News has travelled around in one way or another throughout humanity, be that through word of mouth, messages written on stone or the more modern methods we use today.
There have been many factors that have influenced news coverage throughout time and here are some of the considerations to take in from recent years:
Desire for relevant, personalised news
Broadcast news stations and newspapers tend to be quite general in what they choose to cover, choosing what they view as the pieces which would have the most importance in a person’s life.
Although this makes a lot of sense for media to generalise their audience and attempt to appeal to as many viewers as possible, the rise in the number of different press platforms has caused their audience to drop in general.
Nowadays there are a huge number of podcasts and trade publications (specialist websites/magazines) covering pretty much any topic imaginable. This means that people can now choose to listen or read more information that they are personally interested in, rather than general news.
The desire for specialised information is one of the many reasons why press releases still hold a critical place in the media today because they are targeted to relevant publications who could be interested in the news they provide, therefore, supplying the audience with more information that they could be interested in.
The rise of The Athletic, an online sports news source, has shown just how successful a trade publication can be. By providing readers with relevant and detailed personal news, the trade publication now has over 1.2 million subscribers, more than nearly all national newspapers in the UK.
Impact of technology
The advancement in technology has truly shaken up media coverage. The internet has provided quicker access to information from around the world and people reporting things themselves through social media platforms, such as Twitter, has impacted newspaper sales.
Print media has wisely embraced technology to a large extent by opening online platforms of their news and using social media to channel potential viewers to their coverage. Nonetheless, the Audit Bureau of Circulations reporting that the most popular newspaper in the UK, The Sun, has faced pretty much a year-on-year decline since 2001 and has dropped from 3.1 million printed newspapers sold in January 2009 to 1.4 million in January 2019.
There was once a time where physical newspapers were a necessity for anyone wishing to find out anything about their country or more so the rest of the world but they have taken a huge hit due to technological developments. Although the rise in broadcast news didn’t affect their sales hugely, the rise in the internet certainly has.
As someone who studied a journalism degree, I clearly see a future for news publications to continue because the need for people to find out accurate and reliable information will also be there, however, the format in which people receive this information will continue to shift as the years go on.
The Athletic’s success has also shown how successful developing an online platform can be. Embracing technology and using a subscription model for viewers to access their news has allowed the platform to reach a global audience and make sure readers are always accessing up to date and interesting information.
From a time where broadcast news was seen as the modern and new format over print media, online news has quickly taken up that mantel.
Changing political news
The introduction of independent bodies regulating the practices of the press has hugely impacted the ways in which media acts across the UK. IPSO’s Editors' Code of Practice monitor the written media in the country, while Ofcom’s Broadcasting Code has taken care of any issues around television and radio newscasting. These bodies have provided a fair and free press, while ensuring media law is followed.
While many sections of press coverage have been heavily politicised, the Ofcom Broadcasting Code has assured that broadcast news isn’t particularly biased. In the US, networks like Fox News have pushed political coverage to new grounds with highly opinionated and unbacked opinions paramount, but stations like BBC News and Channel 4 have stayed clear of this style. Recently, a new right-wing network in the UK, GB News has pushed this by trying to create a more biased outlet for the public. However, its low number of viewers have shown this new method has had very little effect to the UK press as a whole.
This opinion-based media does have a strong footing in UK society, with shows such as Good Morning Britain providing its presenters a platform to present whatever thoughts they may possess, even if they aren’t hugely supported ones. Despite this, actual news coverage tends to be kept separate on television and radio, while the written media continues to show extreme bias.
This bias from newspapers, such as The Sun showing its position on the right wing and the Daily Mirror on the left, has shown the power of media in covering political news. Caricatures demeaning leading politicians and witty headlines to praise the paper’s favourite politicians have become common place. While it is hard to compare the bias in the English written press to that of the US television networks, this bias is still capable of influencing the British public to vote one way or another.
There have been many other factors which have drastically changed how press coverage is reported and viewed but the fact of the matter is, as society continues to develop, so will the coverage of the media. It is the job for publications to keep up with these developments to ensure they aren’t left behind when the next big evolution occurs.