MMC students discussed the future of news and came up with inspiring and hopeful predications despite the bad news of furloughs, layoffs, paycuts and closings.
Most agree recent seismic changes may lead to a better media landscape. There was a need for the news business to consolidate and innovate pre-pandemic. The current crisis pushed this process along. Smaller news outlets may not survive the drying up of revenue sources, but stories will still need to get told because the audience now expects it. Journalists may be working from home more, but they will still be covering important events and telling people’s stories. It will be online only - print publications will be curtailed or cease entirely. “Even I, as someone who greatly prefers print books to digital, have switched to reading primarily e-books, because I have no access to bookstores or libraries to pick up a hard copy, so my kindle and digital libraries are my only options. During this time people will adjust to receiving their news and reading online and may not switch back to print after this pandemic has ended,” admits one MMC student.
And this news audience is bigger than ever. “People are tuning in everyday” says another, “perhaps people will wake up and realize just how necessary reporters are and how hard their jobs are. They are the ones risking their lives. They are the ones with direct contact to the political leaders, doctors, and scientists on the front lines, relying the concerns of the people to them and facts back to us.” Yet another adds, “the news is a lifeline (and sometimes a headache) during major world events, but either way it is vital.” As families are sheltering together, they are discussing news more and sharing news sources together like never before. Says one graduating senior, “Every week day at 1pm, my mom and I watch the first hour (at least) of the Today Show (because we’re in Germany and we’re six hours ahead of EST) and then we’ll spend the next hour or so discussing it. We get the whole family in on it, if they’re around.” Another student pointed that even children’s programs are getting into the news game. News literacy should be added as a subject from Kindergarten onward.
State and local governments have emerged as reliable news sources with their daily briefings, updates and orders on the Covid-19 crisis. “I hope that the leadership and respect displayed by Governor Andrew Cuomo, Governor Phil Murphy, and Governor Gavin Newson towards reporters and journalists, among others, will remind Americans how much of a vital job that they do,” says one student.
But innovation is key. "The matter of surviving, though, is learning to adapt to how people consume the news." Some ideas: more video content to drive subscription revenue, a focus on social media as a storytelling tool for breaking news. And then, more of a focus on in depth story telling. Overall working with fewer bells and whistles will be the norm. Social media platforms also need to step up their game. Facebook, Twitter and Google have not been traditionally considered news organizations - maybe we have to realize they are and push them to do more.
In the end, all agree, the news will survive. “These troubling times have taught us that without proper news reporting, all that we’re left with is an endless web of opinion and rumor,” says one graduationg senior. News production and consumption has changed considerably over the last 300 years and the Pandemic is just another stimulus. “[News has] seen rise and falls for sure, but always survived and this should and will be no exception. It’s a hard time, but we will get back on our feet even if it takes a while or is difficult to do.”
An Ode to News by Claire Hubble
The future of our news seems bleak
When we look back at our past, did we peak?
Looking forward to rising oceans and famine,
We should look at our lives, fully examine
The examiners, journalists, will be here forever
Whether it’s writing on rock or via wifi, always so clever
Yes, the ones with the pens will keep us sane,
Keep us updated during pandemics or rain
While the future of our news seems dark,
Our writers and correspondents give us a spark.