Many news organizations have integrated their services to the Internet with websites connecting users to news stories. Those organizations have also offered their services to mobile applications, hoping to further expand their services to users. However, these organizations still need to turn a profit, and the click on a link doesn’t mean a penny in the pocket. With that said, organizations like The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal have set-up a form of security to certain exclusive stories called paywalls. Paywalls act as a firewall blocking users from accessing stories online unless they have a paid subscription to the website.
So is this just another way for big corporations to be mean to users of the Web, or is it simply a business strategy? It’s definitely business decision, and an ethical one at that. As stated before, a dollar isn’t made every time someone clicks on a story so it’s difficult to make money for a news organization on the Web. Paywalls are another way for news organizations to make money online besides constant advertisements. In a way, it’s the same as subscribing to a print paper but with more accessibility. The website for The New York Times even offers a joint deal where a user can subscribe for both online access to current and old editions of the paper, along with a print subscription. The user gets online access to the paper while the organization earns a new subscriber in 2 different forms of media.
It may seem mean to pay for access to the news, but if news organizations want to continue, they have to be financially sound. This is another way for organizations to earn money while tending to the new trends and technology of users. At least it’s not like the subscription comes with constant spam emails or annoying catalogues.
Facebook is off to 5th grade! Ok, clarification is needed for that: Facebook recently celebrated its 10th anniversary, 1.2 billion users strong. Facebook has certainly come a long way from the Harvard dorm room of Mark Zuckerberg, but how can it continue for another 10 years. People are always looking for new ways to express themselves online with Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, and other sites for people to post things about themselves. Recently, Facebook announced the purchase of WhatsApp, a mobile texting application with over 450 million users, for $19 billion. If Facebook is willing to go this far to keep a pulse on popular applications, what else can they do to be relevant for the next 10 years?
The last time Facebook made news before this new acquisition was when Facebook went public and presented their IPO at a pricey $38 per share. Facebook needs to be relevant to young people again by creating some new application that tends specifically to the youth of the world. The company was created by college kids for college kids to connect, so Facebook needs to observe how today’s college kids interact and connect through media. It’s understandable that Facebook wants to turn a profit and integrate with other applications, but it needs to remember what made it stand out, which are its users. Otherwise, Facebook could be on its way to the relevancy graveyard with Myspace.
News used to reach the eyes and ears of citizens through men shouting headlines at the bustling citizens of New York and Chicago. Today, some people can find the most popular stories yelling at them through their Facebook news feed or their Twitter feed. Today, news is more often broken and spread through social media sites. Social media sites like Facebook or Instagram post links to developing news stories and eye-grabbing headlines for users to focus on. Many newspapers, like The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and others have created Twitter accounts in order to give Twitter users brief headlines of today’s news. Hashtags can be developed in relation to a growing story, while Facebook posts have a common theme that can become “trending,” or popular amongst users.
These are not just gimmicks to tend to the young, tech savvy youth. Some very big stories have been broken online with social media. One story even broke a social media site: Twitter crashed on June 25th, 2009 when news broke that Michael Jackson had died. Facebook was the platform for New York Yankees legend Derek Jeter to announce that next season will be his final. Reed Hastings, the CEO of Netflix, took to Facebook to announce that Netflix customers had consumed over 1 billion hours of media. With that announcement, the SCC now allows major companies to disclose information on sites like Facebook. Social media sites are the new platform for news, emphasizing brevity and technological innovation for the next generation.
6 months ago, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos purchased the economically fledgling Washington Post for $250 million. Now Mr. Bezos’ intentions are not entirely clear, it’s going to be interesting to see what he plans to do with such a legendary piece of press. The reason this paper is so treasured is because of its glowing reputation as a paper presenting straightforward pieces of news. Famous for its publication of the Watergate scandal, The Washington Post has always been one of the premiere publications in this country (2nd only to The New York Times).
So why should we care about Mr. Bezos and his lavish spending? Well, for journalists it should be comforting to know that The Washington Post will not have any financial problems any time soon (Lord knows that Amazon isn’t filing for Chapter 11). Maybe it’s because Bezos could input some of his innovation into the newspaper. His online shopping company is used by most of the world’s population, so he could have a great idea to keep The Washington Post relevant (or at least carry on into the next generation). It will be really disappointing to find out that Bezos bought the paper out of ego, but someone who is trying to implement package delivery by flying robots must have some more ideas to give out beyond Amazon. For now, Jeff Bezos is certainly a man to keep an eye out for in the coming years.
Buzzfeed and the website for The New York Times seem like 2 totally different websites with 2 different audiences to attract. However, both have common features that make them popular spots to read news. Both are organized into different topics so that people can search for specific stories. The website of The New York Times has the layout of the front page of a typical paper, but it has tabs directing a user to sections of stories dealing with specific subjects. Buzzfeed has an opening page that lays out current and popular stories, but also has tabs that features separate stories also dealing with certain subjects. Both Buzzfeed and The New York Times have easy ways to find information online for free.
Although Buzzfeed is not as newsworthy as its printing counterpart, Buzzfeed can still be considered close to the same vein as The New York Times website because both are meant to provide breaking news stories. Buzzfeed gets its name from having buzz worthy stories on their page. The New York Times website has to be constantly updated in order to keep up with developing stories. These sound different, but they both have the common goal of keeping breaking news stories present. Both websites may have different presentations of themselves, but have the same purpose.
In class, we talked about how people are living in the television age of news. However, it’s important to note that the Internet is gaining headway. Is that something to be worried about? Not necessarily, because the Internet may be helping the news. The home page of the website of The New York Times looks like an expanded layout of the front page of the actual newspaper, with headlines that cover more than just the most popular headlines in news. The headlines come with photos that attempt to jump out and grab a reader, just like a newspaper would do. The articles on the website can contain links to previous articles, allowing the reader to know more about a story.
The Internet has allowed major news organizations to expand the delivery of news. Links to videos, previous stories, and photos can help a reader expand his or her knowledge of today’s news. Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter provide quick but effective headlines that lead readers to the actual articles. Newspapers online are helping take news into the next generation of technology. Television is still the mainstay of news, but in the next 15-20 years, more people will probably look to the web for most of their news because there is greater access to more information.
Where would you rather get your news from: a newspaper being read by the sharp-dressed men who work on Wall Street or as a one sentence post online from the same person who posted a funny cat video minutes before? You’d probably want the paper the Wall Street folks are reading, but even highly regarded newspapers like The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and others have integrated their delivery of breaking news onto Twitter. Now just because Twitter has to take the news and make it available in 140 characters or less doesn’t mean it’s a watered down version of the news.
In fact, Twitter may help attract more people to read more news. It helps tech managers create a headline that will reach out and grab a user. From there, a user can follow a link to read the full story and be better informed. Twitter has allowed news outlets the opportunity to present their services to a new generation. New technology always drives change in the media, so news outlets need to integrate anyway. There are negatives, but I believe the positives are much more important to note. The fact that major news outlets are willing to adapt to new technology is a sign that journalism is in no way dying, just in an awkward stage of development.