Media must adopt innovative business models in order to maintain talent.
The HBO’s Tonight with John Oliver recently delivered a fascinating episode in which the state of journalism was discussed. Millions have watched and “Liked” the episode since it was posted on YouTube in the first week of August 2016. The gist of the show was to demonstrate the dangers of relegating investigative journalism to the periphery in the newsrooms. Oliver argues that most media organisation have started prioritizing stories that a re cheap to cover and with the propensity of attracting more “Likes” on the new media platforms. He suggests that often these choices of stories lack substance. He concludes by cautioning “if we do not pay for journalism, we will pay for it later in future”. The consequences of neglecting good journalism and closure of newspapers may have devastating effects in the long run. Broadcast journalism will be the first victim. Most stories that eventually find their way into television are first published in the newspapers as John Oliver perfectly demonstrated in his show.
The advent of the new media has introduced several challenges to the media business in general. Everyday new online media outfits emerge offering innovative, efficient and affordable products. Most traditional media institutions are struggling to keep the head above the water. This has led to the closure of a number of media institutions over the years and the exit of some of the most talented people in the business. The departure has compromised good journalism and professionalism within many media institutions as well. The media landscape has become very fluid, it is a place of constant shifting sands. What existed yesterday is challenged tomorrow. Consequently most media institutions are forced to adapting to the new the realities. Furthermore the media platforms and their content are heavily influenced by constantly changing media consumption habits. This has necessitated the alterations and modification of newsgathering processes inside the newsrooms. This new reality inside has seen the control of the newsrooms tilting to the dominion of the new generation of workers. Older generations are finding their roles relegated and restricted only to the content generating spheres of the business, mainly writing, traditional reporting and story research. Unfortunately these spheres of the business are shrinking and are highly competitive. Most talented and experienced journalists have consequently lost their jobs. In the past few people could broadcast and publish, now anyone can broadcast and publish. The new media platforms that offer these opportunities come without conditions and have enabled millions of people to disseminate information often free of charge. The position of editors, former gatekeepers and guarantors of “professionalism” has been usurped. Crowd sourcing of content is the new buzzword in the business and there are enough platforms providing space for journalism and aspiring journalists.
Most media institutions have been struggling in dealing with this new reality. Al Jazeera Media Network has developed innovative ways in tackling these challenges. The establishment of research, human rights and training divisions has proved to be effective in tackling these challenges. Older generation of journalists have found space in these new platforms. They have become useful, researchers, mentors and trainers. They have become very important in filling the void, dissemination of institutional memory and assisting in the preservation of professionalism in the ever-changing sphere of journalism. The juniorisation of the newsrooms has necessitated constant oversights, the older generation of experienced journalists have been playing an important role in this regard. Furthermore they ensure that professionalism in the content is preserved irrespective in all media platforms. The quality of content distinguishes and set any media organisation apart, most media brands are dependent on this awareness. Lack of information verification processes before reports are disseminated by the organisation could compromise the standing of the organisation and may result in protracted lawsuits. The presence of the right people with acute acumen is essential given the new realities within the newsrooms including juniorisation of staff. The fast pace of news leads in many instances to the neglect of some of the most important principles of journalism. The establishment of a fully-fledged research centre at Al Jazeera for an example, assists journalists with information verification and broader understanding of the world and politics whenever required. The network has a dedicated research centre with highly skilled individuals who specialize in a wide variety of issues who come from different parts of the world.