Open your phone. Which apps occupy the valuable real estate on your home screen? Facebook? Twitter? Snapchat? Which app would be the first you open to find breaking news? Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and other social media platforms may be the first place we look to for news, opinions, and cute puppy pictures, and so traditional media outlets must evolve to fit these changing habits. Social media has become the way we connect with our peers—it is easy to self-select content, and it is radically simple to create your own. In this current state of political polarization with “fake news” and “alternative facts” becoming catch phrases, and with the rise of technological dependence, how do traditional media outlets adapt? Truth-or-Consequences--Why-the-Media-Still-Matter-02
On Wednesday, May 24, 2017, TEDxJacksonville hosted a salon, “Truth or Consequences: Why the Media Still Matter,” exploring the way traditional media outlets are forced to navigate this changing environment.
Moderated by Ryan Benk, a reporter for WJCT, the event featured a panel of prominent voices in Northeast Florida media:
  • Ennis Davis, cofounder and blogger for Modern Cities and Metro Jacksonville
  • Kent Justice, anchor for WJXT TV-4/News4Jax
  • Tia Mitchell, statehouse bureau chief for The Florida Times-Union
  • Mary Kelli Palka, editor of The Florida Times-Union
  • Melissa Ross, host of “First Coast Connect” on WJCT 89.9 FM
The panelists offered their thoughts on questions including the partisan divide in politics, media literacy, citizen journalism, and the 24-hour news cycle. Audience member questions showed a strong desire to further understand the newsgathering process and how journalists go from story idea to finished product. Traditional media outlets, more so than many other companies, have had to react quickly to our society’s dependence on digital and mobile platforms. The rise of digital media poses a multi-million dollar question: Does everyone want clickbait? Media outlets are finding that there is a balance between content that maximizes clicks and thus revenue, and the substantial investigative and watchdog reporting that questions conventional wisdom and increases readership. The panelists stressed the importance of media literacy and supporting media outlets that we value and depend on. As citizens, one of our most important tasks is to stay engaged and informed about our local communities, our nation, and our world. The media’s job is to question authority—to hold our government and public officials accountable for their actions. By monetarily supporting local and national media outlets, Americans are holding their public officials accountable and maintaining transparency. The current state of political polarization and the changing technological landscape tend to vilify and undermine the traditional media. If the press meets these challenges by continuing to objectively report the truth, one could argue that we are entering a new golden age of American journalism. Our panelists encouraged the audience to support your favorite news outlets; educate yourself through a variety of different sources; and be able to spot the partisan blogs, websites, and articles motivated by a political agenda. Traditional media outlets are not fighting for space on your home screen—they are fighting for space on your news feed and for your support. The media landscape is changing and will continue to do so as technology advances and demographics shift. It is now possible to watch that breaking news live from anywhere in the world, but without journalists asking tough questions and pushing for the truth, does that even matter? Now, more than ever, it is evident that media does, in fact, matter.