The Internet Ate My Newspaper

A couple of weeks ago, I went to Newton South High School to see Herbie Ziskend give a speech to a group of 50+ year olds about the current state of news. His compelling speech broke the fact to the group that physical newspapers as they have existed for hundreds of years, are now almost entirely migrated to digital. He cited websites like HuffPost and Vice as important sources of news for younger generations - with Facebook and Twitter as primary distribution platforms for this news. In other words, he said that the Huffington Post and Twitter were part of establishment media.

After seeing his intriguing talk, I concluded that in fact, there is a group of websites that my generation would actually call our establishment media over websites such as The Huffington Post and Facebook/Twitter. One of the main sites that came to my mind was BuzzFeed, a site that aims to create and share viral content on the internet. BuzzFeed appeals to my generation as a source of both entertainment and news. As I'm writing this blog post, the front page depicts an article on the Ukraine conflict side-by-side with a post about 12 Valentine's Day cards for people you hate. Countless people in my class use BuzzFeed as a way to pass some time and even read some well-crafted news pieces at the same time. A classmate of mine uses BuzzFeed as her daily source of media: "[BuzzFeed] rivals coffee in importance to me." She believes that the articles have more personality behind their writing than an article from a more formal source. It's inconvenient for her to go check Facebook or Twitter for the small tidbits of information that she needs to keep in touch with the world when BuzzFeed contains all of her entertainment and news in one app or website.

YouTube is another example of what I would consider my generation's new establishment media. While YouTube actually started in the same year as The Huffington Post, in the past 3 or so years, it has evolved considerably. YouTube no longer solely harbors cat videos, but instead has transformed into a very respectable way for one to make a living by producing legitimate content. The Phillip DeFranco Show is a great example of a media company to sprout out of YouTube. Phillip DeFranco's channel currently has about 3.5 million subscribers on the website and creates around 1 news video a day. The host, DeFranco, reports on the day's stories with an energetic yet informative style. His channel acts as the main source of news for your's truly and functions as the pause in my watching of gaming videos to transition to something somewhat intellectual. All in all, YouTube appeals to my generation in the same way as BuzzFeed, it is a place to get a quick and entertaining look at the news before moving on to the rest of the content on the website.

Reddit, though, is a different machine entirely. Reddit functions as a close-to-ad-free website that simply facilitates a huge, loyal community. The community creates "sub-reddits," which function as categories for different types of media. Sub-reddits are as general as "News" and "Tech" and can be as obscure as "Shower Thoughts" and "Animals Being Bros". A sub-reddit's community will up-vote good content to the top of the page and will filter out bad content with down-votes. This model works incredibly well considering how anyone can post to a sub-reddit. After using it for about a week, the "news" sub-reddit does a great job of giving me the daily headlines and links to credible sources on the topic. Reddit constantly creates high quality media from a website with minimal ads and no hired content creators.

Overall, there is still a requirement for traditional journalism and original reporting because all three of these websites report the news but don't do a lot of the original fact finding and investigation like traditional media sources do. Nevertheless, the variety and personality driving new media sources have pulled my generation away from the traditional article format. "For the loser now/ Will be later to win / For the times they, they are a-changin'" (Bob Dylan).