It is essential to stay up to date with news in the media industry, as you never know how these events could impact you — whether you’re a journalist, or consumer. Take, for example, news about the COVID-19 vaccine; this is vital information that everyone should have, as it is a world event that affects everyone.

However, what you read today won’t be the same tomorrow, as the media industry is in a constant state of flux, with the world growing and adapting to new scenarios every day. And it’s up to journalists to keep audiences up to date on these ever-changing events.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at how media has changed in 2021:

1. Digital media continues to dominate

With people being more cautious than ever before, and continuing to social distance, consumers have been fleeing to online platforms to brush up on their social skills.

It’s on these platforms that users expect to gain information, be entertained and connect with friends or family. This means that more people are relying on online publications and social media for news rather than picking up an actual print newspaper or magazine.

In February, The New York Times published an article saying that they have officially topped 7.5 million online subscriptions. This just shows how serious people are about paying for quality journalism, and they continue to support digital media to have access to reliable sources.

2. Consumers are avoiding the news

Thanks to the wide spread of misinformation, readers are left with three options:
  • they can either pay a subscription to a reliable news source
  • they can learn how to identify fake news, or
  • they can just avoid the news all together.
Guess what countless readers have decided on? Yes, that’s right, avoiding the news.

The amount of people who say that they often or always avoid news has increased from 15% in mid-April 2020 to 22% in mid-May. This means that 59% of readers are actively avoiding the news, according to a study done by The Conversation.

Surprisingly, when confronted with the reason as to why they’re avoiding news, they did not attribute their justification to the spread of fake news.

In fact, 66% of them said that the main reason is because there are a lot of negative stories out in the world. This includes news about COVID-19, the lack of vaccines and other issues, such as the recent looting and riots happening in South Africa.

This type of news can cause peoples’ anxiety levels to rise, which means it might be time for online publications to dedicate a section to only positive news to ensure they don’t lose readers.

3. POPIA impacts how journalists report on news

With the Protection of Personal Information Act coming into effect on 1 July, there have been a lot of questions on how this will affect the South African media industry and how journalists will need to report on news.

According to Section 7 of the Act, POPIA does not apply “to the processing of personal information solely for the purpose of journalistic, literary or artistic expression to the extent that such an exclusion is necessary to reconcile, as a matter of public interest, the right to privacy with the right to freedom of expression.”

This means that as a journalist in SA, there needs to be a “balance between the right to privacy and the right to freedom of expression.”

Media goers, therefore, need to consider the following:
  • The processing of information for exclusively journalistic purposes.
  • The code of ethics they are bound by that adequately protects personal data during the processing of information.
This means that, although there is still some room to play in regards to how you report on certain stories, you always need to be cautious and ask yourself: “Can sharing this personal information cause any damage to the data-subject?” and “does the public truly benefit by seeing this personal information?” If your answers to these questions are ‘no’, then rather do not include it in your article.

What other changes have you seen or experienced in the media industry this past year? Be sure to let us know in the comments section below.

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Keen to learn more about issues the media landscape has faced? Then check out The problem with the media industry in 2020.
*Image courtesy of Pexels