This week focused on the question “are traditional media dying?” I do not think they are dying, but evolving and transitioning along with the digital age. The availability of the internet and mobile devices are the driving forces behind the future of media. Because the internet is almost everywhere, print newspapers are beginning to producing more online articles, magazines are moving to digital editions with interactive components, radio shows now have a competitor with podcasts, and people are delaying the television experience by utilizing TiVo/digital recorders or waiting to watch shows on sites like Hulu, Netflix, or YouTube. I decided a few years ago to drop my cable subscription and only have an internet subscription. I was not watching television, so why have a subscription? I soon realized how much I was missing out on news events, so I decided to include the basic news stations to watch the morning and evening news broadcasts.
After reading through this week’s articles, I started to think about how much the media has changed over the past few decades. Newspapers were printed so consumers were kept up-to-date with what was going on in their community. Editions were printed in the morning and in the evening with news updates. Radio was introduced, and news became more social. People would “tune in” every night to listen to the latest news briefs (not only focused on the community, but the world) or entertaining radio programs. During the time between radio and television, people would go to their local theaters to watch newsreels. This was the first time people were able to actually see recordings of world events. Once the television was introduced, people would gather around, much like with the radio, to watch the news or shows for pure entertainment. Not only were consumers getting their information instantaneously like they were with the radio, but they were now able to actually see what was happening. In the 1960s, consumers were able to see in-real time news about John F. Kennedy’s assassination, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I had a dream” speech, and the first rocket launch towards space. This was a major shift from reading about it in the morning paper!
Fast forward to now. All of these mediums still exist, but are utilized in different ways. Newspaper is still “king,” but in certain cities print circulation has moved from daily printing to a few times a week. Content that was previously created to be printed in the morning edition is now being produced for the internet so that consumers can get instant access. The radio is still around, but instead of tuning in to listen to a radio program (for example, “Little Orphan Annie”) consumers are listening traffic reports, morning shows, and music to make their commute to work much more enjoyable. The television is still showing news broadcasts, but instead of having three channels, we now have hundreds of channels filled with countless amounts of programming.
All that being said, one post that stuck out to me the most was a TED Talk by Jacek Utko titled “Can design save newspapers?” During his presentation, he described the positive effects that happened when he redesigned his newspaper. I found it very interesting that by making a few simple changes to the layout, readership grew. It was his mission to turn a dull paper into something more extraordinary and it worked. The media field is now at a point where it needs to redesign itself to stay current. We [consumers] are “demanding” immediate access to information due to the portability of smart devices. Because these devices offer a way to view, listen, and see content, newspapers can now offer audio commentary and radio and television stations can produce online articles. A crossover is occurring and each type of media can benefit from each other to help each other survive. By redesigning how each medium communicates to their audience, each area of the media industry can work to keeping themselves relevant in the digital world.
All in all, I believe the media field is in the process of trying to re-invent itself. People still want to read the written word, but how? Print editions, on a computer, via an app on a smart device? This is just one question that the media field is trying to address in this digital age. We are living in a really interesting time and I am looking forward to seeing where we find ourselves a few decades from now.