News papers

Does the news need sugarcoating?

In recent days GB News has become the latest company to announce redundancies as the quest for a sustainable and profitable business model for the media continues. The channel has its critics but I think the loss of any jobs in journalism is a negative. Channel 4 and Business Insider have already made cuts this year, and some outlets like BuzzFeed News, The Messenger, and Vice’s website just didn’t make it.

All roads lead back to the same question: is free, ad-funded news viable? The evidence suggests that increasingly state supported or publicly funded outlets will be the only survivors. If that sounds alarmist, take a look at New Zealand where the scything of news and current affairs programming in recent weeks has left only a much reduced service in English from state owned TVNZ.

Clearly there is no drop in advertising dollars available. Just look at the $237.86 billion Google raked in last year and $134 billion Facebook notched up in ad money in 2023. How do broadcasters, digital media and newspapers get some of that money back? Apparently by not doing what they’re currently doing. So does the storytelling need to change, or is the state owned model inevitable?

If the growing number of news-avoiders is to be believed stories are too negative, too biased, and too opinionated. So is there a way to sugarcoat the pill to make the taste less bitter? A new style of reporting that brings the eyeballs and the ad money back? I’m sceptical, but prepared to be convinced. Until then, we’ll all continue to be spectators to an industry in decline.