With the shock announcement of Dubai One shutting down TV production, we ask – has online reporting and social media removed the need for TV news in the digital age?
“YES” says Nick Rego, Senior Editor, AskMen Middle East
This is a digital age – with people spending more and more time outside and on the move, there’s often no time to sit down and watch a full-length TV broadcast
While we can always applaud the efforts and standards that go into reporting TV news, the fact of the matter is that we are moving quickly to a purely digital age. People consume media on so many different platforms and devices – when was the last time you sat down to really watch the 7pm news? We get updates and headlines from social media at a rate that’s much faster than anything a TV station may be able to pull together.
What we’ve also seen from social media is more ‘guerilla reporting’ from people who are at the site. Citizens have in many cases risen up to provide up-to-date coverage of events; long before a TV crew has been able to reach (or even be allowed to approach) a particular site. Because you have someone reporting who actually lives there and is experiencing events first-hand, you feel more connected to them, and want to know as much detail as possible. TV news tend to filter out what they deem unnecessary for a broadcast, and often look for ‘shock’ coverage that will get more people to tune in to a broadcast. Anyone else covering an event using social media just wants to get the news out there to the masses.
Where online reporting and social media also have an added advantage is that there is no hidden agenda behind the coverage. As mentioned before, some TV coverage is often gleamed over and edited to only show one side of a story of conflict. The openness of social media platforms means that anyone can comment on a tweet or post and air out their side of a story. It isn’t a one-way conversation as with watching the news on TV – here you can interact and have your say in what is going on halfway across the world.
The important thing to observe is that this is a digital age – with people spending more and more time outside and on the move, there’s often no time to sit down and watch a full-length TV broadcast. If a TV station still wants to provide TV news to its audience, then their best bet is to just have their channel broadcasting online. Truthfully speaking, we might not see players such as CNN doing only a digital broadcast anytime soon, but eventually we’ll come to a point where getting news updates will be as simple as unlocking our smartphone.
“No” says Matthew Priest, Editor-in-chief, EDGAR magazine and EDGARdaily.com
Instant access to endless reams of information is the mastery of the digital age, but… to state that the rise of online reporting and social media is the death of TV news is both premature and ill advised
I am, by all accounts, a technophile. I’ll happily admit that the first thing I do in the morning is browse the news headlines on my phone, and then over breakfast have a quick scroll through my Twitter and Facebook accounts on my tablet for anything that I’ve missed. Instant access to endless reams of information is the mastery of the digital age, but having established that, to state that the rise of online reporting and social media is the death of TV news is both premature and ill advised.
With the speed and accessibility of the internet, online culture has developed around ease of access and skim reading – in fact, I’m willing to bet that most of you have just skim read that last sentence. If a page takes too long to load, people will likely look elsewhere. The same tends to happen if a news story is more than 300 words long: too long, not interested. It is too often the case that people – myself included – will only read the news headlines before moving on to another page. The world’s biggest issues condensed to fewer than 30 words.
Despite the fact that TV news bulletins may not be as instantly accessible, they do offer a valuable alternative – a clearly ordered round-up of the day’s top stories, explained and accompanied by interviews and analysis from experts. Thanks to the size of the news teams, large budgets and access to official information and high-level contacts, channels such as BBC News, CNN and Al Jazeera have the ability to report stories in a more in-depth manner, with greater levels of investigation and insight. It is also notable that because of the infrastructure of TV news channels, they are generally better equipped to report on bigger events such as flooding or earthquakes with direct access to press conferences and official words from press offices, companies and spokespeople – which can be both informative and comforting.
While it can be argued that social media has made news real-time by giving everyone with a smartphone the potential to break a story, it has also facilitated the potential for a shoot-first-and-ask-questions-later approach to news reporting, rather than waiting to gather all the facts and accurately piecing together the story.
It is also important to note that, by its very essence, social media streams are personally biased. The stories that appear on someone’s feed come from sources they selected, and therefore are naturally skewed by personal bias with regards to ethical beliefs and geographical location. It is unlikely that a foxhunting enthusiast in Nepal will be following the @savethefoxesUK twitter account, or vice versa.
There is no doubt that the rise of social media and online reportage has revolutionised the news industry – much like the advent of 24-hour news channels did before – however, it is my opinion it has risen to accompany TV news reporting and not to replace it.