How the Economy and Technology Are Changing Our News

When the economy started tanking in 2008, it wasn’t just homeowners that were put out on the street. Journalists were too, by the thousands.

Michael Mandel estimated on Bloomberg Business Week in September 2011 that roughly 20,000 journalists were lost in just one year. That’s around a 20% loss across the board. A fifth of the workforce, gone just like that.

Like many industries, journalists that survived cutbacks at television stations, radio stations and newspapers were left to pick up the slack of lost colleagues. The news cycle and story count wasn’t going to suffer because of the dramatic drop in budgets and work force.

With less staffing in most newsrooms across the country, a great need developed for new technology and delivery platforms that could counter-act the problems of deep staff and financial cuts.

Fast forward to today… More details please


That’s right, as big as media is today, there is still an audience news organizations pay attention too. In the past five years media platforms have grown from traditional delivery methods like television, radio and newspaper to internet, RSS news feeds, social media and blogs.

The proliferation of media into new platforms was driven by the habits of watchers, listeners and readers. The media’s audience no longer needs to watch at a certain time or buy a newspaper. They get what they want when they want it in just a couple of minutes from a laptop, tablet or mobile device. Online delivery gives newsrooms a global audience and the ability to increase advertising revenue from the constant demand of online content. The faster the news, the more virally it can spread.

Everyone wins, right?


New media platforms are speeding up the delivery of news at an unprecedented rate. In an “I gotta have it and I need it now” age, media organizations today can publish news to its audience in not just minutes, but seconds.

Subscribers to various news wire services can turn 1000 words of wire copy into a compact 250 word article and post it almost instantly. To do this, media doesn’t have to make a phone call, perform a background check or even make sure the story was properly vetted.

Updates or “teases” to coverage on Twitter and Facebook can be posted in seconds and can be very powerful statements framing the context of the story a reader or watcher is following.

Finally, many media organizations today allow viewers to send in pictures and video of stories they may come across. This kind of mobile technology has opened the door to stories none of us may have ever heard about.

The speed of news today is convenient and powerful, but it also has drawbacks.


As news delivery changes, more and more reporters are relying on other news and police reports to quickly “source” the information they publish to get it out. The ethical process of reporting a story is already tarnished by this stage. Here’s why:

FIRST: Police and Government generally aren’t subject to libel or defamation actions. Police reports carry a lot of power in media and in some organizations, at least initially, are not questioned.

NEXT: Media can take a police report and site it as “fact” without legally needing to contact the subject of the story to get their side. As long as the information published comes from a police report and is properly attributed, media is generally protected from libel and defamation.

MEDIA ON MEDIA: When one media organization sites another media organization’s information, they most likely never took time to look into the story or the particular element on its own (the reason they site/attribute another entity or one they aren’t partnered with).

THE RUB: Media organizations usually have legal departments or attorney’s on-call year-round ready to protect the company from lawsuits. Some media even carry insurance that covers them in the event of a lawsuit. Even if an irresponsible media organization loses a libel or defamation case the chances are almost 100% the ruling would be reversed on appeal. The majority of case-law from Appellate Courts to The Supreme Court overturns cases on the basis of free speech under The First Amendment.

CONSEQUENCE: For people on the receiving end of false allegations published by media based on a police report, it is almost impossible to get vindication because of how expensive and lengthy a libel or defamation lawsuit can be. Further, it is very hard for the “little people” to ever get equal media coverage when they are found not guilty, charges are reduced or dropped altogether.

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