The Changing Face of News

The Internet has had an incredibly pronounced impact on the way news is reported. Where previously everyone got their news from similar sources – a limited range of newspapers, radio and TV stations – now there is an unlimited proliferation of information.

This has meant that the value proposition of a news outlet has now changed significantly. In the old world, news agencies could run whatever stories they wanted to – whatever they thought would be of enough interest to someone that they would buy a newspaper or listen to their ads.

But that’s not how it works anymore. Sites make their money depending on how many hits each article gets. That’s why every time you get online, you’ll see a mass of hyperbolic headlines and “nearly-unbelievable-but-I-need-to-check” snippets everywhere. These articles are where sites make their money, as they draw the biggest number of clicks.

The Internet has also drastically shortened the life cycle of the news. This is part of the greater ecology shift in the news industry. Prior to the Internet, most people were content to have one major news update a week, usually in the form of the weekend paper. They might get occasional tidbits from the TV or radio.

Nowadays, most people check at least one or two news sites daily – if not every few hours.

This means that news outlets have had to massively increase their output of content. That’s why you will often see a single story covered from multiple angles. It also explains why so many articles can barely be considered news – celebrity gossip, travel and parenting tips, local events, and rhetorical opinion pieces fill a void that would otherwise send readers to other more prolific sites.

Of course, 24-hour TV news was the forerunner for this condition, but it’s really the Internet that has changed the expectations of news readers and the profile of news providers.