The NewYork Times in its latest 96-page internal report has admitted that they are not quite up to the game of connecting their impressive journalism with their readers.
This means that, with all the resources and really nice story-telling that comes with the NYT, readers are not quite bought in to getting the hard copy of the paper – or even reading it online. They prefer reading the news off Buzzfeed, Huffington Post and Business Insider – a few, however, subscribe to the NYT app, me inclusive.
It also faults the world’s best newsroom for concentrating ‘too much’ on its front page and neglecting its digital branch.
Because I contribute to the Buzzfeed, I may be a little happy at the development however my happiness is held back because I work at the Digital Section of the biggest newsroom in the country – The New Vision, and this doom is exactly staring at our faces.
The report says, readers are more glued to their social media feeds for news and take less bother to visit the traditional media spaces for news – we have lost relevance, in simple speak. Readers are not interested in the NYT homepage, we get that a lot back home even. Readers do not return or even stay glued to columnists – That I can’t quantify in home speak. On the whole, it seems,in my view, to suggest that tradition in the media has run its course.
In the past months, the speculation over relevance of traditional media houses has been at its highest in the country.
African Centre For Media Excellence, at their premier awards dinner last month, chose the topic of relevance of traditional media today and along with it was William Pike – a former Chief Editor at the New Vision and founder at Capital FM – to present it.
Pike had a few nice words for newspapers. That readers with the love for investigative, in-depth and reliable news will always buy a copy of the newspaper. I am positive, Pike and many more who share his view, will read this NYT report with squint eyes. The fact – infallible as it may seem – is that people are reading more sensation, spending less and less on reliability. Social media platforms are edging out papers, online news sites – those that sell sensation particularly are getting more and more traffic.
At the New Vision for example, Bukedde, the paper, together with its sensational news ‘agataliiko nfuufu’ are premier brands of the company whilst the news packed and investigative Sunday Vision continues to struggle to sell copies. At the digital desk, despite making less earnings for the company compared to the rest, we make facebook likes in the equal measure of all papers sold with just one good headline and short story strip. Can this be turned into revenue? – yes it can.
Should we sell sensation then? Should we move more resources to digital brands?
A chat with journalist friends of mine – Keith Muhumuza and Wilson Kaija, revealed to me that it’s not really that big media houses are traditional in their news coverage but the style of presentation of news to the reader has become less and less appealing.
The ‘He said, she said’ articles have gradually become boring and together with them are headlines as ‘URA recovers Impounded Ivory’ ‘Museveni Visits Napak’, ‘Christians Mark The way of the cross’ or even ‘MP’s throw out Officials’. This writing is leading us into the economic abyss.
Let me give you a tip of what I mean; Have a look at some of the headlines Buzzfeed used to cover the NYT editor Jill Abramson exit;
– Jill Abramson Will Not Remover Her NYT Tattoo
– Game of The Editors; The NewYork Times (complete this with inundations of Game of Thrones, a popular series)
Now lets see how the traditional media houses went about the headlines;
– Abramson’s Exit At The Times Puts Tensions On Display – New York Times (Really?)
– After Firing From Times, Abramson Talks About Resilience – Wall Street Journal
Does it reek of something different? – Ofcourse Yes. Can Traditional Media houses adjust to that? – Why not?
Somehow, we need to get the readers buying more and more copies of the paper and we shall not do that unless we appeal to them – be it with sensation.
This is not to mean that we abandon the journalistic values of telling the story, with facts and in proper grammar. We can continue to live up to all of those while working around our writing styles to fit our readers.