Allia Mcdowell

Media: A demand for on-demand

Credit: Journalism by Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0 ImageCreator

When I tell people I am studying journalism, I am often met with surprise and sarcasm. In their eyes, the importance of journalism and media is fleeting – because, in their eyes, journalism is synonymous with “fake news” and social media. This only feeds my passion more, however, because I know that strong journalism is more important now than it ever was.

Don’t get me wrong, I know that the world of media is changing rapidly, and that means I may be entering a field that behaves entirely different from what I expected when I declared my major a few years ago. That mystery – the idea that I will get to be a part of something new, something unique – is part of the reason I have stayed committed to this goal.

We cannot listen to people who say journalism is dead. Journalism is more alive than it has ever been and, without it, this world would look a lot different. In reading the Pew Research Center fact sheets on the “State of the News Media,” I gained a deeper understanding of how media is adapting.

One of the key things I noticed in the research was the rise in audio consumption. From the “Audio and Podcasting Fact Sheet,” the Pew Research Center states that “online radio and podcasting audiences have continued to grow over the past decade.” There is no disputing the fact that podcasts have truly taken over as one of the main information sources in today’s society. From breaking news, to crime, to romance, to self-help (and everything in-between), there are podcasts to match any listener’s taste. Major news outlets have also seized this opportunity with reporters starting their own podcasts and increasingly using audio to supplement stories. Online radio, too, has risen – especially as people access online radio from their phones. This increase in audio media consumption is one of the most notable, as most all other forms of media consumption are beginning to decline or barely holding steady.

Both podcasts and online radio are similar in that they can be consumed on-demand. This accessibility to information, at the click of a button, is one of the most significant attributes of today’s media. We live in a busy, multi-tasking world. The days of sitting down to read a newspaper are over. Instead, we want to be able to text our friends, answer emails, and navigate public transportation, all the while having news blast through our headphones.

According to the “Digital News Fact Sheet,” “In the U.S., roughly nine-in-ten adults (93%) get at least some news online (either via mobile or desktop).” As people consume their news online, there is a call for a system to help readers truly understand the material. With social media becoming a source of news for some people, the opportunity for misunderstanding, and the spread of misinformation, increases.

This is not the fault of the journalists, whose opinion stories are being labeled as fact; or the consumers who don’t think to dig beyond the surface level to seek out the truth. Rather, this is a side-effect of entering a new chapter in how media is consumed. The sooner someone can step up and find a way to label stories so the average reader can understand its nature, the closer we will get to restoring the reliability of journalism in the public eye.

I am proud to be a budding journalist preparing to enter this new landscape. As the demands of the public change, so must we adapt to the new challenges presented. Good, honest, unbiased journalism will always be important.

In the U.S., we are lucky to have freedom of the press built into the foundation of our democracy. Many parts of the world are not nearly this lucky. It is our job to fight to maintain this right – truth is power, and journalists are armed with the gift of explaining the truth to anyone willing to listen. I am proud to be pursuing a life in this new media landscape, and I see the changes as opportunity.

Without change we cannot innovate, and without innovation we will never move forward.

5 thoughts on “Media: A demand for on-demand

  1. I like your point on how people now have an expectation that content should be on-demand, something that can be consumed quickly and while we’re busy living our lives , which is part of the reason podcasting is so popular. I’ve never thought about podcasts or journalism in that way. I wonder if there is a way to mimic the podcasting model for written topics so it can seamlessly fit into people’s lives and routines the way podcasting does, instead of requiring people to stop what they’re doing to read a newspaper.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I really like your article. It’s thoughtful and well-written. I was actually surprised by how people would react when they know you are in journalism. People around me would act the opposite when I was in China. I agree with you that podcast and radio are popular in society now because people just don’t have time for newspaper. Besides visual communication has been a trend 10 years ago. Listening and watching seemed more fun than reading a newspaper. But at the same time, I can’t imagine we don’t see newspaper at all in life. Even it might happen one day, I wish we can still save sometime to read something, even just a book.

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  3. I feel similarly. While most people have been supportive of my career choice when it’s brought up to them, their behavior outside of directly addressing turns pretty ugly in the direction of other journalists because they believe every one of us are involved in some vast, fake news conspiracy theory.

    You bring up a great point in that while consumption is up in general, some people are getting their information out of context, or worse, just plain bad information. Too many people in the digital age, all content looks the same and is, in their mind, created equal. I think we’re all working toward a solution, and it has gotten better, but I think the bitter taste of the early days of digital media is going to be in many consumers mouths for a long time.

    That being said, I am totally along for the ride with you to see how this all plays out and evolves.

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  4. I very much agree with your points about podcasting. In my mind, I feel like podcasting is just as big as when the radio was invented. The only difference is, before, you sat in front of your fireplace, now you can take it anywhere you want to go. I really feel that podcasting is going to be one of the biggest media waves that comes. It’s ironic because I remember when I got my first iPod touch, I went to the podcasting app and tried to delete it. I thought to myself that no one would ever listen to a podcast. Now, here I am and I have like 4-5 downloaded on my phone.

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  5. The fact that you get that reaction when you tell people your major makes me happy. I think all Journalism majors get some sort of interesting response when this conversation comes up. For me, it’s when people ask where I’m going to work after graduation. They clearly don’t know about this field, because if they did, they would already know that my answer would be… “I have no idea.” It’s just how it is, this industry is confusing and all over the place. People entering the industry have no idea what they are getting themselves into, myself included. But that’s just what we agree on when we sign our name on that dotted line. I like how you said that the research helped you gain some knowledge about the world of media, but you still understand that this field is ever-changing and confusing. So yes, ignore when they said journalism is dead. Correct them and say it’s not dead, it’s just weird.

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