Traditional Journalism is ‘Out of Touch’

We MediaIn a survey conducted by the firm Zogby Interactive for the website WeMedia, it was found that two thirds of Americans – 67% – believe traditional journalism is out of touch with what Americans want from their news. However, while there were dissatisfied, the survey also found most Americans (70%) think journalism is important to the quality of life in their community.

While these results may or may not reflect the realities here in Puerto Rico, one thing is clear. If they aren't relevant now, they will be soon. Take as an example one of the other findings, that there is a distinct shift away from traditional sources of news, such as newspapers and TV, to the Internet – most dramatically among so-called digital natives – people under 30 years old. Nearly half of respondents (48%) said their primary source of news and information is the Internet, an increase from 40% who said the same a year ago. Younger adults were most likely to name the Internet as their top source – 55% of those age 18 to 29 say they get most of their news and information online, compared to 35% of those age 65 and older. As I've said before, newspapers are dead, they just don't know it yet.

“For the second year in a row we have documented a crisis in American journalism that is far more serious than the industry’s business challenges – or maybe a consequence of them,” said Andrew Nachison, co-founder of iFOCOS. “Americans recognize the value of journalism for their communities, and they are unsatisfied with what they see. While the U.S. news industry sheds expenses and frets about its future, Americans are dismayed by its present."

I for one, concur completely with these results, naturally, otherwise why would I consider it significant enough to share with everyone. But I'll go further and explain why I believe that it is applicable to Puerto Rico. Let's review the facts, first El Nuevo Dia is the dominant news medium in Puerto Rico. While jointly, all of the local television stations combined, are important, in terms of circulation and share of advertising purchased, el Dia is the big Gorilla locally.

So let's start with, how do you feel about the quality of the journalism provided by El Nuevo Dia? Do you believe that it is objective and unbiased? Does it cover the breadth and depth of news that you require? How about from another perspective, do you ever have to go to another news source in order to obtain the news you require? How often? Well I think that should be enough for you to have come to your own opinion, now I'll share with you my perspective.

I think the El Nuevo Dia is a good newspaper. I like the variety for news they cover and I believe they do a fair job on some of the news areas I desire. I also like there frequent use of photography to tell a story. However, there are some areas where I believe their coverage is pathetic. Then in other areas, I believe that their coverage is more akin to a gossip magazine than hard news, especially where El Nuevo Dia is weakest, in the coverage of Politics and Government. I'm sure some of you are saying "WTF!" All they do is cover politic!, That, my friends, is I believe one of their weaknesses. They are biased when it comes to politics, in my opinion they favor the Popular Democratic Party. But further, I think they go for the low hanging fruit of politics, it's a topic that is obviously popular so they devote too much coverage.

Probably my biggest complaint is in their coverage of sports. If it ain't baseball or boxing , they just don't care. There is a hugeA sea of humanity world of sports out there and it deserves respectful and appropriate coverage. For instance, during the recent opening of the NCAA basketball tournament, the number of stories devoted to the hugely popular event, El Dia gave it exactly zero (0) articles. To my knowledge they didn't even give the scores. Don't even get my started on NASCAR or the Indianapolis 500, the largest single day sporting event in the world.

Now of course, this brings up my final point. To what extent does a newspaper need to cover news that is not pertinent to local citizens. Sort of by definition, all newspapers are local; that said a majority of their coverage should focus on stories that impact locally. So what is pertinent to locals? And the long tail aside, I'm sure there is always some news that a small percentage of people want to see, and space is limited or at least the amount of space they can use after they sell the ads is limited. So they clearly can't cover everything.

For me, I think their needs to be a balance, but unfortunately in my eyes, most news sources here focus too much on the local and there is no balance. There may have been a time when that was acceptable for Puerto Rico, but it isn't anymore. With a lot of people having cable, satellite television, and Internet the amount of people who are exposed to the culture and news of the United States is always growing. You'll also need to factor in the high popularity of movies, fast food, and shopping, the pervasiveness of American culture is extensive. This means that what impacts locally has grown to encompass a lot more areas and topics.

I believe that local news agencies need to accommodate the growing influence of American culture. And guess what, it's only going to get worse. As the survey indicates, when the under 30 crowd matures and has children, they will continue to look to the Internet for their news and begin to expect local news sources to match the stories and information that they deem important. When they don't respond, what do you think those families will do? As I said, a shit storm is coming for local media, and if they aren't responsive, they'll be caught outside without an umbrella.

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