100 articles – ‘Why the News Media Became Irrelevant – And How Social Media Can Help’

18 June 2010

Written by: Lawrie Zion

Why the News Media Became Irrelevant – And How Social Media Can Help‘  by Michael Skoler

You brought it upon yourself. Stop crying, the internet didn’t steal your homework. And no, you can’t blame the business model. You lost the audience and now you have to find it again.

Michael Skoler’s advice to modern journalists. Comforting isn’t it? He’s not surprised, let alone sympathetic, over shrinking audience numbers. In Skoler’s opinion, we’ve only got ourselves to blame.

This article by Skoler, a Reynolds Journalism Institute Fellow at the University of Missouri School of Journalism, was published in the Niemann Reports in 2009. Skoler wrote it because he believes journalists are out of touch with their audience. We’re serving up content at a quicker rate than ever before but the audiences are turning their noses up. The main problem? We forgot to take their order.

We spent far too much time preaching, assuming we were telling people what they wanted to hear. Now that they’ve found something that gives them what they want, ie the Internet, they’re leaving us in droves.

The good news is, we can follow them. We can beg them to come back to us or, we can jump on their happy bandwagon. As Skoler argues, there’s room at the internet party for journalists too; we just have to make sure we’re wearing the appropriate attire.

It’s time to stop assuming we know best and start letting the audience lead us by example. They love Facebook: great, let’s start our own page. Twitter is huge: let’s do some tweeting. By adopting the new ways our audiences communicate with each other, we might just find ourselves invited back in the conversation.

Choke down your humble pie, wipe the crumbs off your face and go after them. If you’ve got something to say, the audience still want to hear it. This time however, say it in their language and if they tell you it’s crap, take note.

Sarah Green has just joined the upstart editorial team and is a Master of Global Communications student at La Trobe University.