As you know, the media is currently in decline. With newspapers losing much of their readership, broadcast news appealing mostly to older generations and online news sources struggling to make ends meet, it’s a terrible time to be a journalist or in the news business as a whole.
And there are many reasons that’s the case. There’s the obvious one regarding online competition, since everyone and their dog can become a journalist thanks to the internet. There’s the rise in tech like adblockers, which came about in response to widespread surveillance from the marketing machine. Hell, there’s even a good case to be made that political disconnects between the media and its audience are the cause, given how many newspaper stories show a complete disregard for the opinions of those outside of echo chambers like Twitter and Reddit.
But there’s one reason many people talk about. One which may have had a surprisingly large effect in killing off the traditional newspaper or TV broadcast.
Namely, specialisation. Thanks to the internet, we don’t need a ‘Jack of all Trades’ publication anymore.
Which is exactly what the media were. They were an ‘aggregator’ before the times of Slashdot or Hacker News, a centralised source that would provide a bunch of interesting stories in a dumbed down, easily understandable form.
And in the pre internet days, that worked. When your alternatives were scientific journals and books from the local library, a simple source that explained the basics of whatever was going on that day/week/month/year was a godsend. People didn’t have easy access to primary sources, and doing the research meant hours of painstaking study involving interviews, papers and books.
This also meant for many people, they didn’t have much of an idea how unreliable these newspaper/TV news narratives were. It wasn’t easy to fact check everything you read/watched/heard, so you just kinda assumed these media folk knew what they were talking about.
The internet however, has put paid to all of those assumptions.
For starters, it makes it very easy to fact check everything a news source puts out, simply by doing a quick Google search about the same. This means that now even non experts can experience the gelman amnesia effect in some sense or another, to the point they stop trusting anything at all.
It also means they can find better sources for everything a paper or news source puts out.
Which in turn are impossible to compete with by the traditional media. When you’ve got a daily paper with limited space for tech, science or sports coverage, you’re never going to be able to compete with the internet on them. Especially not expert blogs/sites/wikis/YouTube channels who can discuss said topics 24/7 with a level of expertise your journalists can merely dream of.
And this why we’re in the situation we’re in now. No one wants an inaccurate, Cliff’s Notes version of reality aimed at the lowest common denominator, and a lack of meaningful competition was the only reason anyone seemingly did before.
Thanks for reading!