How Data and the Digital Age Have Changed the Media Industry

Today, we have something called data at our fingertips. Before the era of digital journalism, we only knew who our readers were based on their subscription information. So, if you can remember subscribing to a newspaper on a piece of paper and mailing it to that newspaper's office, you might provide some information like your age, gender, your name, the neighborhood that you live in. Those become the demographic and psychographic points of information for that news organization. That's the information they had to go off of. Then, that is the information they sometimes use to make decisions about the pieces that they did. In the golden age of journalism, what we did see is reporting for reporting's sake, news of the day. The most important information was put on the front page. And you might find that information on a competing newspaper's front page as well. Nowadays, with data, sometimes newsrooms, news managers, and editors might make decisions based on really granular data that they have at their fingertips because people come to their websites and give over data that helps them understand, "Who are our readers? Where are they from? What are their likes and dislikes?" Especially with social media helping out with that data, we know our readers so much more today than we did before. There are some people who say in the industry that that's a great thing. We can find out more about our readers. We can serve our readers in a better way. There are others who say we depend on data too much, and we are making decisions based on the data that we have versus the news of the day and what is newsworthy. This is the conversation that is happening within newsrooms today. You might see over the next 10 to 15 years these legacy outputs that come from these news organizations, like nightly broadcasts or newspapers, lessen as digital properties grow.


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