The Struggles of Modern Journalism

One of the most unique things about our current society is the vast difference that we see from the present, to even ten years ago. While some components of our modern society are remarkably beneficial for us, there are other components that have began to struggle as the years have gone by. One such component is journalism, which, is what you are reading now.


Since the formation of newspapers, the importance of journalism has grown exponentially. In the year 900 BCE, journalism may have been regarded as the news that you received from your friend, which could vary depending on the person. However, since then, journalism has become a respected profession of investigating stories and reporting them to an audience, which in our case, is the rest of the world. For us, journalism can be reported in many different ways such as newscasts, articles, and scientific reports. Despite this, modern journalism is beginning to suffer for several different reasons.


First, the total ad revenue being collected by newspapers has dropped very significantly in the past ten years. According to Pew Research in 2014 newspapers collected $16.4 billion from print ads in comparison to 2004 in which they collected $46.7 billion from print ads. That is a loss of $30.3 billion in print ad revenue, however, there is digital ads gained revenue during the same period, but not significantly. In 2014 newspapers collected $3.5 from digital ad revenue in comparison to $1.5 billion in 2004, meaning they gained $2 billion in that respect. However, they had a net loss of $28.3 billion in ad revenue from 2004 to 2014. This large decrease in revenue resulted in the laying off of many full time employees and stop of full time, seven day newspaper distribution. These factors lead into the second reason why modern journalism has suffered.


The second factor in the struggle of modern journalism has been the debate over what gets published. Since the laying off of many full time reporters, many newspapers have had to make choices between two things that they want to work on, and the consumers put the wrong pressure on writers when determining what to write about.

For example, say there are two stories that are being considered. In the minds of most newspaper companies, the biggest thing on their mind is money, so naturally they are going to chose the story that will get more money. The problem with this is that stories such as local corruption, scandals, and important community issues will likely not be reported on, due to their lack of what some might call “clickbait.” This lack of clickbait results in stories that are not important to the general public, but rather that garner more attention from people, being published.

In fact, the former owner of the Tribune Publishing Company, Sam Zell once said this when asked about readers wanting to hear about puppies verses importance issues. “Hopefully we get to the point where our revenue is so significant that we can do puppies and Iraq.” This type of journalism is unacceptable in our media because the public needs to be informed about important issues.

Quite frankly, that is why we at the York-hi take time to publish content that might not be clickbait, but is important for our readers to understand. However, there is one way that some newspaper companies, such as the Washington Post, have gotten around this debate and the money issues. That is, by obtaining a rich investor who is fine with getting losses. In the example of the Washington Post, Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, bought them and has given money to help fund good journalism work. In some cases this has worked, and in others, it has not. There still however, is one more factor that really makes modern journalism so difficult. The readers views on the journalism itself.

With the Trump administration settling into Washington, the media has been under constant fire from Trump. Trump has called major stations like CNN “fake news” and has described the press as “the enemy of the American people.” This presents the third major factor in the struggle of modern journalism, trust.

According to Gallup, trust in the media has dropped from 55% in 1999 to 32% in 2016. That is a drop of 23% in a span of 17 years. This presents a major hurdle for many newspapers and media outlets who are doing journalistic work. People are inherently not going to pay attention if they don’t trust the news source from which it is coming from.

On a political level, this is in most part due to Republicans. Again, according to Gallup, as of 2016, 51% of Democrats, 30% of Independents, and 14% of Republicans trust our media. Now this isn’t to shame the Republicans, however, it is worth noting who believes what in our media today. The rise of “fake news” and “alternative facts” are two of the factors that brought Trump to the White House, and it will be important to see how the trust in our media continues to worsen or get better. For now though, if some newspapers and media outlets can’t get journalism out to people, it will present a huge challenge for the journalists who want to continue to serve their vital role in our democracy.

So now, how do we help the journalism community in their struggles? Well, for starters you can buy subscriptions to news outlets that do great investigative journalism such as the Washington Post, the New York Times, and ProPublica. You can also take it upon yourself to advocate for substantive stories that people need to be informed about and encourage journalists to cover things like town hall meetings and not clickbait. If we all work together we can help journalists around the world continue the amazing job that they are doing, and preserve the foundation of journalism for generations to come.