The Effects of Recent Development in News Production on the Quality of News

The Effects of Recent Development in News Production on the Quality of News

The Effects of Recent Development in News Production on the Quality of News

Introduction

The current media environment and the increasing pace of innovation in media production have affected the quality of news. Today, journalistic content is shared and propagated through multiple platforms to complement the traditional mass media. The public is playing an ‘active’ role in collecting, reporting, disseminating, and even analyzing the information that journalism presents in the news media. The primary role of journalism is to provide audiences with the fact and the interpretive context that allows them to understand the world events around them. However, change in the technology of news presentation has slowly changed this role. Terms such as participatory journalism, popular journalism, citizen journalism, tabloidization, and others have been used to characterize this changing trend in news production. This paper aims to examine the recent development in news production and their impact on the quality of news.  

The primary principles that must be applied to journalism include truthfulness, accuracy, fairness, impartiality, objectivity, and quality. Principally, without these features, there cannot be sound journalism (Patterson, Wilkins, & Painter 2018, 4). In the past, these principles applied consistently across the media, and as such, journalism could serve its role as a watchdog on the government. In addition, the quality of news could meet the set reporting standards. Nonetheless, the arrival of the digital revolution and the emergences of new forms of media platforms and the subsequent rise of the online social network have entirely changed the media landscape (Omar 2017, p.252). Social media, in particular, is widely used to access and find news. The movement towards digital news and more social media environment points to a situation where new media are still critical for news production but are relatively less important for the new distribution (Omar 2017, 253). News publishing is now shifting from traditional media houses to online media platforms. Moreover, readers are now more promiscuous; they have more options and are not a passive receiver of the media messages. The traditional role of professional journalists is remorselessly moving in favors of the internet, mobile, and new interactive digital platforms (Tandoc & Jenkins 2017, 482). However, the principles that create sound journalism are no longer observed. Therefore, the primary concern among scholars is how recent news production development is changing the quality of news disseminated to the audience.

The Impact of Citizen Journalism/Digital News

Citizen journalism is one of the most rapidly evolving forms of journalism today. The concept refers to journalistic activities of non-professionals (Noor 2017, 55). As such, regular citizens are actively involved in collecting, reporting, analyzing, and disseminating the issues that confront them. The primary intents of digital news or citizen journalism are to offer independent, reliable, accurate, and appropriate widespread information (Knight  & Cook 2013, 99). The digital news and emergence of user-generated websites and blogs have provided these non-professional journalists with a platform they can voice their concerns. However, in most cases, citizen journalistic contents are too subjective, emotional, untrustworthy and with no real value. For example, a professional journalist’s covers news about the fire, crime, the legislature, and politics, and this allow them to display information vetted by agencies concerned. In contrast, a citizen journalist is always outside of such constraints; they offer news coverage that is incomplete to deliver a coherent image of significant news events. Notably, news from these unprofessional journalists is propagated in real time, but the lack of its oversight means that it may be inaccurate.

Another critical aspect that differentiates the quality of news of citizen journalism and that of mainstream journalism is the presentation of the news. The mainstream journalist is not only expected to create news stories but to design them in a way that aligns with other stories and follows certain ethical principles. According to Carlson (2007), this added meaning is not about telling a story accurately, but also to demonstrate the meaningfulness of arranged stories that are combined to create real news. Unlike digital news, the traditional journalist possesses a presentational authority and the ability to generate meaning through various news items. The quality of the news mainly lies in this presentational authority and the ethical principles when presenting a story. Carlson (2007) argues that the selection and placement of news are not natural, but it is activated through set journalistic conventions. Therefore, it is not just about presenting the news in a manner that the audience will understand, but also presenting it in a defined structure that allows the audience to interpret it and to understand the overall meaning and its implication to the world around them. Markedly, the defined structure in mainstream news presentation may overlook some aspect in the stories. However, research on audience’s behavior indicates that news consumption is an active process; therefore, the quality of news is never reduced (Croteau & Hoynes 2013, 243). On the other hand, news from citizen journalists focuses on individual stories, and the presenter chooses to place in a publication without any set conventions. As such, the audience may not internalize the importance of a story in the same hierarchy as that of professional journalism.   

The Impact of Tabloidization on the Quality of News

Tabloidization is another type of cultural development in today’s media. In essence, it describes a shift in focus from the hard news into a more ‘sensational’ and entertainment news (Bird 2009, 52). Precisely, in this type of journalism, priorities within a given medium are shifted away from the news, and the information is more emphasized on entertainment or the boundaries of tastes are changed to other media forms (Randev 2014, 42). Therefore, in this process, the press pays more attention to the soft news at the expense of covering important public affairs. The concept has an apparent effect on the quality of the news because higher standards of journalism are undermined by nosiness and pure naivety (Alotaibi 2013, 190). An excellent example is Twitter, which limits the number of content one tweet contains. As such, attractive ‘sensational’ post has to be used to attract users in this platform, but the content does not provide any viable or accurate information about an event. It replaces the rational analysis of the news, ultimately reducing the quality of the news and the traditional role of journalism. 

