Facebook, 500 million users, Twitter, 200 million users. This has become the new mammoths of today’s news media environment. Man can subsist without a newspaper but no man can subsist without news. News is the spinal cord of journalism.

Welcome to the digital world where news is no longer just the 7 pm broadcast on television. It is no longer holding a cup of coffee on one hand and a newspaper on the other, relaxing on your comfortable sofa. It is the media platform that we are constantly engaged in. It’s the electronic devices we use, websites we visit, the posts we like and the tweets we read.

PURPOSE OF JOURNALISM

The purpose of Journalism can be defined by the functioning of the news in the lives of people. News helps in creating awareness. Whatever age you’re it is important to know what is happening around the globe. The more one knows, the better decision he/she makes.

You want to decide whether to carry an umbrella out by checking the weather reports. Want to know the sports scores? Need stock market reports? Get to know about vacancies in job positions? Schemes introduced by the Government? Or about taxes and goods & services we need? Media is the answer to every question. It is the backbone of civilisation. Had it not been for the media, the destruction caused by cyclone “Amphan” could have been doubled.

If a democracy is to survive and thrive, well-informed people are obligatory. Undoubtedly, the media acts as the watchdog of the government.

One doesn’t need to become obsessed with the news. But it is important to know what the big names are and what are they doing.

“Aaj ki tazaa khabar….” has become a part and parcel of one’s life.

I conducted a survey, received responses from 88 individuals belonging to different age groups. Unsurprisingly, there was not a sole response saying that they do not access NEWS. After all, who doesn’t wish to know about what is happening around the world, around their country and their very own locality?

survey on journalism
Survey: Author Compilation

DIGITAL JOURNALISM-AN OVERVIEW

According to the American Press Institute, Journalism is the activity of gathering, assessing, creating and presenting news and information. Online Journalism is Digital Journalism i.e. any journalist content available on the internet.

The first type of digital journalism, called Teletext, was invented in the UK in 1970. Indian Journalism saw the face of Digital Journalism in the ’90s. Times of India, The Hindu, and The Indian Express were the pioneers.

Digital journalism is an interactive medium where the comments and reactions to a story are quick. Students wishing to become journalists need to be familiar with many digital skills in order to compete with the competition. Today, journalism is evolving from a lecture to a conversation.

GROWTH OF DIGITAL MEDIA

Journalism originated in printed forms. With time we have seen growth and development in technology and electric communication. Next to China, India has the highest number of Internet users. With low-cost devices and better 3G/4G internet speed, the traditional journalistic landscape is giving way to online journalism.

Today instead of reading papers people read blogs. Instead of watching television people watch Youtube. Chatbots on WhatsApp and messenger have also made it possible to deliver news, stock market updates, and other relevant information. This change in consumer behaviour is favourable has led to the growth of digital media.

People are relying more heavily on platforms that can deliver news when audiences want it rather than at appointed times- a sign of growing “on-demand” news culture. Their desire can be achieved digitally.

Companies are now focusing on artificial technology. With time Artificial Intelligence has also played a key role in highlighting the emerging potential of technology. It has helped in providing automated news delivery on digital platforms.  Xinhua, the state news agency of China, unveiled a virtual news anchor that has the ability to deliver news on its website and social media platforms. It is equipped with modern technology that helps it to learn from live broadcasting videos, it can also simulate human voice, facial expressions, and gestures, and can also read texts as naturally as a professional news anchor 24 hours a day.

Various applications are developed which provides news in a very sorted way. Applications like google news, apple news are easy to use and require only internet connection and a smartphone which has become a necessity in today’s world. Applications like InShorts provide a 60 words summary which makes the readers easy to comprehend.

How do people receive news today?

  • Yahoo
  • Google
  • Social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn
  • You tube
  • Websites of newspapers/magazines

EROSION OF NEWSPAPERS AND TELEVISION NEWS

Newspapers and television news remain an important source of news among the older generation. They still prefer to read their news this way, which is because they have traditionally used it over the years and so do not wish to change or simply do not know how to go online.

However, newspapers, the oldest form of communication are facing tough times. It cannot offer the public as much as the internet is doing- audio and videos precisely. More than 50% of today’s youth go for online news. The older generation will leave and today’s youngsters are the future of tomorrow. There is no reason to believe that a generation that has grown up with and enjoys digital, on-demand and mobile-video viewing will prefer to live scheduled programming tied to a single device just because they grew older.

With Internet comes the global distribution of information and knowledge at lower costs. People have access to any information they wish. Internet is just a fingertip away for any kind of info. With smartphones becoming favourite newspapers have been missing from our daily schedule. Online versions of newspapers, corporate ownerships and social media are playing as huge contributors to the decline of the printed papers.

Due to cheap imports of newsprint, the domestic production of newsprint in FY19 saw a steep fall of 23 per cent on-year.

During the recent lockdown, the government had also prohibited door-to-door delivery of newspapers. The Indian printing industry is among the highly suffering industries at the hands of the pandemic.

Past few years, children would wait for a Thursday to read their favourite, “Telekids”. Crosswords were their favourite part of the “Telegraph”. I doubt if today’s generation is aware of the same.

Advertisers were once the real customers for newspapers as advertising accounted for most of their income. After the decline in paper industry, media outlets grew profits by giving out news through online articles. Advertisers changed their tactics to make profits. They became unwilling to sell their ads in printed papers. The lower cost and data available from digital advertising has been attractive to businesses. It is new, it is fast, it is trending.

Humans are curious in nature. They are social animals and need gossip. This gossip news is received from social networking sites. In the past few years, the only medium that saw audience growth was online. Everything else, from local TV news to cable to newspapers saw declines. Cable TV audiences were down by more than 20 percent. Social networking sites allow people to communicate and discuss over matters. They don’t need to wait for the next morning to get an update. This piece of technological platforming disadvantages the traditional news media which cannot respond as quickly as internet does.

