WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Is Digital Fatigue Setting In?

May 31, 2016

Editor & Publisher recently ran an article suggesting audiences might be feeling digital fatigue because of the vast number of on-line news sites.  The magazine said this might be an opportunity for print publications to re-establish themselves.

Shop Talk panelist Will Buss, who is Director of Student Publications at Western Illinois University, said the article reported 85 new web pages are uploaded every five seconds.  Buss wondered whether that much new information is needed, though he had his doubts about whether the overload of on-line content will create a paradigm shift back to print.  He believes in making numerous options available to audiences, including print and on-line.

Buss said he worked for the McClatchy news organization before coming to WIU. He said newspaper reporters were expected to produce videos to accompany their stories, though the videos often consisted of little more than a speech or a segment of an interview.

Panelist Rich Egger questioned the value of producing a video just for the sake of having video.  He thinks it should add something to the text and/or provide a separate narrative. Egger also said there are plenty of people in the U.S. and around the globe who don’t have internet access so print is still important to them.

Panelist Jonathan Ahl believes digital fatigue is real.  He said print newspapers culled information important to their communities and were trusted sources for many years. He said while on-line sites can offer a lot of bells and whistles, he thinks news reporting still comes down to solid journalism and good story telling.