One of the critical aspects that affect the quality of news in tabloidization style is its language simplification tactics. In any media content, if the reader finds several incomprehensible words, they are likely to move to the next content. Therefore, in tabloid content, simple words are used to generate clarity and enhance readability. Technical terms are avoided or used sparingly, and definitions of terms are made easy for all audience to understand. In a study conducted by the University of Bristol and Cardiff University, it was concluded that tabloid content is easier to read than any content in mainstream media (Randev 2014, 43). Thus, the audience is only interested in understanding the story and not the structure or the accuracy of the information. Tabloid content feeds this need to the audience, thus making them escape the vital news content. The quality of the news is ultimately reduced because this style of media presentation attracts spiteful sarcasm, dark humor, and other strategies that may also find their way into the mainstream news. Tabloidization primary aim is to garner the interest of the reader, therefore, private matters become public affairs, and news stories are eventually fabricated to support the content. The consequences of utilizing this culture in media are that the news media organizations eventually fail to take serious, the objectivity, the accuracy, reliability, trustworthy and independence reporting and this ultimately affect the quality of news.

In essence, citizen reporting and tabloidization are some of the recent development in new production, but other emerging new productions styles are replacing them. For instance, tabloidization is being replaced by clickbait, where audiences are tempted to click and read articles on news website (Chakraborty et al. 2017, 5). However, the articles the Clickbank provides offer less value than the traditional media organization. Undoubtedly, the prevalence of these news developments in the media makes the mainstream journalism to lose its sense of authority in reporting. If mainstream journalism is not going to rise to the challenge, the digital news, participatory journalism, and tabloidization will take control, and the role of journalism will be lost entirely. According to Levy and Nielson (2014), journalism will either be forced to adhere on the traditional notion of objectivity and struggle to survive in the cynical world or accept the recent change of new customer’s preference and embrace the recent development into the media while still maintaining a commitment to an ethical code of journalism (145). The participatory potential of the internet can also be used to provide better information and facilitate accurate reporting as compared to citizen reporting and tabloidization.

Conclusion

The news consumers are critical today mainly because there has been a parallel shift in news consumption over the last few years. Digital news and tabloidization have become a primary medium for news consumption today; ultimately disrupting the traditional media organization and affecting the way news is consumed. The content disseminated by these digital news and tabloidization styles is subjective, emotional, unreliable, and in most cases, they provide no real value to the audience. Moreover, they are outside the constraints of ethical codes, and the lack of oversight makes them inaccurate and subjective. Conversely, the mainstream news media are guided by certain conventions; thus they do not only tell a story accurately, but the journalists also possess a presentational authority that is not available in digital news. The quality of the news mainly lies in this presentational authority. Journalism has to rise to the challenge so that the traditional role of journalism is not lost entirely.

References

Alotaibi, N. N., 2013. An analysis of the implications of the growing tabloidization of news coverage on democratic politics. European Scientific Journal, ESJ9(14). pp.185-195 http://eujournal.org/index.php/esj/article/view/1078/1112

Bird, S. E., 2009. Tabloidization: What is it, and does it really matter?. The changing faces of journalism (pp. 50-60). London: Routledge. https://bit.ly/2PXA4ob

Carlson, M. 2007. Order versus access: news search engines and the challenge to traditional journalistic roles. Media, Culture and Society 29(6): 1014-1030. https:// DOI: 10.1177/0163443707084346

Chakraborty, A., Sarkar, R., Mrigen, A. and Ganguly, N., 2017. Tabloids in the Era of Social Media?: Understanding the Production and Consumption of Clickbaits on Twitter. Proceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction1(CSCW) https://arxiv.org/pdf/1709.02957.pdf

Croteau, D. and Hoynes, W., 2013. Media/society: Industries, images, and audiences. London: Sage Publications. https://bit.ly/2JevTUM

Knight, M. and Cook, C., 2013. Social media for journalists: principles and practice. London: SAGE Publications Limited. https://bit.ly/2Jgrlgy

Levy  D, & Nielson, R.,K. 2014, “The Changing Business of Journalism and Its Implications for Democracy”, Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, .https://bit.ly/2VfZD4Q

Noor, R., 2017. Citizen journalism vs. mainstream journalism: A study on challenges posed by amateurs. Athens Journal of Mass Media and Communications3(1), pp.55-76. https://www.athensjournals.gr/media/2017-3-1-4-Noor.pdf

Omar, B., 2017. Online news production, consumption and immediacy: The remediation perspective. Jurnal Komunikasi: Malaysian Journal of Communication33(3). https://www.researchgate.net/publication/320417585_Online_news_production_consumption_and_immediacy_The_remediation_perspective

Patterson, P., Wilkins, L. and Painter, C., 2018. Media ethics: Issues and cases. Newyork: Rowman & Littlefield. https://bit.ly/2EdFszd

Randev, D.J., 2014. The Nature of Tabloidized Content in Newspapers: An Overview. IOSR Journal of Humanities and Social Science19(4), pp.41-46. http://iosrjournals.org/iosr-jhss/papers/Vol19-issue4/Version-8/I019484146.pdf

Tandoc Jr, E.C. and Jenkins, J., 2017. The Buzzfeedication of journalism? How traditional news organizations are talking about a new entrant to the journalistic field will surprise you!. Journalism18(4), pp.482-500.

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