Back in 2012, HBO premiered The Newsroom, a TV series about what happens behind the camera of a major, national news show. It was created by Aaron Sorkin, who is well-known for his award-winning works for both TV and films, such as The West Wing and The Social Network. But, despite the credentials and the reputation of Sorkin, The Newsroom garnered negative reviews from critics.
It wasn’t because the show was badly written. It didn’t have superfluous plot points and dull characters. No, it was the way it portrayed the news. Journalists, especially, detested the show. This is surprising because one would think that journalists would be raving about a show about their work.
One of the problems is that The Newsroom upholds network news above all else. The primetime news anchor hated the fact that one of his staff members is writing his blog. The executive producer doesn’t take into consideration people’s testimonies on Twitter. The news show barely has an online presence.
Journalism has evolved now with the internet. It doesn’t rely anymore on network news shows. This is how the internet has changed the way journalists deliver the news, and how we absorb it.
The thing about social media is that there’s so much content and information that it’s very hard to compete for people’s attention. Social media users have access to many news websites, gossip, Facebook posts and Tweets, and memes in the palm of their hands. But because it’s essential for news outlets to capture people’s attention and help them stay informed, they had to come up with other creative ways to stay relevant. And short videos as explainers helped with that. This is why there’s a high demand for professional video production services today.
At the forefront of this news format are Vox, NowThis, and Insider. Every day, they post videos spanning from two to fifteen minutes. Through this, people will not only hear about a piece of news. They will also understand it through the explainer format. And because videos are catchy and easier to digest than written articles, it’s much easier to attract people’s attention.
A common problem with journalism is that the audience are very busy. Working adults, typically, don’t have time to sit down and watch the primetime news. They have jobs, kids, and chores to worry about. So news outlets found a way to overcome this problem. Funnily enough, they harked back to a time before TV news was even a thing. This is because podcasts are reminiscent of a time when people relied on the radio for news.
News giants such as CNN and The New York Times are posting podcasts daily. Some of their episodes take a deep dive into one specific topic. The hosts chat with experts and witnesses to shine a light on the context of the news. Some episodes, on the other hand, focus on the daily news.
With podcasts, people could listen to the news whenever they can. They can do it while they’re driving, cooking dinner, or whatever menial task that they had to do every day. Despite their busy lives, they still stay informed about current events.
Social media is the bane of traditional journalism. And that was made clear in The Newsroom. The thing is that we understand this sentiment. Fake news is, in a way, a form of virus. And it’s been spreading for years. This is because it’s so much easier to share information through social media. It doesn’t go through a series of hoops with editors and fact-checkers, much like in an actual newsroom.
But, in a way, social media also opened a lot of doors for journalism. For one, it delivers the news to the public. When the Boston Marathon bombing happened in April 2013, there was a chaotic influx of information about what happened. No one really knows, at first, if it was even a bomb at all. But Facebook and Twitter users who first-hand witnessed the bombing helped shed some light on what happened. These posts and Tweets weren’t, by any traditional journalist’s standards, reportable. But they still gave an idea of what went down that day before all of the facts were set straight.
The relationship between news reporting and the internet is a double-edged sword. It helped transform the way journalists deliver the news. But it also led to dangers such as fake news. However, despite the ups and downs, no one could deny the fact that news reporting is no longer contained in the bubble of network news. It’s so much more than that now.