Another nail in the news coffin

I worry that Millennials are not getting the amount of news that my generation did. They are not getting it from newspapers, news websites, or from any traditional source says a study from the American Press Institute:

newspapers-rip

“Much of the concern has come from data that suggest adults age 18-34 — so-called Millennials — do not visit news sites, read print newspapers, watch television news, or seek out news in great numbers.”

Instead, this generation spends more time with their phones on social networks. The concern is that Millennials’ awareness of the world is narrow; that their discovery of events is incidental and passive; that news is just one of many random elements in a social feed.

Rather than going directly to news providers, this generation’s news is woven into a continuous connection to the world. It’s mixed into their social connection, into problem solving, social action, and entertainment.

My worry goes beyond any one news source to the necessity of news for an informed citizenry. It’s one of the keystones of a democracy. It’s so important that freedom of the press is enshrined in many constitutions. But what good is freedom of the press when the press ceases to exist?

What makes me optimistic is that, while the source of news may not traditional, their thirst for news is. In a survey done by the Institute, 85 per cent of millennials agree that “keeping up with the news is at least somewhat important to them,” and that 69 per cent “get news daily.”

Less encouraging is that only 40 per cent “pay for at least one news-specific service, app, or digital subscription.”

This is the way the news dies. Contrary to popular opinion, there is no free news. With the demise of newspapers, reporters are laid off. News websites employ only a few reporters because advertising doesn’t support more. Fewer reporters mean less investigative reporting. Less investigative reporting means that the seedy underbelly of the corporate and political world is never exposed.

If I supported conspiracy theories, and I don’t, I would concoct a conspiracy in which big business and corrupt politicians have brought down newspapers and encouraged a paucity of news websites in order to keep their dirt from seeing the light of day.

Leah McLaren speaks for millennials in her newspaper column (yes, the dead tree news). She admits that she doesn’t get news from newspapers (yes, like the one she writes for) or websites. “Nope, most of us get our news and information from that endlessly unfurling, murky river of politicians, gossip and kitten videos known as social media. And that brings us to another, more pressing problem: How can we filter out all the crap.”

One way to filter out all the crap, she says, is ad-blockers. While admitting that ad-blockers remove and ad revenue, the life line of a website, it gets rid of the annoying expense that eats up time, patience, and data limits. But why would advertisers pay for websites if their ads won’t be seen?

The death of newspapers was one blow. Ad-blockers are another nail in the news coffin.

 

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