Gasp! Can the news media really see the future?

By DAVID A. CHAUVIN //

Well, it’s official: the Giants are rebuilding.

Not too long ago, I was sipping a freshly brewed pre-season cup of false hope, as media after media predicted. a race for the 2021 playoffs. And even, here we go again.

Nothing and no one has beaten the New York Giants when it comes to proving the madness of predict the future. This is especially true at a time of pervasive media coverage. Some predictors are better than others, and studies have shown that accurate prediction is a skill that can be developed over time. But the vast majority of predictions are just hot plugs – especially when it comes to guesswork about the economy, politics, sports and, of course, the media.

Consider: Every year, experts predict that the next 12 months will bring an inevitable end to traditional journalism and the news media. They are always wrong. Journalism is not dying – but it is change dramatically.

There’s a morbid journalism meme I’ve seen circulating on Twitter: “Every time we print an obituary, we lose another follower.” It’s hilarious, but behind the scenes, the media pivots to meet readers where they are.

Take, for example, the New York Times recent purchase of The Athletic, the once-revolutionary sports digital outlet whose launch in 2016 was supposed to spell the end of traditional sports media.

David Chauvin: Media in motion.

Athletic’s plan was to recruit brand journalists established news outlets – those who had been laid off or worn out by the constant demands of churning out clickbait – and showcase their work on a sleek, modern, ad-free website. The catch, of course, was a subscription to access The Athletic’s terrific content.

Digital publishing valued depth over breadth, a return to grantland rice days. He became famous for publishing landmark sports stories, including the Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal. It was to be the medium of the digital age, uninhibited by the suffocation – or economic realities – of traditional media.

And now it’s been bought by the New York Times.

The irony of The Athletic being bought out by the epitome of what it intended to destroy is amusing, but from a journalistic perspective, it’s incredibly exciting. It shows how the media is embracing new ways of telling stories.

There is no doubt that the importance and popularity of digital news platforms have exponentially increased. People rely on mobile devices and social media more than ever, and many are exploring new avenues of storytelling.

Consider how Newsday augments its platform with the Newsday LIVE virtual roundtable series. News12 used Facebook and other social networks to expand coverage and engage directly with Long Islanders. Innovate Long Island has been leading the charge for seven years now, adding an incredibly engaging and inspiring podcast in 2021 (which I really hope to be a guest on one day).

Meanwhile, the mainstream impression – contrary to long-held opinions – isn’t exactly fading away. According to Pew Research Center, 2020 was the best year for American newspaper circulation at the age of a dog; even excluding major national publications such as the NYT, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post, Pew reports that newspapers have seen more broadcast revenue than advertising in 2020 for the first time in nearly seven decades.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. But as news media continue to evolve to meet the changing appetites of audiences, one thing will always remain constant: we are in the business of storytelling.

On a separate note, it was recently announced that four senior News 12 Long Island reporters – and dear friends – left the station last week: Shari Einhorn, Christine Insinga, Jackie Lukas and Jamie Stuart. We are eternally grateful for their advocacy, diligence and commitment to Long Island.

David A. Chauvin is Executive Vice President of ZE Creative Communications.