How Can journalism survive the decline of print and what are the dangers of a growing democratic deficit in local reporting?

The decline of Print media is due to a number of reasons, the most notable being the influence of digital media. As over 200 million people tuned in to watch the three 2016 presidential debates, it is clear that print media is dying. (Morrow, 2016)

However, journalism can survive the decline of print by targeting print editions at people aged 50 and over. As of 2016, a poll conducted concluded that 5% of Americans aged 18 to 29 read the newspapers, while 23% aged 50 to 64 read newspapers, and 48% of 65 and older read the paper (Mitchell et al., 2016). Instead of selling newspapers to young adults that are constantly on their gadgets scrolling through their newsfeed for stories, journalists should sell print media to older adults that still read newspapers.

That being said, another way that journalism can survive this decline is by journalists putting their news stories  online. A vast number of people receive the news online, mainly because it is free and easily accessible. A study done by Ofcom suggests there has been growth in the number of those who use any internet or apps for news, with over 41% doing so in 2014 compared to just under a 32% in 2013. It also found people aged 16-34 use internet as a source of information more than previously before: from 44% in 2013 to 60% in 2014. Newspapers are used by 40%, the same as the previous year (40%) (News Consumption In The UK: 2014 Report 7). The internet is becoming a more popular source of news, so by putting articles online, it is more likely that readers will find them easier online.

One of the dangers of a growing democratic deficit in local reporting is the extinction of print newspapers. James Harding, British journalist and the Director of BBC News said in January 2014: “almost half the employees of Northcliffe Media went between 2008 and 2012, falling from 4,200 to 2,200 according to its owners the Daily Mail & General Trust.” Press Gazette, a British media trade magazine, estimates that from 2005 to 2011, at least 242 local newspapers closed (PG research reveals 242 local press closures in 7 years, 2012).

With the closure of local print newspapers and the reduction of journalists, print media may eventually cease to exist as many news stories are available on the internet and are free for readers. The problem lies in that there may be some communities/households that rely solely on newspapers as their main source of information, and without print newspapers and journalists reporting local news, they may be left behind on world and local events.

Another danger is the lack of investigative journalism. A journalist is able to go undercover and retrieve information from a source pretending to be someone else. In the case of Sam Allardyce, former football manager, two journalists went incognito pretending to be business men to befriend Allardyce and found out that he was secretly conducting illegal acts such as selling a player under third party agreements (team, 2016). 

It may have been impossible to catch Allardyce without the journalists going undercover, as he would never have given information about his third party agreements to policemen, and with the lack of investigative journalists, certain incidents such as the Sam Allardyce incident may never be told.

Bibliography

Morrow, B. (2016) 2016 Third presidential debate ratings: How many people watched? Available at: http://heavy.com/news/2016/10/third-presidential-debate-2016-ratings-viewership-numbers-how-many-people-watched-donald-trump-hillary-clinton/ (Accessed: 4 January 2017).

Mitchell, A., Gottfried, J., Barthel, M. and Shearer, E. (2016) 1. Pathways to news. Available at: http://www.journalism.org/2016/07/07/pathways-to-news/ (Accessed: 4 January 2017).

PG research reveals 242 local press closures in 7 years (2012) Available at: http://www.pressgazette.co.uk/pg-research-reveals-242-local-press-closures-in-7-years/ (Accessed: 4 January 2017).

team, I. (2016) Exclusive investigation: England manager Sam Allardyce for sale. Available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/09/26/exclusive-investigation-england-manager-sam-allardyce-for-sale/ (Accessed: 4 January 2017).

News Consumption In The UK: 2014 Report. 1st ed. United Kingdom: N.p., 2014. Web. 6 Jan. 2017.

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