NOV. 18, 2017



The Newspaper Industry...(cont.)

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On the opposite end, liberal news outlets develop editorial content to their left-leaning audience. The result, unintended or not, has intensified an environment of epic division among Americans. Whether the driver of the train (news outlet) is responsible for the train’s direction or the driver is simply following the course mapped out for it (by popular opinion) is debatable. But it’s undeniable that color journalism is at least facilitating societal trends and how Americans view each other.

Ethnic Media and Advocacy Journalism

While it’s debatable if ethnic media fall under the umbrella of color journalism, it is similar in its clear advocacy approach on certain issues such as immigration and editorially targeting a niche audience (immigrants). It’s arguable that since ethnic media have been doing niche news targeting for a longer time, it is the reason why it is the only segment of the print news industry that hasn’t seen a decline in business and remains fairly stable. The ethnic media’s core base has been proven to be among the most loyal. In some cases, specifically the Hispanic news industry, ethnic media continue to experience remarkable growth in TV, Internet and even traditional newspapers.

Anna Davide of Mililani, a student who gets her news from daily and weekly podcasts -- such as NPR Politics, BBC World Service, and Ben Shapiro -- and social media and phone updates, said of the ethnic media, “Ethnic newspapers finger the pulse of minority communities. The content of ethnic newspapers is always important and always matter to its audience. Readers can personally connect with the journalist reporting, or may even know the subjects of the articles. Ethnic papers help to cultivate the communities they are written about and inform to their specific needs.”

She adds, “To me ethnic newspapers connect me to my heritage, exposing the unique attitudes and intelligence of my people. Ethnic newspapers help me to feel a part of the community I grew up in, and help make me feel like a more complete Filipino. Being raised in a culture away from its homeland, these are the simple things that help bridge the experience of being an informed American to an informed Filipino.”

Bernales sees the business aspect of the ethnic media. “Ethnic media have as a niche audience that seem to be recession proof.  While there is a decline in mainstream media readership, ethnic media are up 16% since 2005.

“Ethnic newspapers are important to me because they give me the opportunity to stay connected with my country. Ethnic newspapers in general have a special trusting relationship with their audiences because they have a unique purpose in the community they serve.  They provide to readers valuable, pertinent information and resources available from the host country and help to bond readers with their homelands.”

As an immigrant, Bernales said “being connected with folks back home validates your own existence; successes and struggles.  The ethnic media also serve as the voice of those disenfranchised via opinions and advocacy. Mainstream newspapers reach out to ethnic media when they need real-time news. While concerns of ethnic groups about their host country are not fully addressed in major newspapers, ethnic newspapers write articles, opinions, advice on matters that directly affect them such as the economy, cost of living, immigration, citizenship, health insurance, jobs, schools, food, restaurants, real estate, customs and traditions, social and cultural events, etc.  Thus, ethnic newspapers are an important tool for their readers to seek better opportunities for themselves and their loved ones.”

Tech Giants Influence on News               

If newspapers have yet to see handsome returns on their Internet investments, where is the money being made on the web? Total digital ad spending grew another 20 percent in 2015 to about $60 billion, a higher growth rate than in 2013 and 2014. The big digital ad winners are not journalism organizations, but 65 percent of the revenue pie is gobbled up by tech companies, including Facebook, Google, Yahoo and Twitter.

These companies not only integrate news into their web offerings, but are also impacting news content as well that is yet again reshaping the face of traditional journalism in yet another way.

By controlling search engines, ad networks, trending topics and algorithms, giant tech companies have tremendous influence on news content. In the predigital era, newspapers controlled the news products from original reporting, production, editorial selection, packaging and delivery. Tech companies that have their own agenda are now having considerable influence on packaging and delivery of news that over time could even influence newspapers’ editorial selection and reporting.

In other words, if the channels of news distribution are largely controlled by giant tech companies, they ultimately could influence newspapers in a tug-and-pull relationship and further shape standards of traditional journalism.

Fake News

An example of giant tech companies effect on journalism is the proliferation of fake news that is made possible because of giant tech companies’ lack of screening of news feeds.

Di Zhang, who teaches a class at the University of Washington on fake news, said “We are all empowered now to create (news) content.” Through everyone’s ability to share news on social media platforms or to outright circulate whatever content the user wants on social media, it’s no wonder why fake news is becoming increasingly popular.

Zhang released stats on her findings of fake news: “Two in five people get all their news online, where fake news is most prevalent; 23 percent report having shared made-up news stories; 59 percent of links on Twitter are shared unread and unviewed by the person sharing them; and 64 percent of adults say fake news causes confusion about current issues and events.”

Zhang said, “Usually there’s a moneymaking scheme behind fake news stories.”

But money isn’t the only motivation. The biggest politically motivated and most bizarre example of fake news was “Pizza-gate.” During the last presidential election season, there was a conspiracy theory being floated around the Internet that Hilary Clinton was involved in running a child sex ring operation at a pizza restaurant where children were being held captive in underground tunnels inside the store. As absurd as the fictitious news is, a man armed with an assault rifle walked into a pizza shop in Washington, DC, allegedly wanting to “self-investigate” the conspiracy theory. This created a scare at the Comet Ping Pong pizza restaurant where the man did his investigating, of course, to find nothing in the end.

James Aleantis, owner of the restaurant, told The Washington Post, “What happened demonstrates that promoting false and reckless conspiracy theories (or fake news) comes with (real) consequences.”

To maintain some sort of circulating news credibility, tech companies are beginning to attempt to filter fake news. Some social network platforms are penalizing sources that do not have a strong track record and making it easier for consumers to report false news. Fact checking applications are now being created. Twitter released a new “mute” button for users to manage the quality and type of news they are exposed to. Still, the current solutions are only band-aid fixes as even the President of the U.S. Donald Trump is able to continue using Twitter to promote questionable facts. Remember Trump’s tweet claiming that he actually received more popular votes than Clinton if the so called “millions of people who voted illegally” weren’t counted (fake news).

Why Print Journalism Must Survive

As the integrity of some newspapers is being compromised by financial pressure, color journalism, and tech-driven filtering, the general consensus is that print newspapers are worthy of being saved.

Unlike TV and radio with limited time blocks, print journalism always had and continue to cover news more thoroughly and substantively than other media due to its more liberal space allotment.

“Print journalism tends to be more in-depth than what is reported on TV news programs,” said Davide.

She adds, “Often, newspapers are the source for ground breaking journalism in local communities. It is important for newspapers to survive as it holds a role to be a check and balance to other sources of news. There is a unique benefit to the diversification of news sources and modes of delivery. Just as scientific fields rely on years of research to build upon a deeper understanding of the natural world, the field of journalism builds upon a network of stories to reach some truth.”

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