience is to set up an online discussion forum and create an opportunity for people to communicate with different prestigious people from various areas, in either written or the most popular live streaming formats.

In conclusion, the future of the news media will largely depend on the relationship between news organizations and technology companies. Although there will be a lot of competition and conflict, their ultimate goal is the same: bringing the news live for all the audience.

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