Times are changing. With a growing number of consumers turning to the web to get their news, the journalistic realm is forced to change with the times. Media outlets and journalists alike are charting new territories. One trend online journalism has seen is judging journalists based on their popularity. Many sites get paid “per click” on a website by advertisers. In other words, the more page views a site recieves, the more money the writer or news source gets.
This idea makes sense— however, it can lead down a dangerous road. In an article published in Big Lead Sports outlining USA Today’s plan for page view pay, a flaw to this model is stated. If a journalist is judged, and therefore paid, based on their popularity, journalists are more likely to focus on what is most attractive, popular and interesting to the majority of the population. The article goes on to state:
The goal, obviously, is to get writers thinking digital. But once writers start scrutinizing their page view tallies, and realize slide shows, rumors, and celebrities drive traffic, what will be the impact?
Sure, prominence is a factor in determining what makes news, but the majority of the popular and appealing gossip and celebrity rumors are not always newsworthy. The lives of reality TV stars and athletes may be attractive, but does that mirror what is going on in the rest of the world? Not really. News should help society stay current and informed so they can be aware of the world around them and make informed decisions. If journalism becomes a field where a journalist’s salary depends on popularity, reporting and news coverage may become selective or even biased. Journalists should not be paid for their popularity, but by their ability to thoroughly and accurately report on issues and events to the masses.