Developing News...

Small Japanese Manufacturers Face Tough Choices as Government Shifts Policy on Business Failures

For much of its 72-year history, Hitoshi Fujita's company...

J.D. Vance’s Transformation: From Trump Critic to Loyal Running Mate

Eight years ago, leading up to the 2016 presidential...

Shannen Doherty, Iconic ‘Beverly Hills, 90210’ Star, Passes Away at 53 After Battle with Cancer

Shannen Doherty, renowned for her role in "Beverly Hills,...

Ukraine Innovates with Secret Workshops to Build Cost-Effective Robotic Army for Defense Against Russia

Facing significant manpower shortages and challenging odds, Ukraine is...

The slow fading of traditional media

The consequences would be felt later when all traditional media is gone.

Last month, Reader’s Digest shut down its United Kingdom operations citing financial difficulties and low revenues. This is after 86 years in operation. In April, Buzzfeed announced that it was shutting down and Vice News announced bankruptcy.

Recently, heavyweights like Washington Post announced heavy losses which led to the CEO departing the company. Several newsrooms have also had to announce layoffs and cost-cutting measures to make sure they survive the harsh business and operating environment.

The beginning of the end?

The phenomenon of media houses shutting down or downsizing isn’t limited to the US or developed countries alone. In most developing economies like Kenya, several media houses have shut down abruptly with many citing dwindling revenues and a steep operating environment on top of punitive taxes.

Some journalists and scribes have reported going months without pay as their employer struggles to meet their obligations. The largest media house in Kenya, Nation Media Group, recently announced a huge layoff which was imminent and was expected to affect hundreds of employees.

Traditional media outlets have struggled to make back lost revenue due to declining newspaper sales and the shift of advertising expenditures to social media and other internet channels which is consuming a large portion of their former cash cow.

In South Africa, Daily Maverick shut down for 24 hours to highlight the real and imminent catastrophe facing the media industry and urged for action from stakeholders. Around 80 community publications, including Cosmopolitan, House and Leisure, and other titles published by Associated Media Publishing, were forced to close their doors in 2020. At the same time, major layoffs were announced at Media24, Independent Media, Tiso Blackstar, Primedia, and e.tv/eNCA.

What happened?

While it is difficult to pinpoint where the rain started to beat the media industry, several signs were imminent. The internet as a source of information was the first culprit to take away readers from newspapers to their computer screens.

Then came social media companies which accelerated the winding down of traditional media. More people are likely to get their information from sites like Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, or X than from newspapers as they are quick and “fresh” compared to newspapers where you have to wait for a whole day to get the news.

While the media industry adapted to the onslaught and set up accounts to communicate with their audience easily, their newspaper and ad sales plummeted since the justification for buying a newspaper when you could get the news directly from the feed of the media company easily dissipated.

The Chinese economic boom also saw the rise of affordable mobile handsets with internet connectivity becoming mass available even among low-income people and therefore increased internet connectivity in poor areas. Transsion, the mother company of Itel, Infinix, and Oppo is the largest smartphone manufacturer by sales in Africa.

More troubles?

The introduction of ChatGPT through OpenAI by the American entrepreneur Sam Altman completely changed the game in the media industry. 

All of a sudden, the ability to generate full copies of news segments or do several similar tasks was easily available. This led to the explosion of “AI” where several technology companies rushed to make tools that can give out knowledge while at the same time performing work done by several individuals in a newsroom.

Such an invention was the metaphorical last straw. Several employees were suddenly redundant as their jobs were now taken by machines. With the dwindling revenues, that meant newsrooms had to part with talented individuals and have machines replace them.

The effect has been seen and felt by both large and small media houses while journalists have borne the brunt of the harsh realities. Small media houses have fully shifted to the AI craze while mid-level and large media houses are having to contend with falling profits and revenue while justifying their headcount. Some are opting to sell their content to AI companies to get even while others are incorporating AI into their operations in a progressive capacity.

The chilling effects

Media has been traditionally the People’s Spokesman and has always spoken truth to power, exposed corrupt habits and individuals, sparked revolutions, and brought about change. Media has also been the main source of entertainment for many people around the world and also as a learning centre.

With its demise, it means information would be highly controlled and managed and this may lead to propaganda. Failure to highlight societal issues leads to a vacuum that is filled up with individuals known as “influencers” which is highly damaging since most don’t even know what to do with their huge platforms and may mislead people.

Media has also been the driver of economies by employing very many people ranging from journalists all the way to cleaners. Loss of such jobs occasioned by media houses shutting down means unemployment rates would rise and may lead to societal disorder and chaos. The wealth of many people would also be affected and this may lead to poverty,

Going forward

The old-school idea of going to a number of websites you have bookmarked is kinda dead. Majority of the people use things like Reddit and social media news aggregators like Mario Nawfal that aggregate things to get news which is mainly biased. Experts have called them new media and their biased coverage has caused tensions with their false and poorly sourced news making its way to mainstream media. 

For the media, as the ad dollars dry up and the competition gets tough and stiff, they have to go back to the drawing board and see what has to go and what has to remain if they are to ever survive. 

These outlets need to answer this one simple question though as they chart a vision for starting up or moving forward: Why should we turn to you for news instead of Facebook or the larger media landscape? The core mission of journalism itself hasn’t — and shouldn’t — change throughout the years. Rather just the delivery methods.

Newsletter

Discover

Small Japanese Manufacturers Face Tough Choices as Government Shifts Policy on Business Failures

For much of its 72-year history, Hitoshi Fujita's company...

J.D. Vance’s Transformation: From Trump Critic to Loyal Running Mate

Eight years ago, leading up to the 2016 presidential...

Shannen Doherty, Iconic ‘Beverly Hills, 90210’ Star, Passes Away at 53 After Battle with Cancer

Shannen Doherty, renowned for her role in "Beverly Hills,...

Ukraine Innovates with Secret Workshops to Build Cost-Effective Robotic Army for Defense Against Russia

Facing significant manpower shortages and challenging odds, Ukraine is...

Discover More

Steve Williams
Steve Williams
Steve Williams is an award-winning freelance reporter, with a focus on narrative non-fiction stories about current affairs