By Farman Nawaz
Since the emergence of the internet and social networking sites, the media industry has applied different approaches to save the dying journalism sector. So far however, an effective business model for journalism could not be framed.
However the fact is that journalism is not dying but rather the journalism industry has failed to provide an effective alternative business model that can reengage the readers who are busy in sharing news items and commenting on it on social networking sites. Social networking sites have simply facilitated the viewers to share and modify the contents and allowed them to comment on the items that their friends have shared or uploaded.
Traditionally, the journalism industry has sold its viewership to advertisers and today the same technique is being used by social networking sites. These sites are using the creativity of its users to attract the young people and advertisers as well. But these sites are neither the source of authentic information nor having the quality of balanced news items.
In the new setup, social networking sites have deprived the news media of its readers and distribution network on one side and facilitated the common people to participate in the accumulation, distribution and modification of news items on the other.
To attract the readers and viewers, the news industry created its social media pages and uploaded their video content to videos websites. But it ultimately helped the social networking sites to expand their network and to attract the advertisers.
Simple webpages, contents variety, and distribution via RSS or subscription cannot compete with social media
News media tried to save journalism by propagating the concept of its importance for democracy and as a social watch dog. It was also uttered that in the future news organisations will take the shape of non-profit organizations. However the fact is that news media has so far not been able to present a technological solution to social networking sites. Simple webpages, content variety, and distribution via RSS or subscription cannot compete with social media.
The new business model for revival of journalism should be based on three pillars that is content, integration and distribution — the CID Business Model for Journalism.
Traditionally news items are prepared on the basis of 5 Ws and an H and keeping the story balanced. But the competitors on social media sites just prepare a news item consisting of a few sentences and then it goes viral.
In the new model, the contents will be based on the same old principle of 5 Ws and H, but the registered readers will be allowed to use user-friendly Critical Discourse Analysis technique to express their opinion. However how it will work?
The news industry will have to create a common platform in shape of websites and smartphone apps to register the users. Every reader will be asked to register using either its e-mail, contact number, or social media account. He or she would be allowed to like or dislike any particular portion or sentence of the news item. The users will also be facilitated to see what their friends have read, commented, liked or disliked. As soon as the users will open a page they will be asked to read the news item in standalone mode or network mode. Network mode will let them see what their friends were engaged with.
The news media site will also keep on compiling a textual and graphical report of the conduct of their users with the news items. It will keep on creating a new news item based on the likes, dislikes and comments of the users. It will help the readers, the media outlet and the source of the news to keep themselves abreast of public sentiments based on gender, religion, political affiliation, region etc. It will require new set of algorithms to get this done. Simple Content Management Systems (CMS) will not work in the implementation of the new business model.
The same mechanism will also be applied to videos. The users will be allowed to see which portions of the video were liked or disliked or most viewed.
The reason due to which the media houses lost its revenue and viewership is the distribution network of social networking sites. The new model will help the users to see which news websites have attracted their friends. It will guide the user to monitor the news traffic globally, regionally and their own network of friends.
Similarly using information technology skills and copyrights, the users will be banned to upload the contents to social networking sites. The specialised website/app will help the users to invite their friends to specific news items. Social Media websites would be allowed to share the content provided they pay for it.
Video sharing websites have facilitated the viewers to see the videos at their own pace and choice. It helps them to place ads even on old videos and to earn revenue. The news websites will have to link their fresh and old video contents or its portions with the text news.
The simple technique of creating news stories and recording news videos will not attract the readers. New websites based on new algorithms can save the future of journalism.
The writer is Media Manager at Federal Tax Ombudsman Secretariat, Islamabad
Published in Daily Times, February 7th 2019.