Can Journalists Keep Up With Digital Age? Ottawa’s Nick Gamache Comments
Years ago, when “digital” was just emerging, a journalist’s main job when it came to digital technology was to report their story and then maybe email it back to the newsroom. This, quite possibly, was their only brush with digital technology.
Today, it’s a whole different ball game. In the middle of this digital age, journalists are required to use and master a variety of new tools; from capturing compelling footage with a smartphone, to detecting misleading or fake content, to creating blogs, YouTube channels, podcasts, and more.
The question now becomes, how can traditional media keep its influence in the transition to digital?
Molly de Aguiar, managing director of the News Integrity Initiative (NII) at CUNY’s Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism, perhaps best sums up where the news industry is at.
She says: “Clearly, there are many things converging to overwhelm journalists right now — the 24/7 news cycle, the amplification/urgency that social media adds to that, the intense pressures to churn out stories that will generate traffic and generate ad revenue, the attempt to discredit journalism by calling it ‘fake news.’ Most journalists don’t have the authority to actually do much about how their newsroom operates.”
With more and more readers consuming news digitally, journalists of the future will face a number of challenges. For example, no longer will the reader come to the journalist for news, instead, the news will have to go to the reader.
As Facebook and other social media platforms continue to provide new pathways to journalism, modern audiences don’t want to work to find the news. Today’s digital journalists must be able to write their story, but they also must know how to market it. At the very least, reporters should know how to use SEO to their advantage.
Raju Narisetti, senior vice president and deputy head of strategy at the new News Corporation explains further: “In the print world, there is a position called circulation marketer, whose job is to figure out how to make money. That doesn’t exist in the digital world.”
Instead, Narisetti says the definition of a journalist must include, “I will do everything I can to bring more people to my journalism.’”
With a large number of consumers reading their news through mobile devices, journalists must adopt a “mobile-first” model or risk becoming irrelevant. This means producing stories in a way that is easy to view on a small screen. For instance, long narrative print leads can be replaced with shorter, attention-grabbing leads that can quickly be absorbed when displayed on a small screen.
Former Ottawa journalist Nick Gamache says that while great journalism still matters, how readers experience it is equally important.
“Great content is no longer enough. Journalists must be able to create compelling experiences to get consumers to come back. In a world where people go from source to source, and device to device, to get their news, it only gives journalists a short amount of time to grab their attention,” Gamache explains.
Even in the current climate where keeping up with a digital landscape is crucial, one component of modern day news remains the same – responsible journalism still matters. It is part of the glue that holds us together as a society, and it encourages readers with stories that truly reflect the flavor of our communities.