Bring in the new era …
Media in this country has an astronomical problem. And it’s not what some major players want you to believe it is, either. ‘Fake news’ is whatever, a blip on the timeline of popular culture. No, the current issue with massive organizations is something long in the making. They’re old and not listening to consumers anymore — as if they ever really did. It’s why some of them are destined to fail.
The fall, well it's incredible to watch.
After the results of the past election rolled in, it was clear the pressure inside media’s core burst. Outlets everywhere fell apart live on TV into a performance ripped directly from a middle-American farm scene with headless chickens wildly dashing around the newsroom desperate for a direction. They couldn’t believe what was happening.
The outcome showed media’s influence was called; the bluff had finally run its course.
It was an outrageous spectacle showing exactly what was about to happen in the coming months: rampant finger pointing and failed misdirection. A complete refusal to claim accountability. Pages after pages of op-eds since have flooded the Internet, like the levees holding them in were once contracted by the government years ago, all of us stuck living in the projects haphazardly built in their paths.
“You’re the reason media is failing! You aren’t giving us enough money! Fake news! Fake news! Trump, Trump, Trump … ”
Except, it isn’t readers’ fault major news organizations are failing, no matter how many times they tell you that. The Denver Post, specifically, decided to chastise the public once again this past weekend with 3 separate articles explaining we’re not spending our attention, and our paychecks, in a place that benefits them the most.
“Support local journalism,” writes Daniel Petty in one titled Is Social Media Destroying The News? “I laud the subscription bumps going to the big national players as much as anyone, but the places that need your support more than ever are local journalists. Sign up for a newsletter, donate to a journalism nonprofit, buy a digital, or print, subscription.
“In the end,” he adds, “we get the media we pay for.”
Which is just simply not true. We get the media we choose to, and of those, which is the most successful at grabbing a reader’s attention away from all the others.
But it’s not for a lack of readership that media outlets are losing money, Petty even alludes to that in that same article. “We’re reaching more people than we ever have in our organization’s 125-year history,” he says. “We don’t have an audience problem; we have a revenue problem.”
And whose fault is that?
According to a recent Nielsen report, a surprising 81 percent of monthly newspaper readers still engage with the physical product, with an overall 51 percent reading print exclusively. Those aren’t just seniors waiting to die that are embracing an ‘old medium’ either — “Notably, Millennials 21-34 make up 25 percent of the U.S. population and now represent 24 percent of the total monthly newspaper readership,” the report adds. It's about major media not adapting to the changing landscape.
Everyone in the world, The DP included, was quick to jump on the Internet craze of the past decade-and-a-half. It was prematurely solidified as ‘the future of media' — everything falling to our electronic overlords. Now, trends are proving that really isn’t the case, there is still a market in the physical. Likewise, there are other things to sell. But where are the major players on that? Nowhere to be found …
Getting readers to fork over their slowly diminishing expendable income on a product, however, is admittedly becoming more difficult because of the exemplary products offered on a global scale. Options on where to spend are everywhere. With them, readers are asking for something that feels inherently theirs, to be a part of the circle a brand can offer. Honesty. Perspective. For an outlet like The Denver Post to survive (and many like it around the states), it has to offer that kind of connection. The hundred-year-old way of doing things won’t survive a new millennium, and very well shouldn’t.
There isn’t a major media outlet in America right now innovating content and reaching out to the public in any meaningful way. There aren't any communities built around the brands. Sure, the New York Times saw a 270,000 user bump because of something Donald Trump Tweeted one night — but you know what readers are ultimately getting even with a substantial payment for mediocre coverage?
Fucking pop-up ads! And the same tired manipulative articles twisting narratives to fit an agenda. Readers, it appears, are growing to become smarter than that and will easily surf through multiple outlets in a matter of minutes to find they’ve been lied to. Many will just as easily hop on bandwagon sites to fit in, too. Ever see a teenager wear a Washington Post t-shirt because they want to show the whole school who they are inside? Exactly.
Information — bought and sold — is a commodity, not a right, after all. Readers can very well choose to go elsewhere with their support and many times do. To stay in the game, an outlet needs to build loyalty, trust and connect with the real people out there paying bills — factors the entire traditional model lost during the elections, and is currently doing a miserable job at gaining back.
In a recent Gallup poll released this past September, confidence in the media hit disastrous new lows. Overall, only 32 percent of Americans have “a great deal or fair amount” of trust in the media. Broken down by age, only 38 percent of people 50 and older say they have faith their news outlets. From 18 to 49 years old, however, that number spirals out of control down to 26 percent.
Donald Trump’s approval by comparison, though historically low itself, currently rides around 40 percent, a number that fell to this position after what some have called his worst week as president yet.
Why? Because standard tricks aren’t working anymore. Not for anyone stuck in an old line of thinking, anyway.
Readers now are looking for more than one-trick ponies that offer a twisted version of truth. As it was, media outlets had monopolies on what information could be disseminated, how it was delivered and when they wanted to give it to us. That was their bluff, poker face included. The Internet has changed those dynamics entirely, and now what once was has to deal with what’s going to be.
That's called competition: failure in it proves a lack of advanced effort and adaptability.
Bring in the new era.