This development has impacted journalism as well. Gone are the days when we had a scheduled time for watching television news in our living rooms. Today, we have what we want and when we want. It’s up to us when we want to sample it. Though, television news remains an important source for many, younger generations are moving from traditional television to digital platforms. Second screens are now becoming the first news. Missing PM Modi’s speech at 8 pm sharp is not a problem at all. You can access it on your mobile phones any time you want. This has become a major challenge for television journalism. It challenges the role television news has played over the last half-centuries. It challenges the business models underwriting commercial television news.

Although, today newspapers and television news have not disappeared completely, the Internet has become the more dominant source of news today.

While conducting the survey the response received is shown below.

survey on source of news used in the  last week
Survey: Author Compilation

We see that Social networking sites have received the highest number of votes followed by Websites of Newspapers/ Magazines.

SURVEY ANALYSIS

As stated earlier, the responses of 88 individuals is recorded and analysed.

DIGITAL MEDIA VS PRINTED NEWSPAPERS/MAGAZINES

68.2% i.e. 60 out of 88 individuals voted for Digital Media;

12.5% i.e. 11 individuals voted for printed newspapers

preference of digital journalism to printed newspaper and magazines
Survey: Author Compilation

BENEFITS OF GOING ONLINE

  • Contents reach faster than printed media;
  • Can be accessed anytime through laptops, smartphones and tablets;
  • Can choose to read in different languages and adjust font size;
  • Can download applications of online-newspapers;
  • Notifications popping on screens act as a reminder;
  • Live events can be shared in minutes using audios, videos and pictures;
  • Customise content as per interest;
  • Can forward it to friends and participate in the learning process;
  • Can access news of any day from the past;
reason on digital journalism
Survey: Author Compilation

DO YOU BELIEVE MORE IN PRINTED NEWSPAPERS?

The response shows that even today, printed newspapers are a more trusted source than any other platform.

survey on trust in printed or digital media

IS FAKE NEWS INCREASING DUE TO DIGITAL MEDIA PLATFORMS?

Only 4.5% i.e. 4 out of 88 individuals believe that fake news is not increasing due to Digital Media platforms.

The rest, though using this source majorly, believes that unverified news is increasing and is a home to rumours. The link between fact and opinion is blurred.

Citizen Journalism allows anyone to post anything. Journalists are also forced by employers to publish more news content than before, which often means rushing news stories and failing to verify the source of information.

As the world fights the Covid-19 battle, an “infodemic” of fake news also seems to be spreading.

Fake news, Fake news in time of coronavirus, covid-19 misinformation, Fake news against muslims, fake news in April, BOOM study on fake news, India fake news, Indian express
Survey: Author Compilation

The first Covid-19 fact check by BOOM was done on January 25, 2020.

Just as the virus is lodged in people’s lungs, dangerous ideas are affecting their minds. False predictions about the treatment of Coronavirus, Muslim vendors spitting on food items, suspecting that the family of the infected is also diseased were/are some of the major rumour topics. The notion that this disease can be cured drinking methanol, had led to more than 700 deaths in Iran.

journalism fake news by types

MOBILE JOURNALISM-NEWS IN YOUR POCKETS

A Dutch journalist, Trian Speil first used his mobile phone to cover a football match. The players did not bother about the devices in which the recording took place. He realised that he did not alter the holiness of journalism and this was how mobile journalism or MoJo came into existence.

With the birth of commercial touch screen mobile devices offering flat subscriptions on the internet, creation of news content began to flourish. MoJo has now become an essential part of skill for journalists.

The number of smartphone users in India has crossed 500 million and is expected to reach 850 million by the end of 2022. India’s data consumption has exploded, largely due to the entry of Reliance Jio in the market in September, 2016, with all other operators also offering cheap data tariffs. Mobile data traffic is growing as more Indians spend time streaming videos online. This rapid growth has been accompanied by a boom in digital journalism.

With this, the quick way of journalism is now accessible to all. Entertainment, news, social networking and online communication, all are available on a single affordable device. Photos, videos and audio can be recorded, created and edited on the phones and uploaded to servers which can be accessed by news channels or directly uploaded to even social media platforms. It is basically close to having an entire production studio in your pocket.

LOOPHOLES OF GOING ONLINE

You can’t have something good without it having issues too. 

It seems that online news portals are hankering after money. Accuracy is compromised for speed. Complete verification of information coming from the internet is almost impossible in a minute. With thousands of posts and tweets about a particular event, it becomes very difficult to verify what is true and what is not. Broadcasting this type of news can become dangerous.

When a lot of people access a particular website, it can crash and nobody can access it for a short while. Also, the immense size of cyberspace and the extent of information available may intimidate audiences and cause information overload.

Despite of the demerits, we know that Digital Journalism is the need of today’s hour. The advantages are far more than its demerits. It is the present of today’s generation and future of everybody.

THE DIGITAL FUTURE OF INDIA

Although newspapers remain popular today, they will gradually be replaced by the desire to read the news through electronic sources. This may be a sad loss but unfortunately, it is an unavoidable development. The pertinent question is that how long can Digital India delay the sunset of print India?

Our lives are full of screens. We keep them in our hands, pockets, next to our beds while we sleep. We have smart TV sets today to access Netflix and Prime videos.

Some media changes are revolutionary and not evolutionary. We cannot do without going digital today but we have to be very selective about what we choose to read and what we choose to believe. The transition to Digital Journalism is necessary and unavoidable. This is the world of websites and applications. But the cyber authorities concerned with it should act properly, must censor the content to avoid any ruckus.

For me, a little late news is much better than news made with haste having no content or unverified facts.

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