27 February of 2014
by Beril Akbasli, Abidin Önder Öndes & Emre Kurt
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness”, – A Tale of Two Cities (1859). This quote from Charles Dickens reflects some of the sentiment associated with innovation during the Industrial Age. These words apply equally to today’s Online Age.
Media has changed, not the values of journalism
Like everything else, media is changing. All the media corporations are trying to catch up with this transformation. Also, they are trying to find innovative ways to present their product to the audience. The media industry is adjusting itself according to user needs and demands. In addition, the consumers and the ways that consumers deal with the products, have also changed. People don’t want to read just a print newspaper anymore. Mostly they prefer to read the news from innovative platforms.
This new environment creates similar conditions for journalists and media companies all around the world. It creates common concerns that are more visible in some countries like Turkey where one can still feel the hegemony of traditional journalism. Bülent Mumay is the editor of Digital Media Coordinator in Hürriyet, one of the major Turkish newspapers. He states that, innovation does not affect the values and principles of journalism. He adds, “The rules of journalism and the way you do it did not changed. They do not need to redefine themselves.”
Thomas Spence, head of the Norwegian journalist union and journalist in the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten, states that despite reduced print readership and increased importance of digital formats, real journalists are needed in both print and digital platforms.
New challenge or new ability
It is acknowledged that innovation does not affect the rules of journalism. But it really affects the way the journalists cover the news. Clearly, this is a challenge for old-fashioned journalists. Moreover, this is a big challenge and competition for fresh journalists. Cemal Can Tüzüner, coordinator of digital media in Al Jazeera Turkey, explains this struggle: “Media houses demand a correspondent who knows how to use digital platforms. This is the definition of new journalism. Before it was enough to cover news for print newspaper. Today, a good reporter is supposed to get different content for each platform.”
“Internet doesn’t earn a tenth of print news”
Bülent Mumay explains one benefit of digitalization: “Transformation from print to digital gives you just one benefit: to cut costs. But digital journalism only earns a tenth of print news.” According to him, online newspapers are still not profitable enough. And this lack of income leads the companies to hire people who are not as professional as the journalists who work for print media. It also means that you don’t need high quality journalists. Therefore, there is a lack of editorial involvement in online newspapers.
According to Norsk Journalistlag, total print circulation fell by 4,4 percent in 2013, and reader figures were reduced by 3,7 percent in Norway. The reduction in print newspapers is a phenomenon one finds all around Europe. For example, The Sun, which has the highest circulation in the UK, has experienced declining circulation for 10 years. Especially in 2011-2013, circulation figures of The Sun fell dramatically. According to The Audit Bureau of Circulation, The Sun had a circulation in 2000 of 3,557,336 which dropped to 2,409,811 in 2013. Most print newspapers prefer to have an online version. Others start as digital news portals. This transformation nestles an unpredictable future for journalism. It also indicates concerns and conflicts. As Charles Dickens mentioned, transformation offers society happiness and sadness at the same time. We experience the shift from print to digital formats each time we enjoy our innovative devices. “It is the best times or the worst of times” (Charles Dickens, A Tale Of Two Cities.)