There was a recent piece on the BBC written by Amol Rajan, outlining the effect coronavirus is having on the newspaper industry. It was a pretty harrowing read and didn’t fill me, as a prospective journalist, with much confidence in the future of a medium I still believe to be important. Whilst the world is moving into an age of online news and social media, it’s essential we don’t lose sight of the long-form journalism outputs which make up the structure of this industry.
It’s interesting to look at public opinion when it comes to news consumption. Trust in news found on social media is extremely low (only 23%) and yet two thirds of us access it on our smartphones. While we have a greater trust in more reputable sources, we are reluctant to actually pay for this privilege and would rather access it through apps and search engines. The dot we don’t seem to be connecting is the one between this lack of funding and the disintegration of the news sources we value the most.
And this is where COVID-19 has turned up the heat. With physical shops closed and production lines broken, those of us left picking up a newspaper on our way to work are severely depleted as we trade a commute and office desk for an extra 20 minutes in bed and the kitchen table. Unfortunately, it looks as if this is going to have a devastating effect on the world of news. The funding so desperately needed by news brands to maintain their high-quality content is going to be cut. This does not mean, as some think, simply the end of newspapers. This could threaten the brands altogether, causing our reputable news sources to start dropping off one by one and potentially leaving readers gathering news from sources only trusted by 23% of us.
How we can help
This is why the importance of subscriptions and supporting your local paper in any way you can is so incredibly important. It doesn’t just affect the news brand itself, but the entire structure of an industry we’d be lost without.