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Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Point-Counterpoint: News414, the future of journalism

New media platform transforms world of news distribution
Flickr user Daniel Go

News414 is a new journalism initiative launched through the collaboration of three Wisconsin newsrooms — Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service, Wisconsin Watch and Outlier Media. One of the first of its kind, News414 delivers news to Wisconsin residents faster and more directly than ever before through text messages and social media posts.

This initiative could be the start of an entirely new age of journalism. Is this new era a welcome one, or are there hidden disadvantages?

Point: News414 makes news more accessible


With its individualized text messaging system and ability to connect directly with journalists, News414 represents an innovative and accessible method of distributing relevant news information for evolving audiences.

News414 provides a news delivery platform that connects consumers to their selection of news topics directly to their phones. Instead of requiring consumers to seek out news on their own — which can be time-consuming and exhausting — the information they need is readily available.

As technology advances, a new generation of news consumers is being raised. If we are to maintain an informed society, the news media must become responsive to the habits of young media consumers. In this period of change, studies are beginning to show that accessibility and relevance are critically important for reaching young consumers of media. 

According to the Reuters Institute, young people tend to perceive traditional news media as negative. This demographic also tends to find consuming news to be a burdensome task. But it should be noted that young people are still consuming news at high rates. According to a survey conducted by the American Press Institute, young people are interested in consuming news, but are dissatisfied with much of what they are reading from traditional media. News on social media is more popular among Gen Z and Millenials.

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Part of the reason for these habits is the quality of digital news sources to be more engaging, immediate and well-tailored to the interests of young consumers. According to Deloitte’s 2022 digital media trends survey, interactive media experiences appeal to younger audiences — which may be a critical finding for the future of designing news media.

According to a study from the International Journal of Press/Politics, social media news can help equalize media consumption for those who are less likely to access traditional media sources. This is important for building an informed society and electorate, and with News414’s engaging delivery style, it may produce similar results.

News414 allows its users to choose topics that matter to them, learn about the important pieces of information, then speak to journalists directly if they have more questions. This accessibility and interactivity is beneficial for creating healthy civic habits and preparing news consumers to participate in democratic processes. According to a study from the Knight Foundation, people who consume news — especially local news — are more likely to be civically engaged. 

By establishing tangible connections between citizens and the events happening around them, services like News414 can help people situate themselves within the context of relevant social issues and feel more grounded in their communities

Overall, News414 represents a necessary adaptation to the news cycle by accommodating the needs of today’s consumers. By being in touch with younger generations, News414 can help prepare them to become civically engaged citizens and extend the benefits of news consumption to a broader audience.

Celia Hiorns ([email protected]) is a sophomore studying journalism and political science. 

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Counterpoint: News414’s disadvantages outweigh its benefits

News414 has multiple hidden disadvantages that are important for the project to address and must be considered before expanding the program further. 

First, a major goal of News414 is to build connections between the community and journalists, building trust on personal levels. However, the virtual conversations between journalists and residents like with News414 are anything but direct and personal and could prevent this relationship-building goal.

Most journalists are encouraged to join community events and participate in the community that they actually seek to represent. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many people learned how difficult it is to maintain or create relationships through a screen, so for News414 to truly accomplish their connection-building desire they should attempt to make more direct connections between residents and journalists, potentially through a phone call or in-person meeting.

Though it is easy to schedule phone calls versus in-person meetings, face-to-face communication is more important to actually building relationships and addressing community needs. 

Second, though News414 would certainly make news more accessible by allowing citizens to stay up to date on current events, this accessibility could potentially be damaging to the mental health of subscribers. It is helpful that subscribers are able to control how many texts they are able to receive, but receiving up to four texts a month could still be overwhelming especially when the news people are receiving is happening all around them.

The accessibility to information comes with a cost, and oftentimes that cost is lower mental health. By overconsuming media, especially news media which tends to be more negative, people hold on to that negative information and can put a lot of stress on individuals. 

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Another important disadvantage of News414 to consider is the harm to traditional newsrooms. Traditional newspapers are already struggling, and though this might be an indication that the traditional formats of newsrooms aren’t as effective, it would still be harmful to the industry.

By connecting to sources with a chatbot and over text there would likely be less journalists needed to help operate News414. If a system like this were to spread, newsrooms would be in significant trouble and many reporters could lose their jobs. 

Finally, News414 is able to connect journalists with citizens to submit tips or learn more information about a situation, but again — these conversations are anything but direct.

By submitting tips through text messaging, there is a higher chance that those tips could be inaccurate, or that people could lie. It could potentially take more time for journalists to dig through the responses on News414 and sort out the truthful responses from lies than it would to just find someone on the street to interview. 

Though News414 definitely has the potential to be a useful tool in newsgathering and connecting communities, there are multiple hidden advantages that must be addressed before the program is further expanded to other cities across the United States.

Emily Otten ([email protected]) is a junior studying journalism. 

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