Trevor Toczydlowski

Tracking the shift in forms of consumed media

Nowadays we often hear that the media is full of fake news and is slowly dying. Dying, however, is a misleading term in this scenario. While traditional media outlets and mediums are less popular now than they were before, they still have a strong and passionate user base.

Local TV news, which was a staple in my household growing up, is down in all major time slots. The morning news slot has dropped off the most falling 15 percent from where it was in 2017 according to the Pew Research Center. Whereas before when people would dedicate a certain part of their day to receiving news, now people have a constant flow of news available to them at all times.

The growth of digital news has led anyone to be able to consume news whenever the user wants to. In 2017, there was an average of 21 million unique visitors to digital news sites each month. That represents a five percent decline in average monthly visitors from 2016. These digital-native news outlets also use many other methods to provide content to their users.

According to recent Pew Research Center data, 86 percent have their content on Apple News, 71 percent have podcasts, and 63 percent allow user feedback in the form of comments on their articles. These digital-native news outlets also have strong presences on social media. Of the 35 outlets looked at by Pew for this research, all of them had a Facebook and Twitter page, while 94 percent had a YouTube channel and 89 percent had an official Instagram page.

Having a social media presence is crucial, especially for digital-native news organizations because their audience is already on the internet. Having additional online methods of reaching their viewer base will strengthen the current consumers they already have and give them easy access to new consumers as well.

Podcasts and other online radio services are among the fastest growing forms of media. Forty-four percent of people polled have ever listened to a podcast, up from just 11 percent when Pew first polled podcast listenership in 2006. That includes 26 percent who have listened to one in the past month and 17 percent who have listened in the past week.

I think much of the growth in podcasts is the relative ease for anyone to put one out, and the wide range of topics that people are interested in hearing a podcast about. Although many traditional news outlets have podcasts as well, many different topics can be found for nearly any audience. NPR’s podcast has been steadily growing since it started in 2014. In 2017 they averaged 5.4 million weekly downloads of their podcast, up from 2 million in 2014.

So, while not all media is growing, the idea that media is dying simply isn’t true. People may be using new methods to get their news, but each new method isn’t replacing the old ones. The new media outlets are simply making it easier for everyone to be able to access the news. You no longer have to be in front of your television at 6 p.m. or subscribed to a newspaper to find out what is happening in the world.

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