How Can Television News Stay A National Unifying Center

Television news has been considered to be a ‘national unifying center’ since it had the ability to connect people across the nation, and even globally, because the audiences were able to retrieve knowledge about events that occurred either on a national or global scale. According to the Media & Culture: An Introduction to Mass Communication textbook, their statistics showed that ninety percent of American households owned a traditional television set in the early 1960s. However, the US Energy Information Administration (US EIA) conducted an analysis that displayed that only fifty-eight percent of households in America had at least one or even two traditional television sets in 2015. A quick comparison unmistakably shows that the amount of traditional television sets in American households have gradually declined-- specifically three to four percent decrease since 2012 (2017).

Many sources believe the reason for this is because social media sites, and how many of the younger audiences are now getting news from these sources. To stay afloat and make an attempt to not only regain the title of being a ‘national unifying center’, television news would not only have to revise their analysis on their target audience, but more importantly, lean how to integrate itself more into the platform of social media. The younger audiences make up a reasonable amount of the decrease of viewers for television news, and this is primarily because of social media and the convenience it gives their audiences. In May of last year, there had been a research done that showed that two-thirds (sixty-seven percent) of US adults are currently receiving some of their news through social media.

Since technology allows all of society to be able to complete most tasks now just through our portable cell phones, having social media permits their users to be able to stay updated no matter where they might be. Around seventy-four percent (three quarters) of Twitter users admit they receive their news from the site itself, which showed a fifteen percent increase since early 2016. Even thirty-two percent of YouTube users do the same, which had a rise of eleven percentage points since early 2016. Snapchat, Tumblr, and Facebook have all experience the same rise in users obtaining their news from their sites – Facebook crowned the social media site where audiences’ stay updated with the news from the most.

Not only can social media follow its users no matter where they are through their handphones, but they make it easier and free of cost for their audience (2017). Television news apps, such as CNN, requires for people to sign into their TV service provider that they need to pay for-- which many might not have anymore due to the decline in traditional television sets in American households. If they are unable to sign-in, it is likely that they would be unable to access things such as live streams or past videos. With social media, besides Twitter, their audience just needs to have an account which is free of charge. Television news should follow in suit of social media in terms of making it simpler and costless for their audience to access the news anywhere as nowadays the cost for television sets are costly as well as having a television service provider. Traditional television news broadcasts are unable to match the speed that social media has. They were able to compete with newspapers since “if a person wanted to rely on a newspaper, they would have to wait until the next day”. With traditional television news competing with social media sites, one has to not only wait for the news to reach them, but also for them to get there live or write an article. Even if social media might be unable to accurately give in-depth insight such as a television report or newspaper article, it is conveniently presented faster than even a twenty-four hour news broadcast. This works well and captures the attention of their audience since those who are younger do not have the ability to sit through frequent commercial breaks and still absorb important information. Small videos on Facebook and the one hundred and forty character tweets on Twitter get the news out quicker for the younger audience.

This way it is able to get the news to them before they lose attention. Although television news has accounts on social media where they post links to their articles on their website along with headlines, they should use it to also interact and gather information about their audience so they could possibly win back those they lost. The younger audience possesses different interests than generations before them due to the society they grew up and live in. Daily life is distinctly different and so is the way people get their news. They could take into account how many people interact with their posts and learn what exactly it is that their audience likes and would prefer to hear about. Abrahamson believes that “brands need to learn from these recent TV event ratings and create a strong, relevant social media strategy using real-time insights in order to succeed”.

Many television shows are created based on what has become popular within modern society, and television news stations should do the same instead of continuing to do the same thing and expecting people to like it. With society and technology continuously advancing, it is necessary for television news to advance with them in order to prevent their extinction and keep their title of being a ‘national unifying center’. Instead of attempting to beat social media in the battle of being the primary source where people get their news from, television should either implement characteristics of social media that people enjoy or use the platform of social media to further advance themselves and gain more of an audience. If they are unable to change along with society, they will experience their extinction sooner than later.

18 May 2020
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