Log in

From the Publisher’s Desk


Dear Readers,

As we step into 2024, we're facing a mirage in the world of news. Picture this: Even the Washington Post, backed by Jeff Bezos, faced layoffs in 2023. Tough times, right? Now, the 2024 election's coming up, and it's like a Band-Aid for these struggling newsrooms. Ad revenues are gonna spike, consultants will be convincing politicians to splurge on media outlets, and we're likely to see a surge in readership and web traffic. Why? The potential drama of a Biden-Trump rematch is too juicy to ignore.

But let's not kid ourselves. This isn't a real fix. It's just a temporary lift. The temporary surge in media attention and revenue during the 2024 election cycle is a superficial solution to the deep-rooted problems facing newsrooms. This period of heightened interest and financial gain won't solve the underlying challenges that are set to resurface with greater intensity post-election. Newsrooms are grappling with a fundamental shift in how news is consumed and valued in the digital age. The decline in traditional readership, the competition from social media and alternative news sources, and the ongoing struggle to adapt to a rapidly evolving media landscape present complex challenges that require more than a temporary boost in revenue or traffic. These issues demand innovative strategies, a reimagining of journalistic practices, and a deeper engagement with audiences to ensure the long-term sustainability and relevance of news organizations. As the election buzz fades, the real work of transforming the media industry to meet these challenges head-on will become even more pressing.

We've seen a downturn in website traffic post-Trump and pandemic, and it's not just a blip. Social media's not playing nice with news outlets anymore, and Google? They're keeping users to themselves. Plus, there's a bigger issue: news avoidance. Many readers, especially the young ones, are turning to places like TikTok for their news.

News avoidance is a growing phenomenon that poses significant challenges for the media industry. It reflects a conscious decision by individuals to steer clear of news, either due to a sense of overwhelm by the negativity and sensationalism often prevalent in current reporting, or a mistrust in the media's ability to deliver unbiased, accurate information. This trend is particularly pronounced among younger audiences, who increasingly perceive news as either irrelevant to their lives or too disheartening to engage with regularly. The rise of infotainment and the blurring lines between factual reporting and opinion further exacerbate this issue. As a result, many people are turning to alternative sources of information, including social media and nontraditional news platforms, which often provide content that aligns with their viewpoints or interests, but may lack the depth and rigor of traditional journalism. This shift away from traditional news consumption highlights the need for newsrooms to rethink their content strategies, focusing on rebuilding trust, enhancing relevancy, and offering a more balanced and engaging news experience.

The real kicker? We're probably going to botch the election coverage again. Jay Rosen from NYU keeps saying we should focus on how policies impact lives, not just the horse race of politics. But, let's be real, the drama of polls and insider strategies is too tempting for most journalists.

The truth is, we need a serious shake-up in journalism. We need to make news relevant and engaging, not just during elections but all the time. And covering politics? It's time to focus on what really matters…the impact on people's lives, not just who's winning the race.

Warm Regards,
Chris Herbolsheimer
West Plains Daily Quill & West Plains Gazette