The changing face of media and how it effects capitalistic newspapers
The changing face of media and how it effects capitalistic newspapers
Media and how it is consumed has been changing since the beginning of the printing press by Gutenberg in 1439. Of all the media that is effected by the change, newspapers seem to be suffering the most. According to the Newspaper Association of America, U.S. Daily newsprint consumption is down by 15% since 2000 to 2006. The outlook for the U.K. is not looking so good either. According to the Guardian Newsroom, the circulation is also decreasing in England, the country that is known for its extensive media s through newspapers. With shrinking circulation occurring, newspapers and journalism is taking a downward spiral.
Media Ownership and consolidation
Media conglomeration, the combining of companies into larger companies, has been occurring at an alarming rate in the United States and in the United Kingdom. With media technology changing daily and large companies buying papers; other, old forms of media are suffering.
Media ownership consolidation happens when the, “deep pockets of a wealthy corporate parent can see a financially troubled media unit through a rough period at a price,” (Vivian 19). The process of these mergers, acquisitions and buyouts that consolidate the ownership of the media into fewer companies greatly influences newspapers. Not only does the changing technology effect readership, the conglomerations are hurting quality.
Time Warner, Walt Disney and Viacom are the three major companies that own American media. Rupert Murdoch, the CEO of News Corporation is known for acquiring most English newspapers, including The Times and The Sun and then moving his way into American media. Gannett, the fifth largest American media corporation, publishes 85 daily newspapers, including USA Today, and nearly 900 non-daily publications. When giant corporations with diverse interests consolidate, mass media is operated by a small number of companies. Many adverse effects occur due to this trend toward conglomeration.
Way we view media is changing
Alarming statistics are prevalent in the newspaper industry. According to Ph.D. Joseph Harry, professor at Slippery Rock University and faculty advisor to The Rocket, absentee ownership, the process of companies owning newspapers in many different regions, has been growing. The large companies bring in bottom-line managers that no nothing of a region. This leads to bad journalism and quick turnover.
Many parts of the newspaper suffer due to vertical integration of the media giants The quality of the work is seriously hurting. Fewer people do more work. At newspapers, a reporters story once when through several hands, including the editor, copy editor, headline writer, typesetter, and a proofreader (Vivian 22). With this system set, the story would have many opportunities to improve.
The newsroom today is much different. Proofreaders are no longer present, but have been replaced by spell-check software. The reporter now is overloaded and copy editors are also headline writers. Fact errors that would have been caught be the many people in the newsroom are now slipping into the newspaper. Also, loose writing is more prevalent due to the lack of editors to tighten work. This effects society by having newspapers that lack in quality. Journalism is a more competitive field than ever with jobs lacking in every area. Media technology, such as the internet, allows the use of programs that connect everyone. The Associated Press, a large media corporation in the United States that publishes articles for any newspaper member to print, is accessible quickly through the internet. While some may view this as a positive effect of media technology and conglomerations, some problems do arise. If on Friday a person flies from New York to Washington D.C. to Los Angeles and then onto Florida, they might find the same article published in every newspaper across the Nation. This ‘sameness’ is evidently happening with all newspapers, due to the easy accessibility.
In the United Kingdom, the future of journalism is truly in jeopardy due to the integration of media technologies. With circulation on such a decline, all newspapers are attempting new techniques to cut cost. The Union of Journalists spokesperson in London said that the once hectic job of news reporter is crossing into new fields. “A news reporter now has to take their own pictures, do their own interviews, grab video footage and still write and edit the stories.” Since the once complicated task of media operator is now practiced by just about anyone, newspaper owners consider this to be a reasonable task of their employees. What they don’t realize is that content will suffer with this integration of media. A person cannot conduct a proper interview, while performing the tasks that use to be done by four individuals.
If technology keeps changing as it is now, paper copies of newspaper may be an archaic entity of the past. From the media moguls, the money saved would be tremendous. “For the Washington Post, which prints about 700,000 papers a day and 1 million on Sundays, that could be an annual savings of more than $110 million, with newsprint at $625 per metric ton and rising,” (Ahrens 2).
This leads into the economic and moral issues that would arise from the online newspapers. Not everyone can afford the technology to view newspapers in this fashion. Does that mean that because of economic status an individual should be denied the right to view information?
Who it effects
The people most effected by the changing media ownership and usage, and the way the governments, United Kingdom and United States, are handling the issue are young communication students entering the field. The statistical information relating to job decreases and newspapers dying is dreadful. By researching the job outlook for journalists, one would be crazy to want to join the field. It seems as if in ten years no jobs will be available in the field whatsoever, unless you can do it all.
Also, local communities will suffer because most local news information is provided from local newspapers. If the papers cannot make any money due to lack of circulation, then they will die off. This will distance people from their local issues. Consumes suffering due to the lack of content. Since the newspapers have job cuts, due to the lack of circulation and advertising dollars, one journalist has to do all the work. This leads to terrible work and bad content.
