The Importance of The Crisis of Journalism and Its Origins
Journalistic estimations possess an outsized influence to impact the shifting paradigms of contemporary civil life, foreign policy, societal beliefs, affairs of the nation, and legal investigations. The media’s reputation and its capability to represent itself to the society rely on the faith of its audiences that it is reporting accurate information. The discourse of media revolutions has impacted on journalism in multiple nations for the last several decades. Current technological innovation and the economic disruption it has instigated have facilitated the practices of independent journalism to be sustained in novel forms. Even though journalists defend their job ethics successfully, they experience vulnerable subversions as a result of the shifting fiscal and technological patterns (Alexander, 2015). Digital innovations have caused financial strain and extraordinary organizational disruptions. The rapid technical developments are significantly transforming how journalism is generated, distributed, and utilized. With the emergence of new equipment, new approaches are identified that define how information is produced.
The perpetual crisis of journalism cautions that the future of the journalism profession is uncertain. The conventional media sources in pluralistic cultures are losing audiences since new modes of reporting news outside the control of media corporations such as blogging are gaining popularity, especially among young individuals. Individuals’ ability to access numerous media sources that are inexpensive and readily available has led to less dependence on former media sources, including television and newspapers. Consumers’ willingness to pay for information has greatly declined. Besides, the vast audience that was fascinated by mainstream media is currently fragmented, prompting media corporations to customize their programming for particular audiences. The crisis has further prompted competition between media companies. Consequently, journalists’ workloads have increased, and their working conditions have depreciated. Multiple news organizations have decreased their staff numbers, and the remaining workers have been required to multiply their inputs. Even though more individuals are working as journalists than before, most of them are employed to work as public affairs practitioners in advocacy organizations as opposed to working in broadcast newsrooms.
However, other researchers have asserted that the crisis does not affect the entire profession but the conventional approaches of journalism; thus, they affirm that journalists have the ability to market themselves further. Journalists are encouraged to exploit the increasing internet opportunities. The Internet offers a platform for advertisements that can be utilized by journalists. With the rapid increase in information, new fields that require specialization in reporting will also arise. To manage increased competition and to draw viewers in an environment with an overload of data, efficient reporting will necessitate unique skills (Van der Haak, Parks & Castells, 2012). If multiple individuals will report on factual statements, then professionals should be allowed to focus on the conceptualization and clarification of published details. Efforts to incorporate journalism with digital technologies, whilst maintaining journalist civil values might benefit the expansion of the field.
Social media and biased information
With the advancements in technology, there has been a substantial increase in the utilization of social web applications, which have considerably altered the way objective journalism operates. Internet users have an extensive range of selection of news media. This has instigated the rise of an alternative paradigm of social media reporting, also referred to as citizen journalism (Younus et.al., 2012). The paradigm has prompted a shift from conventional media approaches to social media reporting. Similar to traditional news media, the news broadcasted over social media networks has a profound impact on shaping individuals’ views and perceptions (Ribeiro et.al., 2018). A vital characteristic of social media reporting is that the registration as a news publisher does not require any upfront charges. Thus, only traditional media companies are increasingly shifting to social media reporting, but multiple social media news outlets are also surfacing (Anderson & Weymouth, 2016). As a result of this transition, there are rising concerns about the dissemination of biased information. Even when the social media accounts utilized are authentic, the audiences regularly fail to recognize the biased information propagated by these accounts. The information disseminated from social media sharply contrasts with that of traditional media channels, because of the regular monitoring by qualified journalists, knowledgeable consumers are capable of recognizing the biases of various news distributors.
Whereas both media sources have the likelihood of propagating false information, it is valid to presume that social media propagates more biased information. To illustrate, a study conducted in 2016 after the presidential elections asserted that social media contributed to the distribution of false information (Allcott & Gentzkow, 2017). Further, individuals were likely to believe any information that favors their preferred nominee, mainly if they have segregated social media accounts. The ideological inclinations of news sources influence the underrepresentation or overrepresentation of particular political parties. Besides, individuals’ demographic characteristics such as race, gender, income, and national identity can be utilized to deduce more defined biases of a source. A different study conducted to assess the probability of the dissemination of biased information through social media identified that political biases within news media were widespread (Ribeiro et.al., 2018). However, other forms of media bias were also recognized, including demographic bias such as racial and gender bias that was significant in the creation of particular types of ethnic, gender, and racial stereotypes. Indeed, social media does contribute to the dissemination of biased information.
Use of algorithm is social media platforms
As aforementioned, social media platforms are increasingly investing in initiatives that incorporate the delivery of news content in the services they provide. Platforms such as Alphabet and Facebook offer their users with updates based on the formation of profiles about them. This is achieved through the collection of user information and the continuous monitoring of these users’ activities. The vast quantities of data collected by social media companies enable them to formulate profiles for their users. The dissemination of news content through social media differs from that of traditional approaches since it employs the use of algorithms. These algorithms allow social media platforms to deliver customized content to their users. In essence, they promote a customer-centric approach where organizations connect with their consumers. These platforms can also omit information that they do not intend to circulate, for example, if the information does not engage users or is not appealing to advertisers. Another crucial objective of algorithms in social media is their capability to identify the most pertinent and engaging narratives that will maintain users’ engagement with the platforms for long periods.
There are however, challenges to the integration of algorithms in media platforms. Algorithms can be utilized to provide appropriate content with dominance over others by advertising it frequently or by selecting the appropriate time that it should be featured. This implies that algorithms are subject to the perceptions, values, and biases of individuals who have programmed them. Hence, it is likely that concerns regarding their legal and ethical obligations may arise. The news distributors of social media should define the objectives that motivate the distribution of news content and whether profits are the sole motivators of the company’s involvement in news distribution. They should also evaluate whether their desire is only to attract individuals on their platforms so that they can engage in continuous user-surveillance to obtain information that allows them to market their products and services. Programmers’ values, attempts to clear errors and biases, and even stresses imposed by other parties influence the algorithms’ design. In turn, there are implications for the way information is generated and how the public sphere is formed. Social media exerts considerable influence on its audiences, yet it is subject to less scrutiny. Face book’s decision to utilize algorithms in all news processes did not produce the expected outcomes as the automated decisions prompted the circulation of false information. The delivery of news content through the use of algorithms impacts the transparency of information. They can steer information flows and influence public perceptions through automated means yet not be held responsible for it.
Allcott, H., & Gentzkow, M. (2017). Social media and fake news in the 2016 election. Journal of economic perspectives, 31(2), 211-36.
Alexander, J. C. (2015). The crisis of journalism reconsidered: Cultural power. Fudan Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences, 8(1), 9-31.
Anderson, P. J., & Weymouth, A. (2016). The changing world of journalism. In The future of journalism in the advanced democracies (pp. 29-50). Routledge.
Ribeiro, F. N., Henrique, L., Benevenuto, F., Chakraborty, A., Kulshrestha, J., Babaei, M., & Gummadi, K. P. (2018, June). Media bias monitor: Quantifying biases of social media news outlets at large-scale. In Twelfth International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media.
Van der Haak, B., Parks, M., & Castells, M. (2012). The future of journalism: Networked journalism. International journal of communication, 6, 16.
Younus, A., Qureshi, M. A., Kingrani, S. K., Saeed, M., Touheed, N., O’Riordan, C., & Gabriella, P. (2012, April). Investigating bias in traditional media through social media. In Proceedings of the 21st International Conference on World Wide Web (pp. 643-644).