Journalism: a business?

It is well know that journalism is a hugely costly yet lucrative business that is strongly influenced by those who fund it.

The user pays for newspapers in shops or through monthly and annual subscriptions. An increase in content price will increase profit, however, this is only true to an extent. Consumers will cease to purchase a product if they feel the content is no longer worth the price.

Many newspapers now have their content available on paywall tablet apps. This restricts content to the app until the user has a paid subscription. Many people also contribute through the BBC licence fee if they choose to own a TV or view live content on other media devices.

The second funding input that corporations receive is from various types of advertising. Because of the huge cost of journalism, companies concentrate their resources to areas where major news is likely to happen. By doing this they can also release content quicker than their rivals and investigate more costly journalism which makes their advertising space more valuable. Advertisers will pay large sums to be available to wider audiences. The wealthier the target audience, the more a company can charge for prime advertisement space.

Nevertheless, too many adverts detract away from the content of the publication and often deter consumers. Some may go as far to argue that high use of advertising corrupts journalistic values because it sees the consumer treated as a product.

“Media managers are doing deals with advertisers to carry paid-for material disguised as honest news; reporters and editors accept bribes and irregular payments; and a culture of dependence on political and corporate friends makes it increasingly difficult to separate journalism from propaganda and impartial reporting from public relations.” (Ethical Journalism Network, 2015)

In can be seen that advertising is a huge part of media financing. However, it must be taken into account that advertisers aren’t the only influencers of media content in circulation. With many corporations being run by media giants, there is a continuing rivalry and commercial pressure between companies to make more money and increase their profit margin. Others are strongly influenced by governments that can manipulate media through pressure and censorship.
With the increase in technology, newspapers are losing money. High quality free news is available online with unlimited spaces for advertising. Companies are having to consider other ways of funding good journalism. I hope that in the future we will see alternatives in funding and a shift in journalism towards a more free market.