The Changing Face of News and Journalism

Andrew Marr, formerly the BBC’s Political Editor, has written a series of articles on the changing face of news and journalism in an era of technological change.

In the first, End of the News Romantics, he comments how he always thought he’d be a true newspaper and newscast kind of guy but in fact he’s embracing the new technology of tablets and phones.  He says, “A few years ago, I was shaking my head and saying I thought I’d had the best of times for journalism, and wouldn’t want my children to join the trade. No longer. I’d like to be 20 and starting out again right now.

In the second, A New Journalism on the Horizon, he talks in a little bit more detail about the media revolution, where he discusses the future of journalism in the age of new media.  He starts out from the recent revelations that (a) the estimated readership of the The Times Online has dropped by 90% since the introduction of the paywall and (b) e-books are outstripping hardbacks on Amazon, and how these facts seem to be contra-indications.

He puts forwards two points, the first being that the notion of not paying for news seems to be somewhat strange.  People pay for DVDs, magazines, TV channels, mobile apps, e-books, so why not news?  Although he’d be happy to pay, he wants to be able to pick and choose – politics but not fashion, business but not crime – so he feels the proposition will need to be refined.

The second point is that there will undoubtedly be consolidation in the market for general news or the news of the day.  But he believes that underneath this will be specialist news organisations that deal in particular sectors of the market, such as automotive, enviromental, foreign countries.  This will be where the real knowledge and understanding will be.

As ever, it’s hard to gaze into the crystal ball and predict the future.  From my previous posts, you’ll know that I think we have to start paying for news if we want quality journalism to continue.  As to the second point, of  specialised news organisations, I think he’s right.  Imagine CNN or the BBC no longer having a technology correspondent and outsourcing that to Engadget or Gizmodo.  Or business news provided by the Economist. It’s not a hard stretch of the imagination to see that coming.

What do you think?  Will the news organisations of today simply become aggregators?

3 thoughts on “The Changing Face of News and Journalism

  1. Andrew Marr has a good point regarding people buying more e-books on Amazon than real physical books.

    Does that not indicate that people are willing to pay for good content?

    I contend that it does. E-books worth paying for are concentrated information al a carte. The traditional newspaper is akin to cable channel bundling — make newspaper buyers pay for a lot of content they have absolutely no interest in the same way cable bundles a bunch of channels together.

    In an ever faster-paced world with increasingly redefined and ever more sophisticated choices, the information publishers that get the formula right will reap the benefits.

  2. One point : people NEVER really paid for “news” but for what news were in, that is the paper.

    Today people KEEPS on paying for what news is in, that is the computers and the distribution (broadband) fee.

    The main problem is that today the container has become a one-shot universal purchase, decoupled from the content.

    So the real question is : will people EVER pay for content ?

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