The common them around the decline of the news media industry is that it is the result of the Internet. However, it wasn’t the Internet that started the decline of the news media, rather the decline of news started when advertising revenues started to dictate what was newsworthy and what wasn’t. Many of you know that I am extremely critical of the work product produced by the news outlets in El Paso. Unfortunately, it is not just El Paso news outlets but news outlets in general that continue to decline. The news outlets continually argue that the newsrooms are declining because people aren’t paying for advertising through traditional platforms. They are right but for the wrong reasons.
It isn’t the Internet that is causing the decline of the news but rather the Internet has exposed the fundamental reasons the news has been steadily declining. There have always been citizen reporters criticizing the news product and trying to fill the void through amateur reporting. It wasn’t the Internet that created them it just exposed them to a larger audience. The fundamental reason the news continues to decline is their reliance on advertising fees to pay for the news. Advertisers took the control of the news away from the newsroom and vested it upon themselves.
I am a capitalist and therefore wholeheartedly support the notion that consumers should pay a fee for what they consume. The fee is set by the producer that can produce the best product for the lowest price. Unfortunately, the consumers for the news outlets are not those who digest the work product but rather the advertiser that advertises on the news outlet. It is the advertiser that determines what is newsworthy and isn’t.
I realize that many news people reading this are having major conniption fits right about now. Take a deep breath and continue reading with an open mind.
The issue for the news is not the product produced by the reporters but rather the product that is allowed to be released to the consumer. Many will argue that the newsrooms are not influenced by what the advertisers want. However, there is enough dissatisfaction with news outlets over a large spectrum of the community that to blame the decline of the news on the Internet is over simplistic and ignores the reality of why news has declined.
Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to this dilemma because the reality is that the consumers share some of the blame as well. Consumers have grown accustomed to free on demand, instant news delivered to their connected devices. Consumers do not realize that there is a cost involved in delivering the news to them.
A well-researched in depth news article requires time to compile and prepare. Time is the largest expense for the news outlet because it translates into the labor costs associated with the reporter. Reporters able to understand, research and present the news item rightfully should be paid well for the work that they do. However, today’s newsrooms don’t want a reporter working on one piece over a week, or more, they want a reporter producing at least one, or more pieces daily on a tight schedule along with regular Twitter updates and posts on the outlet’s online platforms. As a result, the news product suffers.
Now add to that mix an advertiser that threatens to pull much needed advertising dollars because a reporter is getting too nosy for their taste and you can clearly see where the problem lies. What about non-profit news outlets? Aren’t they an option?
Non-profit news outlets just replace the advertiser with a donor. The donor dictates what can be published and what can’t. Don’t think so?
Just go to my blog post “Newspaper Tree: The propaganda machine for the cabal” to see how Debbie Nathan was fired from the Newspaper Tree because she was working on a piece that seemed to be detrimental to one of the largest donors? Nathan, herself, explains how the donor dictated what was to be written.
Is there any chance the news would ever serve the needs of the consumers?
As I see it, two things need to happen in order for the news to become relevant to the consumers – remove the over reliance on advertisers and have consumers understand that there is a cost to providing good news reporting. But you can’t take the advertisers out of the equation many of you are collectively proclaiming because there is no other revenue source.
The key are the consumers. Once the consumers understand that news is not free and become invested in the product the news quality would dramatically increase. The business model is proven everyday with the millions in quality goods that are sold each day. Of course, there are consumers always looking for knockoffs but there are always consumers looking for a quality product. Notice how long Rolex and Coach have stayed in business? Consumers will pay if they are convinced the product is worthy of the price.
It is the consumer that is looking for quality that will ultimately determine whether news will ever become relevant again.