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The Impact of New Media on Traditional Sources

January 25, 2023

Some have decried social media as the “death of journalism,” but this isn’t a new complaint. In fact, the downfall of “traditional journalism” has been a point of contention since the emergence of television first threatened newspaper readership in the 1950s. The truth is that new platforms have forced traditional media to adapt and evolve—often for the better.

It’s no surprise that the way we consume news has drastically changed over the past several decades. Instead of relying on print media or television and radio broadcasts to stay abreast of current events, we have podcasts, Reddit, Twitter, TikTok, and highly specific blogs--all available on our smartphones.

At Nexis, we’ve been tracking how traditional media has changed for over 45 years. In this article, we examine the ways in which different media adapt to stay relevant. Here’s what we found.

Traditional media adapts to new trends

Readership of print media and subscribers to cable news might be shrinking, but that has only motivated the fourth estate to get creative with its reporting.

Take TikTok as an example. The app, which curates short (and often ridiculous) videos for its users, has a significant following of individuals in the 18-29 age range—and many in this age group aren’t engaging with “traditional media” in the way previous generations have.

Rather than fret about stagnant or declining audience share, some “traditional media” outlets recognized an opportunity to expand their reach. Several public media organizations have harnessed the power of TikTok to share stories about science, news, cultural events and more.

“Teenagers today are increasingly unlikely to pick up a newspaper or tune into TV News, instead preferring to keep up-to-date by scrolling through their social feeds,” notes Yih-Choung Teh, Group Director for Strategy and Research for the UK-based communications regulator Ofcom. “And while youngsters find news on social media to be less reliable, they rate these services more highly for serving up a range of opinions on the day’s topical stories.”

More: How Misinformation Spreads on Social Media—And How to Combat It

The importance of social media

It seems that this pivot to using new media to disseminate important news and information to select audiences is working: a recent study indicates that 33% of TikTok users now use the app to seek out news.

The meteoric rise of social media--as well as the advent of smartphones--hasn’t just changed how society consumes news, it’s also revolutionized how journalists source and report their stories.

In fact, one study from Pew Research reports that roughly 87% of journalists say that social media has a very positive or somewhat positive impact on their ability to promote stories. Furthermore, about eight-in-ten say it helps their ability to connect with their audience and find sources for stories (79% each). 

Clearly, new and emerging media aren’t the “death of journalism,” after all.

The future of new media

We can expect new media—and media that haven’t even emerged yet—to continue shaping the information-sharing landscape for the foreseeable future. We can also expect to learn many more valuable lessons in the years to come, especially as these revolutionary new outlets bring up new perspectives and challenge the application of existing laws and ethical guidelines around the globe.

No matter what happens in the future, though, the major principles of research, fact-checking and situational awareness that have been the foundation of “legacy media” for decades will still be relevant for bloggers, podcasters, influencers and journalists alike.

That’s where Nexis for Media Professionals comes in. With Nexis, you get quick and easy access to news archives that go back 45+ years, giving you unprecedented context and background on people and events. If you’re ready to take your reporting to the next level, sign up for a 7-day free trial today!