Viewership vs. content

Viewership+vs.+content

Recently I attended a journalism conference in which the inevitable was brought to everyone’s attention. Print publications are quickly becoming a thing of the past and are being forced to make the transition from paper to the World Wide Web.

I understand this is in actuality a good thing, because it helps journalists adapt to their rapidly changing environment. Their work will be seen by many more readers on the internet than in a local and physical copy of the publication.

However, I disagree with the approach many of my fellow journalists are deciding to take. I will always value the content of any publication over the number of readers it attracts.

The journalism world is being pulled in two very different directions. With technology evolving as it is, any information we wish to have is only a few clicks away. This puts print publications at risk of being lost. The new pushes out the old.

According to the Newspaper Association of America “Those who use only mobile devices, rather than desktop or laptops, to consume newspaper digital content increased 53% in March 2015 from the same month a year ago, to 71 million adult unique visitors.”

The amount of users switching from print media to online makes publications compete for the attention of any and all readers. And nothing catches the modern persons attention better than a link that offers “The One Thing You Never Noticed in Full House”.

Publications then depend on “click bait” to build their readership. This has inadvertently shifted the importance of some online publications from giving readers valuable and important content, to making sure their website or app has more traffic than any of their competitors.

In my opinion comparing click bait to classic newspapers (even digital ones) is like comparing apples and oranges, it doesn’t match up.

The keynote speaker at the conference I attended argued that real news concerning matters that involve entire countries are on the same level of significance as cute cat videos.

I blatantly disagree. I read click bait like everyone else on my free time, however I do not put it on the same plane as the earthquake in Nepal or the Governor of Baltimore calling a state of emergency.

Nepal is currently having to deal with the risk of human traffickers using the tragedy of loss and confusion to steal young women and girls for sex trafficking.

I cannot bring myself to believe Ashton Kutcher redecorating his mother’s home is as important and young women being thrown into the sex slave industry.

Aspiring journalism students listened to a professional journalist tell them they had to start writing about any subject matter that will get readers hooked on their writing.

Priorities have been shifted and the validity of journalism in general is being brought into question.

Journalists just joining the field are being forced to make a choice; to continue on their path, trying to build credibility in their field or to follow the flow and report on celebrities on the red carpet.

Granted, many people find celebrity news interesting but how important is it really? Unless you’re a blogger, Youtuber, or writer who plans to focus of that type of news as a career, it isn’t necessary. No one needs to know which two celebrities just had a child and what quirky name it’s about to be given. It’s fun to know and if not for people interested in those things the writers reporting on it wouldn’t have jobs.

I agree that the world needs all different types of people for it to work. The problem lies in the responsibility journalists have to themselves, each other and the general population. It is our job to report on everything that comes across our path and to shine light on it.

If not for journalists when would the general public go out of their way to gather any information for themselves? Journalists do their job and an exceptional one at that, going through great lengths to bring readers the best, most accurate and recent news on a diverse amount of subject matters.

No other group of professionals focuses on exposing the truth the way journalists do. If journalists were ever to abandon their mission, they’d become gossip columnist.