By: Zoe Holzer
The state of the news industry today is one of adaptation, to both the changing platforms and the changing formats used for receiving news information. These changes affect how the average American receives information by creating confusion in choosing which sources to trust, yet allowing new, better ways of receiving information to be born.
More and more people, naturally, are receiving reports of all kinds from social media rather than print, as social media is much more efficient at first glance. There are many different directions modern news can and will be taking in the near future- decisions such as whether to move solely online, whether or not to maintain paid subscriptions, and the sizes of their markets are becoming increasingly necessary to analyze. Trust in print, despite its struggle, is higher than ever when compared to the confusing mix of reliable and unreliable, biased and unbiased online and social network news outlets.
According to a survey done by The Claw in September of 2017 among 154 high school and middle school residents in the bay area, 85 percent of them use social media to access news. This is reasonable considering how convenient social media platforms are, however, a handful of articles are more reliable for funny GIF’s than actual storytelling.
A large amount of teenagers and young adults now get news primarily from social media, which I do not believe is healthy; news presented on social media platforms often holds cheap entertainment combined with a small amount of real investigative information, as well as an overwhelming amount of shared, unresearched political opinions. Snapchat, for example features publishers like Seventeen, BuzzFeed, Cosmopolitan, and Mashable; though highly entertaining, I would not consider these to be serious news. Since our youth accesses daily information from these sources, the question becomes: can we really trust anything that we read on social media?
Faith in the mass media is scarce. Dan Holzer, a food safety consultant in Pleasant Hill, California, and Jacob Figen, a student at College Park High School, both stated that mainstream media is more similar to “reality television” than to actual dependable sources for observation of current events. They believe that the media has been corrupted by entities like an excess of bias, capitalism, and an absence of checks and balances.
According to a survey, about 53 percent of students do not lean heavily on the far left or right political wings- there was a slight leaning to the left, most likely due to the survey being conducted in the infamously liberal bay area- and it is reasonable to assume that most of these students would not be satisfied with the extreme bias portrayed by many news stations and companies.
Even people with far leanings, however, still desire the full truth. Jill Zawisza, a worker for the domestic violence agency W.O.M.A.N. INC. in the Bay Area, however, has not yet altogether given up on the news industry. She is focused on the notion that there is indeed unbiased reporting alive on the internet, but that you must search more in order to find it.
Zawisza and Figen both mentioned that fascism and Alt-Right extremists are a huge factor in today’s current events. Figen has a very interesting macro theory on these issues. He believes that the oppression of workers and minorities follows a cycle that begins as “covert” or “subtle” until, eventually, the oppression becomes more obvious and careless at which point the oppressors are overthrown; at this point the cycle is supposed to start anew.
While I agree that this is an accurate statement analytically, I also felt that Zawisza had a duley necessary perspective on these current events. She believes that the racist events such as 2017’s Charlottesville Riots are becoming harder and harder to ignore, and that by paying attention and taking a stand, you can in fact change the cycle and attempt to eliminate it for the better rather than be forced to sit back and watch it spin. I believe in both of these perspectives- discrimination may be both inevitable and solvable.
Either way, even though trust in mainstream media has fallen, it is clear that most people still feel a strong and powerful desire to be informed; this desire means that even though the news industry lacks trust and quality supply, the demand for it is still high. With this in consideration, I am positive that news will adapt and be reborn to cater to the people’s insatiable craving for information.
Holzer, Zawisza, and Figen did agree on one thing: that print news is indeed struggling and inevitably will need to adapt to survive. Even though the trust and “quality” of print news is seen as higher, the broader “quantity” and reduction of a carbon footprint with online news is a notable benefit and, most likely, are large reasons that online news is rising in popularity.
Overall, the mainstream media is in a period of transformation that has not been seen for many years. This affects how often and in what way our society is now perceiving information. From “clickbait” and a sense of unreliability, the adaptation of this industry is giving us all an opportunity to shape how we will be receiving our information in the long run. This is a critical time to be funding and giving attention to the news industry because this shift in receiving information gives us, the people, more power over how we receive information than we have held in a long time, a power that we may not have again. The adapting media may be confusing, but there is no better time than now to take a stand and start advocating for the unbiased methods of information sharing that you crave.