The digital revolution of media is a term that refers to the on-going change in the commercial logic of editorial offices caused by digitalisation, and perhaps especially social media.
Firstly, newspapers are increasingly being read online, which is why the circulation of the printed papers and thus the amount of money collected through print advertising has been decreasing rapidly since the first years of the new millennium. The web versions of news channels and magazines also need to compete with the wide variety of blogs and other free sources of information available to anyone equipped with internet access. Audiences of the television networks are splintering as streaming services take over.
Content produced by people other than professional journalists such as blogs etc. is challenging the role of media corporations.
In many media corporations, decreases in revenues have led into cutbacks in the work force. The remaining reporters are often forced to produce multichannel news coverage with smaller resources. At the same time, content produced by people other than professional journalists such as blogs etc. is challenging the role of media corporations as the channel for acquiring information and setting the agendas for public discussion.
The professional news media is increasingly picking news topics from trending social media discussions and not the other way around. This means that the role of citizen journalists, regular adults, teenagers, peace activists or, in extreme cases, terrorists as agenda-setters is growing.
The professional news media is increasingly picking news topics from trending social media discussions and not the other way around.
Also, especially in popular culture but also in politics, the starting point for a news piece is often an Instagram, Facebook or blog post created by the sources and objects of the news themselves.
In addition, professional reporters who control the production of messages are being partly replaced as the gatekeepers of information by the digital media corporations, such as Google and Facebook. Instead of controlling the message production, these online gatekeepers are controlling what the audience are exposed to by manipulating the order of the search results and algorithmic picking of content to feed.
There are two types of visions for the future of journalism.
The positive vision of these two involves an idea of developing the already diverse media publicity into something that is more strongly based on dialogue and interaction. Rather than having a passive group of recipients, media will be greeted by an active audience. In this way, the digital era is changing the traditional concept of the professional identity of reporters. Discussions taking place on social media can at their best promote democracy, enhance the supervision of journalistic work, support multivocality and offer access to information and arenas of discussion, even to those living on the periphery.
According to the negative vision, in the future traditional media will not be democratised, its news production will not spread out, and citizens will not be better informed. The ownership of the media, by contrast, will become concentrated, resources decreased, products standardised and made more entertainment-focused and their quality impaired. Hoping to gain the most clicks, populists and shocking news will replace in-depth and slow analyses. News, and in particular news headlines, will become more sensational. Under commercial pressure and the concentration of ownership, the autonomy of journalists will decrease.
This is not the first time, however, that the media will have undergone a change. Every time a new form of media becomes popular, it challenges the way the existing media corporations work and earn their revenues.