The Future of Journalism with Lauren Williams of The Bobby Pen

Lauren Williams, creator of The Bobby Pen

Lauren Williams, creator of The Bobby Pen

Journalism is different and the world of media is changing, but the future will always hold room for traditional sources of online media according to Lauren Williams, founder of  The Bobby Pen. 

It is becoming difficult to envision a future with traditional media outlets thriving, but Williams believes there will always be a place for it. There will always be news around, she said, whether you read it in a newspaper, look at it on television or see it through technology.

“As long as there are people who still do not consume online media, for instance, my aunt, who I’m living with right now, she’s 65 years old, she does not trust the internet very much. If it’s online, she’s not going to do it,” Williams said. “The newspaper is on her step every single morning. She gets news, a cup of coffee, and she’s going to sit and read it.”

There will always televisions in front of us, Williams said, even if they are 3-D and smell-o-gram enable. There will always be traditional media, she said, but it all depends on what the consumer wants.

“I’ve watched babies have smartphones in their hands,” Williams said. “I’ll be curious to watch the evolution of that. But for us millennials and tweeners, I definitely think there is still room for both.”

Williams said she’d been given the essentials in online journalism and multimedia from the start. As a freshman at Temple University in 2006, she said, her first journalism class began to chisel out the skills necessary to produce online content for online mediums. She continued her education in American University’s Interactive Journalism program in 2012 at the same time she re-launched The Bobby Pen, which originally started in 2010.

Her class was supposed to be a traditional print media class, she said, but on the first day of class her professor threw the class an unexpected curveball.

“It was a huge lecture. Definitely, at least, 300 students in the room. And our professor starts off, his first line, was ‘You’re all crazy to be here right now’,” Williams said. “We were all looking at each other like what? What does that mean? But it was because print was dying. You’re brave souls to embark on print journalism when the landscape is changing.”

And her professor was right–print journalism is dying and it has been for years. According to stateofthemedia.org, print journalism advertisement revenue in 2012 decreased by 45 percent since 2006. Overall, from 2003 to 2012, print ad revenues decreased from $44.93 million to just $18.93 million. In 2014, according to journalism.org, the freefall continued with ad revenues dipping down to $16.36 million.

Comparatively, online ad revenues, while still not reaching the ad revenue levels traditional print media boasts, have steadily increased. In 2004, online media raked in $1.21 million in ad revenues. In 2014, that number sits at $3.50 million.

The decrease in profitability of traditional print media represents the decrease of interest in traditional media as a whole. Television and radio are in better shape than traditional print media, but those landscapes are changing as well.

The traditional scope of the mass media has expanded from outlets such as newspaper print, television and radio broadcasts to grasp the digital hands of the internet captured within written HTML text, Javascrpit, .php files and CSS displays.

Now, rather than having to wait until tomorrow to hear about news that happens today, one can pull up the Washington Post on their tablet, smartphone or laptop and have that news instantly. We can learn nearly anything from YouTube videos and live broadcasts have become more and more prevalent over the years. Instead of watching shows for our entertainment on live television, we’re using stream service media tools like Netflix and Hulu to watch our favorite shows at the click of a button on demand.

Not only are these industries losing appeal in the eyes of advertisers, but the job market is changing as well according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Because of the decrease in ad revenue growth, jobs in journalism are becoming scarce and are projected to continue to decrease.

Employment of reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts is projected to decline 13 percent from 2012 to 2022. Employment of reporters and correspondents is projected to decline 14 percent while employment of broadcast news analysts is projected to show little or no change. Declining advertising revenue in radio, newspapers, and television will negatively impact the employment growth for these occupations

Bureau of Labor Statistics

But even with the decline in ad revenues and the fluctuation of the job market for media driven positions, there will still always be a need for news. Williams said young journalists are being introduced to online tools at an early age.

Even Williams, who starting creating online profiles early on in life, said she had experience with coding coming into Temple University as a freshman because of code and designs she laid out on her social networking profiles.

Media tools are hard to avoid with everyone having access to social networks and blogging tools. However, she said, the transition is not necessarily an easy one to make.

“I don’t want to say easy. I don’t think that’s fair because everyone has a different learning curve,” Williams said. “And I will also add that while the basic principles of journalism are the same, I’m not 100 percent sure that traditional print and online translate all that easily.”

Online media and traditional media have some similarities, but they are not the same, Williams said. Headlines are written differently for search engine optimization online, she said. Online consumers must understand the online market because of it’s different complexities and circumstances.

Some journalists do not embrace social media and online journalism, she said, because it can initially be intimidating. “It’s a different world to them,” Williams said.

Journalists used to be able to get their bylines in a high profile newspaper, she said, to be recognized. But now journalists must make themselves a brand and have an online presence.

The future of journalism and the future of journalists everywhere must have a unique skillset, Williams said, and in some cases it can be taught. However, with that being said, traditional media will always have a place in the future.

“We get news faster online because iPhones are always in our hands, but when I want to verify something I’ll always lean on those traditional networks,” Williams said. “I definitely think there’s room for both.”

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Hi! I'm glad you're here. My name is Michael Sykes, II, if you couldn't tell by now, and I'm a media professional.
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