Future of Print Media Journalism

Posted on August 23, 2015 09:09 am

My mother once told me that wealth is not a measure of success.Success in her own definition is achieving the state of happiness in whatever you do.That has not been the case with members of the fourth estate this year as the powerful and mighty folks are working tirelessly to frustrate their efforts and tens of them are losing lives every year.The latest one being South Sudan’s Peter Moi who was shirt dead this past week.It’s time for journalists to reflect once again as the world become hostile to their work. And just like the case in South Sudan, once again their thoughts will be tinged with apprehension. In several countries, it has been the classic elements of their work that always come under threat, the necessity to be the first to get quotes, photos and backgrounds for stories has fallen to the growing army of quick-fire online social media users.No doubt the social media platforms have empowered their users to think and analyse, adding even more intrigue to the question of where traditional journalism future will be like. Whatever the direction, there’s still a long journey ahead. Online networks are full of hearsay, distortions and blatant lies that has made journalists’ duty of protecting the facts even more important.Thats why mainstream media will remain relevant for a very long time especially Print Media industry.On the good side, the social media can be “self-policing”, with knowledgeable users quickly exposing misinformation and fabrications to the light of truth.

Social media users are also getting better at simplifying complexities and analysing difficult situations. I have seen cases where Print media should be worried about most is social media ability to boil down complex stories into simple and easily digestible nuggets, as when complicated matters must be explained to a girlfriend or boyfriend. Sadly for the Print media, that’s the way most people prefer to get their news.While Zimbabwe’s Cecil The Lion crisis has done terrible damage to the country, it has also prompted a rise in the use of the social media, highlighted their importance and enabled people on both sides to take a more active role in protecting endangered animals in Africa. Importantly, the social media have provided access to information that has enabled citizens to think on their themselves. The analytical skills demonstrated by online users of Hashtag #Cecilthelion are certainly giving mainstream journalists cause for pause.In the past,Contador Harrison’s of this world read newspapers, listened to Radio or watched TV to passively receive the news.However, ability to double-check the facts has now made that less necessary. Now we read newspapers and watch TV to see if our opinions or analyses match ours. A freshly graduated political scientist can quickly become an expert pundit by smart use of the social media or a just chef with home based training can become Internet chef trainer.

At present the relationship between the Print Media and social media is mutually beneficial. The flow of information is largely two-way. A newspaper Journalist can glean breaking news from a Police source, but it might be an “analyst” in the social media who points out how important the news is, sparking online community research that pours further light on security developments.Have been wondering how exactly should Print journalism evolve in an era when, for instance, a freelancing blogger can comprehensively and immediately cover a research breakthrough? The challenge might not seem urgent to Print journalists, given that the blog receives no advertising revenue and the substance of its report will be in the newspapers and on TV soon enough. But that state of affairs might not last for long and future of Print media is at stake.The truth is that the flow of advertising money, which is key to mainstream Print journalism’s survival, is becoming more unpredictable.Newspapers and magazines are folding or being taken over not because of declining standards, but because consumers are getting smarter. First they were smart enough to obtain free information and learn to sift fact from fiction. Now, more and more are becoming smart enough to analyse the facts by themselves.I have witnessed the mainstream Print Media and social media working ever closer together but, if fact-finding and analysis are the backbone of Print journalism, its future evolution could involve more than the present close relationship with the social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and others.

Contador Harrison