The Federal Communication Commission, an independent agency of the American government that has the task of regulating media issues, adopted new rules in the cross-ownership of newspaper and broadcast with the Telecommunication Act of 1996. Since then, media is changing so fast that the FCC cannot keep up. With this said, in 2006, the FCC issues a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (www.fcc.gov). This means that they plan to change the rules about cross-ownership of broadcasting networks and newspapers.
If the FCC decides to ban the cross-ownership, this might cause some of the mass media conglomerate ‘buyers’ to slow down a bit, thus saving the faces of newspapers. If the FCC decides to allow the cross-ownership, newspapers might get eaten up in the buying and eventually disseminate in the large companies that bought them.
The large companies that are buying newspapers are not going to hold onto them if they are loosing money. Although unethical, it is the inevitable concern of the newspapers. In the United Kingdom, OfCom or Office of Communications, is the acting body of media issues, that performs similar jobs as the FCC by granting licenses and regulating media ownership (http://www.ofcom.org.uk/research/media_owners/rulesreview/). This government organization has rules about cross-media ownership as well. Most of the rules were written in 2003, but in the ordinance they allow for review every three years, thus keeping up with the ever-changing media.
Although these governing bodies try to weigh the advantages and disadvantages for the consumer and the media owner, the consumer is missing out the most. The laws are becoming more lax, in favor of cross-ownership. The quality of the material that is distributed when large companies take over is awful. Their minds are consumed with making money and not the quality of work produced.
The only saving face for newspapers is the internet. If the newspapers can convert online as most have, and gain advertising and readership through their online version, then they may be able to survive. The young consumer gains most of their information from computers, and by serving this up and coming demographic; newspapers will be able to survive.
According to the Guardian Newsroom representative, Dr. Campbell, The Guardian is the number one online web newspaper in the world, over the New York Times. This is uplifting information for the large newspaper. If they can make the change from hard copy to online version so successful, than maybe other newspapers can do it too. Also, the Guardian has moved their location and hired many web writers to convert the paper appropriately (Guardian Newsroom Discussion). This allows journalists the opportunity to still work. By transferring the advertising dollars to the internet websites, the newspapers have a better chance of saving face. The major newspapers of the world are already taking this step, with the smaller community papers following.
If people cannot afford a newspaper, then can they not receive the news. This major problem is of concern. A simple 25 cent newspaper is much simpler to buy than an expensive online subscription that can run hundreds of dollars.
Also, the tangible factor that made newspapers so appealing will be lost. The printing jobs will all be lost. The passing on to other members of the household factor will be gone, as well as the paper lying around for several days. With all of these factors missing, will the newspapers suffer even more?
Media ownership through conglomerations and the integration of media has truly changed newspapers as early as the birth of the television. In the last ten years, newspapers have suffered the most from the internet and the 24-hour news cycle. With this said journalists and the entire newspaper industry need to be equipped for the technological change that is inevitable. Times are changing, and with that newspapers will have to adjust. A person or a newspapers’ adaptability will be what sets them apart from the dying form of communication.
Media is spiraling down
Ahrens, Frank. “Newspapers: The Future” 12 Oct. 2006. washingtonpost.com 11 April 2008. <http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp- dyn/content/discussion/2005/10/11/DI20051011038.html>
Campbell, Dr. “Compare Los Angeles Newspaper to London Newspapers.” Guardian Newsroom, London. March 19, 2008.
“The Decline of English Journalists” Union of Journalists, London. March 19, 2008.
Eggerton, John. “Are News Habits Really Changing?” broadcastingcable.com 17 March 2008. 11 April 2008.<http://www.broadcastingcable.com/article/ CA6544004.html>
Federal Communications Commission, “2006 Review of the Media Ownership Rules.” Fcc.gov 29 Dec. 2006. 21 April 2008. <http://www.fcc.gov/ownership>
Harry, Joseph, Ph.D. Personal interview. 16 April 2008.
“History of the Media Cross Ownership Ban.” Newspaper Association of America. 2007. naa.org. 11 April 2008. <http://www.naa.org/Resources/Public-Policy- History-of-the-Media-cross-ownership-ban.html>
Lukas, J. Anthony and Richard Pollak. “The Nation” Gale Cengage Learning. 264.n25. (2007) 8.
OfCom. “Review of Media Ownership Rules.” Ofcom.org.gov.uk. 21 April 2008. <http://www.ofcom.org.uk/research/media_owners/rulesreview>
United Kingdom. Royal Commission on the Press. Media Ownership in the UK. London: 2003. <http://www.cultsock.ndirect.co.uk/MUHome /cshtml/media/mediaown.html.>
Vivian, John. The Media of Mass Communication. 8th ed. Boston, MA. Pearson, 2007.