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The Changing Landscape for News

It is undeniable that the news industry has evolved drastically over recent years. Even

though news coverage will forever be necessary to keep the public informed and up to

speed, news outlets have had to adapt to meet the needs and behaviors of a more modern


One of the starkest examples of how the news industry has been forced to adapt was when

the Independent stopped printing physical newspapers and moving fully online, surviving off

of a subscription service since 2016. “The newspaper industry is changing, and that change

is being driven by readers. They’re showing us that the future is digital,” were the words of

the Independent’s owner Evgeny Lebedev.

Another indicator was a poll conducted by Press Gazette in 2022 which explored whether

people preferred consuming news online or from physical newspapers. The results showed

that 54% of people prefer online news content with only 29% preferring print newspapers

which also highlights how the print industry is falling behind in public opinion. On the other

hand, the only demographic that still prefers reading newspapers over online content is

those aged 55 and over. Although these consumers make up a notable portion of a

newspaper’s readership, it’s not going to be enough to counteract the steady decline in

newspaper sales which threaten a publication’s economic viability.

As an aspiring journalist myself, I would have been worried about how quickly the news

industry is changing. At first glance it would seem that newspaper journalism is a slowly

dying career path, and indeed other publications, both local and national, are likely to

sacrifice their physical newspapers in the wake of increasing demand for online news

content. Some papers already exist both in print and online such as The Guardian whose

online website encourages readers to donate £2 per month for maintenance, but they also

offer a £10/month subscription service offering perks like ad-free reading. This has been a

highly successful business model for The Guardian and other similar publications and may

be more likely to keep publications alive than putting their online articles behind a paywall

which severely limits their audience, and ultimately the portion of the population they have

influence over.

On the other hand, the broadcasting industry is also undergoing considerable change. As a

result of the growing presence of online news content, less people feel inclined to watch

BBC News at home when they can be kept up to date with the latest news wherever they are

using mobile phones, tablets and other portable devices. News apps are usually people’s

go-to news source when out and about, and a couple of these apps include BBC News and

Sky News, and articles written for such online sources are often shorter so that the key

information is easier to digest at a glance - with simple and concise headlines to catch the

audience’s attention when scrolling through the app.

The BBC may find itself in trouble soon as more people stop paying their TV licence and

start consuming news elsewhere. They do have an online presence being BBC iPlayer, but

compared to YouTube, the site is very niche and inconvenient in comparison. Being a public

service broadcaster, the BBC isn’t allowed to livestream BBC News live viewers on

YouTube, but they do upload short news reports which cater to a younger audience whose

attention span is considerably shorter than other age groups. However, Sky News has taken

advantage of this opportunity by setting up its own YouTube livestream which runs for 24

hours a day for anyone with an internet connection. In fact, there is stark evidence that

points to how pivotal the Sky News YouTube livestream has been to the online news

landscape. On the week the Queen’s funeral took place, BBC News’ YouTube channel

gained 100,000 subscribers, whereas Sky News’s channel gained 160,000 subscribers,

almost certainly due to Sky News’s YouTube livestream that allowed users all around the

world to watch the funeral proceedings unfold in real time.

To conclude, the news industry is needing to adapt significantly to meet the needs of people

today who now prefer consuming news online compared to in print. Whilst this change in

audience behaviour is particularly daunting for the print industry whose viability is hampered

by the noticeable decline in newspaper sales, there are many ways for both publications and

news broadcasters to expand their online presence and recapture their audiences lost to the

online world. Journalists will continue to play a key role in society online no matter how many

publications eventually decide to forego their physical newspapers to cut costs.


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