By Krista Myers
You don’t need to be a journalist to see how digital has changed the industry.
Here at Inovāt we don't believe that print is “dead”, but there has definitely been a shift in how we consume, process, and regurgitate news. With the ever-changing landscape of the digital medium journalism must adapt or be swallowed up and forgotten.
Journalism began as a form of communication meant to inform the public about current events. While its primary purpose remains, today’s journalists engage with their audience through digital in addition to producing stories. What was once a lecture has shifted into a conversation where people voice their opinions in an open forum discussion for all the world to view and get involved with. What’s more, journalists can self-promote their stories and brand via personal social media accounts. You barely need to visit the news source’s site to preview a story. Just check out the hodgepodge of reproduced ledes on your Facebook news feed.
I had an iPad my senior year of college which I mostly used for note taking, playing Mahjong, and reading the only textbook on my list available as an ebook. Most news sources hadn’t yet optimized their sites, so unless I wanted to sift through a frustrating, pre-mobile design, I wasn’t reading any news on my tablet.
Thanks to the Internet and constant advancements in design and technology we are now able to access news easily and instantly without a subscription. We no longer have to wait for papers or magazines to arrive in the mail. Now we can unlock our screens to easily sift through stories whenever we feel the need to be informed.
Since its inception, journalism has been dominated by print media, then followed by radio, and eventually TV broadcast news. Various forms of multimedia have emerged to either enhance written stories or stand alone. As our media has shifted into a more visual design, videos and photos are being absorbed not only in the social media scene but also in the journalism field. Photos or videos typically accompany text stories and are often the first story indication we see along with the headline.
With the world's news literally at our fingertips through a touchscreen or a few clicks of a keyboard, we can now absorb more information and it is presented to us in a more dynamic, easily digestible format.
In college I was taught a specific skill set within photojournalism: photography, editing, and caption writing. Of course, we were required to take news ethics and media law, but other than interviewing and basic photography (and how to measure my VO2 max via a minor in kinesiology), I had no other profound skills. I graduated with the naive notion that I could get a job as a photographer and only a photographer. This may have been true 20 years ago, but it is no longer the case.
Today’s reporters are not just reporting. Beside understanding how to compile language and interview strangers for desired information, the modern journalist must have, at the very least, a general knowledge of the Internet. Proper SEO and keyword structure are essential for guiding readers to a specific article. Before the Internet the only way to measure newspaper success was by the number of subscriptions. Now journalists can analyze the popularity of their stories by number of clicks, shares, likes, retweets, and readers’ reactions. By looking at an article’s conversation journalists can gauge what type of content interests readers.
The prominence of digital journalism means we are moving from a lecture format seen in traditional print newspapers to a conversation on a number of mediums. We have instant access to visually dynamic news 24 hours a day and reporters are now forced to adapt by learning the necessary skills to stay at the top of their game. Print may not be dead, but traditional journalism has certainly taken on a completely new and different life.
Photo: HZV Westfalen