Is journalism still relevant in a digital world? That is the billion dollar question asked by publishers, editors, and journalists around the world.
For sure print media, along with other forms of traditional journalism, is on the decline. While the way we consume our news may change, our appetite for valuable and well-researched information will only grow.
With 24/7 access to news on our mobiles, the digital revolution has ushered in a new era of journalism, with immediacy, decentralisation of news sources, and user-generated content as its modus operandi.
The future of journalism will not simply be driven by technological innovations, although admittedly gadgets have a large role to play.
These days, 360-degree videos and virtual reality devices work together to create hyper-real and intimate experiences of witnessing world events.
With the rise of social networking sites and micro-blogging, the traditional flow of news has changed from top-down to bottom-up; from straightforward to complex; and from daily news to hourly updates.
Today, anyone can participate as a citizen-journalist, and those who once struggled to find an outlet for their cause can now broadcast their voice to the world.
What does this mean for you as a budding journalist? How does this new, dynamic playing field affect the way writers and journalists operate?
1. Tell a story in 400 words or less
In the new (digital) world, you will have to tell your story, no matter how breaking it is, in about 400 words or less.
Crisp and snappy writing styles are preferred on the tiny screens of mobile devices, seasoned with a dash of well-placed wit or humour.
Due to the sheer amount of information that your audience will be consuming every day, their attention span is about the length of an em-dash.
The old adage, “Keep it simple, silly” (KISS) may sound clichéd, but it definitely still applies in the new world.
2. Understand the whims and fancies of your digital audience
Today’s digital audiences move at the speed of light; they skim through information; they watch videos for infotainment; they practically live on social media networks; and they are extremely active on messaging apps.
Your job as a journalist will require an intimate understanding of your audiences and how they operate…way before you attempt to write anything to persuade, educate, or inform them.
3. Influencers and bloggers now make the news
Future-proof journalists must know how to operate in a new era where everyday influencers and bloggers are actively shaping opinion and making mini-waves of their own.
Should you ignore these voices?
Should you quote them as expert sources?
How can you work with them in a way that brings value to your story, while maintaining your credibility?
How can you collaborate on certain story ideas?
These are just some of the questions that you must ask in order to be a successful storyteller of the future.
And yes, you should seek to be an influencer yourself – one that is trusted, respected and recognised in your profession.
4. New, ever-changing writing opportunities and platforms
The proliferation of news websites and online entertainment portals opens new doors for budding storytellers and journalists like you.
From the travel beat to financial news to food and lifestyle websites, you have many options to aim for and develop your specialty reporting skills in.
What you have to learn to do well though is to manage and market your online brand carefully.
Getting a byline on a reputable news site will largely depend on your ability to profile and build your personal brand.
5. Sift the gems from the rest
In an information-supercharged world flooded with fake news, your problem isn’t so much getting information as it is verifying it.
Checking and double-checking facts will be a stringent and continual requirement on the job, and you’ll need to hone your ninja fact-checking tactics and weed out untruths before packing your article off to your editor.
Editorial fundamentals of checking, filtering, packaging, and analysing information have been around for decades.
In the digital age flooded with DRUMS (Distortions, Rumours, Untruths, Misinformation, and Smears), it does seem that these tasks will be even more critical.
Go further in your media career with Murdoch University
Want to make waves by creating timely, bite-sized news? Or be the spark that triggers change in your world?
Murdoch University offers the Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, available in both full-time and part-time programmes, which brings students through the intricate process of news-making.
The programme features core modules such as Digital Newsroom, which will equip graduates with the know-how of managing and creating news pieces for digital platforms, and Video Journalism, which covers the basics of creating journalistic videos and crafting a compelling story through this visual medium.
For those interested in double major programmes, one possible combination is the Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Management, which gives you the added advantage of understanding organisation development and change.
Another interesting combination is the Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Marketing, which will provide valuable insights into the differing perspectives of news-making.
To find out more about the programme, register for a preview session or request for a prospectus here.