Thursday, October 17, 2013

Technology and the fall of the News Industry

Last time we published an article on how ICT threatens the future of Print Media. In today's article we articulate how the News Industry in Zimbabwe and in the world in general  is endangered by technology. Technology wiped off internet cafes, it washed away phone shops, threatens to flush away something bigger-the News Houses!

The business of news houses is selling news!  And what is news? Perhaps some new story, maybe a new happening! News must be new to the audience to be regarded as news! So the news houses were positioned to follow events and happenings and then write a story to alert the public about it, of course before the public hear about it from somewhere!” Would you buy last week’s newspaper and expect to find news! There will be nothing new!
Okay, the newspaper will simply hardly carry any news! There will come a time, it is coming, it has come; when you buy a newspaper only to find very little news in it. You already know of most of the happenings they are narrating! Then you need it less and less! You will visit your favourite online newspaper and you find there’s nothing new!
We needed the news houses because we had no access to news, we were landlocked and separated from places and events! Technology has since bridged and is closing this gap! How many times have you seen a story in the newspaper and you have already heard of it. Now with technology news is spreading so fast, very fast that the moment a newspaper needs to write about it, edit, distribute and sell, it’s already in the hands of the public. Did you hear of the Budiriro witches story first with the newspaper or through hearsay and social networks like facebook? I have realised of late that I hear of the news first through social networks like facebook and twitter as well as news blogs before the formal news house publishes it!
Exactly the point! Social networks and especially mobile proliferation contribute much to the rapid spread of news to the public before the news houses publish it. What then? We continue to need the news houses less and less! We continue to lose interest slowly but surely!
News houses also have a challenge of the threat of new entrants in the industry.  Starting an online newspaper is now as easy as starting a vegetable garden at your back yard! More and more news blogs are sprouting on the web everyday whilst the number of readers remains fairly constant. The blogger has very limited expenses- a small staff compliment and a small salary bill. Our formal news house has huge expenses! As a result there will be a continued drop in readership as news websites increase to compete with the conventional news houses and share visitors. This will also mean a share of advertising revenue!
Leaders rise and fall! The sun rises and sets! Trees grow and die! Flowers blossom and fade! Some Industries rise, blossom, fade and die!  Ask the photographer what happened to his business! Now you take photos from your phone! In the end it looks like, the world will be a news house on its own, every country a branch of the news house, every city an office of the news house and every individual a journalist! We all like to hear good news, but I call it good news to be warned of a flood!

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