Looks like 2023 is nearing the end. The year 2024 is here, just a few days to go. There is no end to worry about how the next year will go. But thinking that any special result will be gained, the possibility of that is less. For those of us involved in the media, its future is not just about bread and butter. Even bigger—what would the world be like without a responsible media? Everyone will quote US President Thomas Jefferson in this regard – ‘If I were asked to choose between government without newspapers or newspapers without government, I would choose the latter.’
This year actually hasn’t gone very well for most media outlets. Traditional newspapers or television have long been heavily online dependent. A major part of their income is coming from here. And that’s where the shock hit hard. Media around the world have become dependent on online social media platforms such as Facebook or X (formerly Twitter) and search engines such as Google or Bing. These two mediums as a gift gave the media an opportunity to reach so many readers or so many people that it forgot to move itself and became a small Jagannath. In fact, in 2023, Facebook and Google rushed to make major changes in their algorithms as the media moved forward. As a result, the result of relying on these two mediums for so long is being felt by all the media.
Google will stop reading cookies in its Chrome browser from June 2024. Before this, artificial intelligence or AI has come as a new threat. The media is yet to decide whether it will be welcomed or rejected. And there is a shock in the income sector. Especially from Corona to the Ukraine-Russia war, the shock started from there, the latest addition is Israel’s Gaza operation.
The mainstream media is in danger of this. Added to this is their likes and dislikes. These likes and dislikes are so pronounced that they lose a large portion of the readership in the first place. This issue has been beautifully highlighted by the popular British weekly The Economist. Basically their discussion revolves around America. We will also be limited in it. But everyone will get logistics from here.
The weekly collected and analyzed 600,000 samples of mainstream American newspapers and television shows. The analysis shows that among the samples that are political, the press is losing its moderate position. Rather, most cases have leaned toward the Democrats. As a result, they are losing credibility.
Presidential election in the country next year. America has already been sharply divided into two camps, the Democrat-Republican, because of Donald Trump’s welfare. America has a very brutal history of this division. That’s a different matter. But because of this division, media outlets like New York Times, Washington Post, CNN have lost Trump and Republican supporters as their readers and viewers. Before the presidential election in 2016, Mr. Trump appeared on the stage and rejected all the mainstream media with the label of ‘unjournalism’. But the American public ate it up well. It would be wrong to say that he only ate, he is still eating. That’s why these media have been wandering in a certain limit of readers for a long time.
A little story needs to be told here. The story is from The Economist. James Bennett was in charge of the editorial page of the New York Times. May-June 2020. At that time, America was in turmoil after the killing of a black citizen named George Floyd by a white police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota. An article by Arkansas Republican Senator Tom Cotton was published on the editorial page of the New York Times. In the letter, Cotton urged the police to take measures to save lives and businesses of common people from attacks by rioters. And where to go? Riots in the newsroom of the New York Times. How was it written? The writing actually went by Bennett’s hand. As a result, all the blame falls on him. AG Schulberg, publisher of the New York Times, was able to contain this anger for only three days. Then on June 7, 2020, he asked Bennett to leave.
James Bennett now works for the Economist. The only reason this story came up is to show how intolerant journalists working at international newspapers like the New York Times are to dissent. As Bennett himself says, it is as easy as water to dismiss anything as progressive in the New York Times as conservative. As a result, a large number of American citizens do not agree with the role played by media such as the New York Times in their coverage of issues such as immigration, health care, abortion, and the right to bear arms. It has been seen that in these cases the news without comment retreats. And it takes place where opinion and news merge into one. That’s why most Republicans don’t even consider them.
Due to this identity, the media known to be progressive is already losing a large readership or audience. As a result, in a divided society, the readers of the media are also divided in the beginning. Another small example will make the matter clear. We are more or less familiar with the cable news network or CNN. CNN was founded in 1980 by Ted Turner and his associates. The pro-Democrat channel has long been at the top in terms of popularity. On the other hand, Rupert Murdoch, known as the media mogul, launched a TV channel called Fox News in New York in 1996. Fox became the mouthpiece of the conservative mainstream from the start and overtook CNN in the ratings within six years. So far CNN is lagging behind. Despite blindly supporting President Donald Trump, Fox has not lost its popularity. However, Trump lost the 2020 election.
If this is the case in a ‘free press’ country like America, it will be the same elsewhere—that’s only natural. Now whether progressives and conservatives can coexist in the same media requires a longer debate, but it is necessary. No time machine can turn back where the giant leap of social media and technology has taken society. As a result, you have to look ahead. And readers, viewers and listeners will keep the mainstream media alive. Hence one must think twice before neglecting someone.
Author: Executive Editor, Digital Division, Independent Television