In the broadcast era, audiences receive and access information from traditional news media such as newspaper and television. Because of the technological limitations, there was limited interaction between journalism and audiences. Traditional audiences were merely passive receptors of content while journalists can decide and control the media coverage.
Digital media, however, has changed such kind of relationship and encourage “participatory culture”. With various news and media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, WeChat and WeiBo, audiences are able to discuss and comment on particular news or content post by news media. Additionally, audiences can now share their experiences and ideas and generate content. Some even become famous critics and bloggers. Audiences can also affect politics and policy establish. One famous example is the new United States President Donald Trump, who broke the conventional rule and won the election with the power of digital media.
The relationship between audiences and journalists has completely shifted from “we write and you read” to “journalism democracy and reconnection” (Deuze 2003, p.203). The change of audiences’ needs come along with the change of their abilities. Audiences are not satisfied with the traditional information distribution such as daily newspaper. Instead, they now expect faster news delivery and richer content. Besides, with various information sources to choose from, audiences have great power to choose and consume their preferred content.
This situation brings great challenges to news media as they now need to listen to their audiences and analyse their preferences to decide what to delivery to the public. And as the traditional news delivery is shrinking, funding from the traditional advertisement is shrinking as well. To compete with the peer for audiences’ attention and advertisement opportunities, news media is now undergoing unprecedented pressure. News media and digital journalists are trying hard to bring interesting and timely news to audiences and ready to respond or reply to unpredictable comments or emergency event.
Overall, in the age of digital media, audiences have much more power and ability than before, reshaping the relationship between them and news media. However, this new form of relationship and situation brings great challenges to news media.
Deuze, M 2003, ‘‘The Web and Its Journalisms: considering the consequences of different types of news media online’’, New Media & Society, vol. 5, no. 2, pp.203-30.