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Guest Post: The Future of Journalism by Rick Pullen

Today I’m pleased to bring you author/editor Rick Pullen’s take on the future of journalism. His latest book – Naked Truth – is the second in a new thriller series about newspaper reporter Beck Rikki. I thought it a timely offering for today, given that (U.S.) election day is tomorrow… Enjoy – and don’t forget to vote!

The Future of Journalism
by Rick Pullen
Do readers discern between real journalism and fake news? Thanks to the Internet, anybody can say anything and it’s surprising how many people will believe it. But should we be surprised? After all, long before the Internet, people would listen to rumors and repeat them over and over. That’s how malicious rumors spread so quickly. The very definition of a false rumor is fake news. Thanks to the Internet, what we are witnessing today is a rumor with a megaphone.

We are in a state of transition from old journalism to new. Yet there’s really nothing new with today’s journalism. The stories are still solid and, unfortunately, often sordid. It’s the story platform that is transitioning. Fewer newsprint newspapers are being printed today in large part because of Craig’s List and other Internet advertising alternatives.

Newspapers were the source of choice for news during the 20th Century. Today, things are different. If you are under 40, no doubt you get most of your news online while your Baby Boomer parents are still watching what I term “old people’s news” on the three broadcast networks each night. (How can you tell? Check the advertising. The nightly news is filled with pharmaceutical ads for old folks.)

The problem during this transition has been confusion. And there’s been plenty of it. People were reading The New York Timesand The Washington Post—America’s last remaining great newspapers—and doing it online FOR FREE! What kind of business model is that? Certainly not one that could survive, and they learned that the hard way—along with hundreds of other American newspapers. They played a major role in their own financial woes.

But then The Times got smart and The Post got a new owner in Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. Both began turning the ship around.

But what jumpstarted the process was Donald Trump. That’s right. The man who hates the news media, calling it the “Enemy of the People,” has helped in its resurrection.

As soon as Trump took office, The Post was adding 10,000 new subscribers a week. The Times was adding even more. Apparently thousands of people who failed to vote in the last presidential election woke up and began to pay attention.

Today, after bleeding money for years, both newspapers are making money again. Good money.

Why? Readers are starting to get smart. After the last presidential election, it began to dawn on them that they couldn’t believe everything they read on the Internet. They heard the Russia government was feeding them fake news. Younger ones realized they needed a filter to tell assure they got the truth and that comes in the form of newspapers.

Yes, newspapers have changed and The Post and The Times are exceptions to many of the rules their smaller brethren still struggle with. But what they have proven is that if you distinguish yourself with solid reporting and readers believe you, readers will chose news organization-provided news over the free stuff available over the Internet.

Journalism hasn’t changed. Its delivery method has. Newspapers aren’t dead. They are different. Television is now niched with MSNBC on the left and Fox on the right and everything else somewhere in between. Newspapers looked like that back in the 19th Century before the idea of objective journalism took over in the 20th.

In the 20th Century business model, most income for newspapers came from advertising. They were fat and happy, making extraordinary profits. Today, they have woken up to subscription income. As long as readers believe they are getting the truth in their news consumption, those who want to be informed will spend the money to find it.

About the Author
Rick Pullen is a magazine editor and former newspaper reporter. Today he writes political thrillers. His latest, Naked Truth, was published in September 2018. Naked Truth is a sequel to his first thriller, Naked Ambition. He has also published The Apprentice.

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