Some would say that there have always been opinions laced throughout the media. Even when simply reporting the news, a nuance or a tone in one’s voice could plug the reporter’s perception into the “unbiased” relaying of information to the public. It has been and always will be an unavoidable part of being a professional journalist.
Today, those nuances have been replaced by clear and polarized opinions and the professional journalists are sharing the stage with people who do nothing other than react to what’s happening in the news. Some are bloggers. Some make videos. Some do both. It’s a big business and there are plenty of people making a living out of voicing their opinions on topics without having to leave the comfort of their desks.
Reactive journalism is on the rise and those who are good enough to do it and lucky enough to build a following are letting everyone else do the work for them. They don’t have to travel to Washington DC and wait outside of the Capitol Building in order to possibly get a quote from an official. They wait for the old-school journalists to get the quote or shoot the video and then they react to it. This sort of journalism can generate a wide audience as well as a nice revenue stream.
This isn’t to call those people lazy or cheating the system in any way. The whole purpose of the internet in general and social media in particular was to give people the access to the information they want and the voice and venue through which to make it known to the world. Is it wrong that they make a living off the sweat of beat reporters or news teams? Not at all. In fact, when done right, it’s a symbiotic relationship that can make both sides more money and keep the general public as informed as possible.
Both sides play an important role. One side gets the news. The other side discerns it and crafts the opinions that others might form. Look at a site like Techdirt. The vast majority of their stories are loaded with blockquotes of content from other websites. It’s not in reporting the news that they found their niche. It’s in the forming of opinions that others can adopt or deny. It’s sites like Techdirt that can take the information, dig deeper across multiple sources, and come up stories that make their opinions become part of the news itself.
Another example is the YouTube channel FullSpectrumSurvival. Their daily News in Two Minutes has a modest but growing 10K-20K views per video. It’s not a bad way to go considering that all of their videos are compilations of headlines that match their world survival niche. Here’s an example:
It isn’t just on blogs or YouTube channels, either. News aggregation sites are growing and starting to bring in good revenue. They scan the feeds, select the appropriate stories in their niche, and serve as a way to discern what’s important for those who do not want to scan through hundreds of stories per day themselves. While it’s technically not reactive journalism, it’s still taking the work of others and expressing an opinion about their importance by including or excluding their links.
The world of long-form journalism isn’t dying. Reporters will always be needed. The enhancements to their reports and guidance of opinions make reactive journalists an important part of the information flow. Could the opinions eventually supersede the reporting itself?
“Journalist” image courtesy of Shutterstock.