Shaping Tomorrow’s News?


It’s no secret that the “traditional” media landscape has been upended by numerous factors. First came the 24 hour news cycle, then the internet provided a place where any John or Jane Doe can create their own digital outlet for disseminating news directly to target audiences, taking media organizations out of the process entirely. Finally, the proliferation of and trust in social media channels has empowered our friends and even strangers to become our go-to news sources. But even as online, print and broadcasting media giants continue to adapt to these new realities, where we get our news is ever-changing.

Two notable developments are captured in a recent POLITICO Playbook: John Oliver has “hiredthree new researchers” for his show “Last Week Tonight”, as reported by AP’s David Bauder; and Instagram is expanding its “editorial” team, as reported by Digiday’s John McDermott.

Bucking conventional wisdom that news must now be disseminated in bite-size pieces to appeal to audiences with diminishing attention spans, Oliver found success in his inaugural season with in-depth looks at issues including civil forfeiture, net neutrality and the Miss America Pageant’s status as “one of the world’s largest providers of scholarships” to women. Oliver is now banking on his audience’s willingness to invest 10-12 minutes into substantive coverage of news of the day – provided it’s served with a side of comedy – and is growing his staff’s capacity for investigative journalism, marking an important shift in late-night talk towards potential “news magazine” status.

On the flipside of that coin, the go-to platform for sharing selfies, sunsets and pictures of last night’s artisanal organic heirloom beet salad is also ‘going editorial’: “Instagram is currently looking to hire at least five more people to help with ‘daily editorial’ production.” They say editorial experience is a must for applicants. Instagram is looking to harness the power of Instagrammers who seem to have identified the special sauce behind viral content. While it’s unclear whether these new editorial employees will be offering Instagram users anything newsworthy or simply serving as an extended arm of Instagram’s marketing department, the social media vehicle seems to believe its users will see value in additional original content.

One lesson is clear from these developing efforts and others like them: not only are the numbers of media outlets consistently growing, but any attempt to define what constitutes news or media must remain malleable for the foreseeable future.