The media landscape is currently experiencing a paradigm shift of accelerated proportions due to evolving social media technology. The future of the 6 O’Clock News, many would agree, is on the brink of extinction with YouTube, Facebook, Instagram TV, On Demand, HD internet video, and so forth progressing as the dominant forms of news consumption; a concept that would have Walter Cronkite turning in his grave.
In addressing this topic, on Saturday, August 25, The Spur in Southampton hosted a panel discussion, followed by a Q&A, on “The Changing Television Business: Evolution or Revolution?” headlined by WNBC’s Chuck Scarborough alongside media guests Rossana Scotto, Neil Rosen, Bill McCuddy, and myself. A crowd of more than 70 gathered for a nearly two-hour conversation about the fate of news stations. I sat alongside anchors and personalities I had watched for years. They represented the past and present while I was seen as the future, a stark reality of the changing times.
Growing up, I always knew I wanted to be a journalist and by high school, my dreams wavered from print to broadcast. In my mind, there was nothing more honest, or powerful, than sitting at an anchor desk, informing the public about the news and telling real life stories. When I arrived as a freshman student at Hofstra University in 2007, I immediately declared my major of Broadcast Journalism. I was so eager to learn I oftentimes read ahead of curriculum. This was two years after YouTube hit the web and three A.F. (after Facebook), an evolving time for young communications students.
By my junior year, the media landscape began to erupt and I felt the tremors. Foreshadowing the bleak outlook of an already competitive market, I switched my major to Media Studies, allowing a broader scope of the journalistic and media field. The year I graduated, in 2011, several internships and government debates later, I created my byline Nikki On The Daily in hopes that by branding myself, and in essence my work, I would have a leg up on the competition. In a time where traditional media essentially plateaued, I wanted to be ahead of the curve, wherever it was going.
Sadly, as The Spur’s panel confirmed, I was right. Scarborough discussed the history of television news and how the future of the new 5G could potentially wipe out what we know of our broadcast news of today. Scotto noted that the industry has changed so drastically since she started that young, aspiring broadcast journalists might not have that career as an option soon. In short, the millennial generation, my generation, could be the last great TV broadcasters of the classic news we have come to know and love/hate.
As a young professional journalist of today, the discussion was informative but it also opened up the conversation to what’s ahead in an industry that affects us all. In a world of #FakeNews and the rapid information highway of social media, it’s crucial society takes a look at where their facts are coming from. Is it a credible source? Have we heard multiple angles of the same story? The way we consume news will change, that’s inevitable, but it’s up to us to seek the truth.