Are the days of journalism being a viable paying career, coming to an end?
I would think so, as Timothy Alexander Guzman said in a recent article that says that journalism is becoming a more highly skilled job and that a hybrid effort – robots organising data-dense paragraphs that are supplemented with a journalist’s analysis, interpretation and experience, produces a story that’s better than our human efforts alone.
Guzman also detailed how robots are making some inroads already: Bloomberg’s Editor-in-chief recent sent out an internal memo to its 2400 journalists that he wanted to use more automation in writing and reporting.
Today, media publishers are forced to shift from print media where they have enjoyed ample circulation and advertising revenue which has enabled media companies to pay large armies of writers, photographers, support and production staff well with generous bonuses and ex-gratias; to online media where advertising revenue is about one tenth or less that of print advertising revenue and growing too slowly to make up for the decline in print advertising revenue.
Barriers to entry for online and digital media publishing has become relatively low, resulting in more intense competition for online advertising revenue, coupled with global reach of huge non-media sites like Google and Facebook. Ie. Google’s worldwide advertising revenue surpassed total US newspaper ad revenue in 2012. Growth in newspaper online ad revenue was anaemic.
Perhaps this is exactly what’s prompting corporate media conglomerates to slowly replace traditional journalists with robots that can produce twice the amount of stories at a faster rate to beat out their competition.
Especially during this troubled economic times, it’s hard not to view robots as the competition. Not too long ago, in the F&B sector – McDonalds began eliminating their workforce and replacing them with robots to serve customers due to the USD15 an hour increase in the minimum wage across the U.S. Quite simply, robots do not require a salary, a retirement plan or healthcare benefits – it is not a hard choice for publishers to make between journalists and robots, especially when there are profits involved.
Welcome to that information and services economy, information technology journalists so often wrote about and lauded to the skies, thinking that as information workers, they were safe, unlike manual workers in automotive assembly plants.
IT BYTES BACK! says: Thank you dear contributing reader for your piece! At the local front, we have already recently seen the demise of The Malaysian Insider and The Rakyat Post. Indeed, there are fewer commercial news organisations that support investigative journalism now than at any time in recent history; which makes us worry if even commonplace journalism risk being the next to be axed?