Since the rise of the internet, the media landscape has changed a lot. Especially print media has been in free fall with declining circulations and shrinking ad sales. Many newspapers and magazines had to downsize in a painful way or even went bankrupt. Many journalists became unemployed.
Is this the end of journalism? Not at all. It’s a new beginning!
Some 110 years ago, people were traveling with horse-drawn coaches. But then the first automobiles came onto the market. The demand for coaches declined. Coachbuilders, horse breeders, and coachmen got into trouble. Everybody who didn’t adapt to the change got into trouble.
But the new invention gave rise to a new market – and a huge one indeed! Even today, as this market is old and settled, millions and millions of jobs directly or indirectly depend on the auto industry which, in the meantime, evolves towards electric and autonomously driven cars.
It’s the same with journalism. Only those complain who don’t see the new chances we got with online media.
In the old media business model, a few media companies delivered news and stories to many readers. This is called an oligopoly. Oligopolies with a few suppliers and many customers are slightly better than monopolies – but they are still far more inefficient than polypolies. Polypolies are what every smart economist and customer wishes for, as they rise quality and lower prices. And with online media, it’s the first time a media market has both many suppliers and many recipients. Furthermore, online media are not only economically better, they are also technologically advanced – just as cars go faster and are more comfortable than horse-drawn coaches.
Many claim that there are fewer jobs in the media industry than there were before the arrival of online media. But this simply isn’t true.
Today, not only editors and broadcasters are media producers. Today every company, every state authority, every organization, every political party, every church – literally every group of people – potentially are media producers. Today they can write their articles, make a podcast or video and publish their photos on their own.
So there are plenty of jobs for journalists. There might be less in the traditional media industry, but there are plenty in other organizations who need great journalists to inform their (potential) customers and stakeholders. Think of corporate publishing like customer or employee magazines, corporate TV, social media channels, etc. Not all of this is public relations or marketing. Today, customers are tired of hidden advertising and subliminal propaganda – and companies are aware of it.
But there are not only new jobs in new areas. Also freelance journalists have plenty of new potential clients.
With this peer-to-peer communication, it becomes more and more important that journalists position themselves as unique brands that stand for something special – like a specific writing style or a field they are experts in.
This isn’t the demise of journalism. These are great times for open-minded, committed, eager, and quality-oriented journalists.