It’s obvious journalism is heading in a new direction, but are some ideas for the better or for the worse?
USA Today came out over a year ago saying that they would consider paying their journalists based on the amount of hits their stories received.
This immediately brings up a couple questions:
– How would this affect the advertisement associated with the content?
– And behind the scenes, how would this affect the motivation of writers to produce hard-hitting news stories vs sensationalized content?
To adress the first point, according to Pew Internet’s excerpts from “The State of the News Media”in 2010, ” [advertisement] revenues to fall 4.6% in 2009 to $22.4 billion, down from $23.4 billion in 2008.”
When websites see that their advertisement revenues are dropping could they possibly become desperate and seek out more appealing and potentially risque ads?
Remember, although a website cannot control every single advertisement, they can control the content of that advertisement. For example, if you are on New York Times‘ website you immediately notice the old newspaper style font and professional, plain layout. They frequently run bank and clothing ads, as opposed to pornography. Imagine if the New York Times had to worry about losing money in ads, how would a reader feel if they were searching for hard-hitting news but were too distracted by all of the racy advertisements that surrounded the content? The answer is that they would come away with a negative feeling in stomachs and then negatively associate the website with the content of the ad if they chose to do so. Therefore, advertisements can be very negatively affected by the shift in the news media.
As far as the motivation of Internet writers, it is foreseeable that if writers had no motivation as the quality of the stories would decrease, the quantity would increase.
If writers pumped out multiple stories daily with TMZ, where would that leave quality journalism?
If writers leaned towards eye-popping headlines with minimal fact checking as opposed to factual stories, quality journalism may be lost forever. Legitimate journalists need to be compensated for doing a good job and reporting the truth, but if companies told them “We only care about hits,” serious problems could arise. Therefore, if this aspect of the direction journalism is moving in is certainly negative, and will not benefit the progress of anything except the promotion of Yellow Journalism tactics of the twentieth century.