Dr. Mark Lashley of La Salle University knows a lot about movies. He watches them, he teaches about them, and he is a good person to find if you want to have a conversation about them. The same goes for news and journalism. He studied journalism and mass communication throughout his collegiate career, making him very well-informed on the state of the journalism industry. Dr. Lashley spends a lot of time thinking about these topics, and the topics of the journalism industry and the film industry collide more often than you think.
The journalism industry and the film industry are part of the same universe: communication. Communication is a broad topic that has many facets. The film industry represents the media side of the communication field; the journalism industry represents the news side. Both fields have undergone massive and dramatic changes recently.
The journalism industry has seemingly always been based on one thing: newspapers. Newspapers were the way news organizations spread the news and where news reporters would make their livelihoods. The dawn of the internet has upset this status quo.
The internet has become a ubiquitous part of the daily life of everyone. This change has meant that in the past couple years, once sturdy pillars of the industry are wavering. The different types of journalism are shifting in popularity. Print journalism, by all accounts, is not as popular as it once was. The New York Times, Washington Post, and many other staples of print journalism have seen their readership dwindle in recent years due to the simple fact that people are not reading newspapers anymore. This has hurt business, caused qualified people to lose jobs, and led to consolidation. This consolidation means less unique perspective, as independent news outlets are being bought up and combined under a company like Comcast.
Selena Bemak, a senior at La Salle University and soon-to-be editor-in-chief of La Salle’s newspaper The Collegian, is aware of this problem. To her, it is not a matter of if print journalism will die, but when.
Another possible problem facing the journalism industry is millennials. The stereotype that millennials do not read news is pervasive, but not necessarily accurate. According to Comscore’s June, 2016 U.S. Multi-Platform study, the top 10 places millennials are reading news is online. Also, according to the American Press Institute, millennials engage highly with news topics on platforms like Twitter. All of this shows that print journalism is not appealing to the generation of today, which is a problem for its future.
The film industry is also different than before. The easiest parallel to the journalism industry’s problem with the newspaper is the film industry’s problem with the movie theater. Movie theaters are no longer the only option to watch movies, the same way newspapers are no longer the only way to read the news. Streaming services, like Netflix, have become mainstays in many homes. This has led to a decrease in the necessity to go out and spend money on a movie ticket. Some find it inconvenient, unaffordable, or just plain not worth it to go out and see a new film when they can just wait a couple months and stream it.
One possible cause of the fatigue some moviegoers are experiencing, and another change in the film industry, is the reliance on existing properties for new films. Superheroes, reboots, sequels, and other high-budget movies seem to be the only offerings available anymore. One look at the list of the highest grossing movies of all-time will show just how successful these types of films are, but some long for original ideas. Independent cinema is important, but filmmakers and theaters that support low budget fare are finding it harder to keep the dream alive.
The changes that have been seen in both industries have shaped not only the field of each, but also each other. Sometimes unnoticed, but the journalism industry and the film industry interact and inform each other. This is a symptom of being apart of communication and the convergence that comes with that.
Movie reviews are a simple example. Journalists review movies and say what they think about them. A good review could be the difference between a successful box office run and a flop, especially as word of mouth has become so powerful due to social media.
There are also other ways the two industries communicate. More times than not, major film studios and major news organizations are owned by the same corporation. Consolidation affects everyone. The industries are also facing a growing problem: frustration and distrust. People are more wary than ever of what they are reading and what they are watching. This lack of trust means that the industries are both at a crossroads: change with the times and figure out what people want, or continue to struggle. The journalism industry and the film industry are in similar boats, and it is interesting to see the parallels.