Social media, the Internet, computers, and handheld devices have surged in popularity in the past couple decades. Websites and computer programs provide an interactive platform for people to share information and communicate through digital pathways and networks. This has transformed not only our day to day lives and interactions, but also the core of journalism. For both journalists and readers, much has changed. In the past, recipients of news reports had to wait for a certain time of the day to get the news headlines around the world. They had to wait for the printed paper of the day to come out and be distributed to the public, or for TV channels and radio stations to air their news segments. But modern journalism in the digital era of today forms part of peoples’ lives on a practically instantaneous basis.
People now use their phones more frequently and experience constant connections on social media. This persistence of digital sources has compelled journalists to go digital. Otherwise, they perish. Digitization and social media in particular have led to a drastic change in the way journalists conduct their business; from how they gather information and put down their stories, to how those stories reach the intended audience. The following are some of the ways that digital trends have changed and formed modern journalism:
Greater Access to Audiences
Journalists arguably owe social media a lot of gratitude for allowing them unlimited access to the intended audience. This access brings them closer to readers and listeners than ever before. It is also easier to select a target audience due to the wider availability of data on personal preferences and the wider variety of niche-specific platforms to cater to those preferences.
The audience no longer has to keep waiting for the news anchor to air the news for them to know what is happening in their surroundings. Anyone can easily access the story from Twitter, Facebook, and other platforms. This allows easy shifts from one platform to another. It is also easy to share information between friends or family members between the various platforms.
A More Rapid News Cycle
Social media websites entail a lot of untidy collections of information. Due to the huge number of active users, words move quickly, disappearing in the shuffle within a short time. Thus, stories on social media have a very short lifespan.
Reporters must share any given story in multiple platforms to ensure it remains in the news cycle for the longest possible duration. They can also share larger quantities of stories to maintain a presence on various social media for as long as possible. Either way, keeping up with the quick pace is difficult but important.
The Challenge Of Unreliable News
Modern journalism brings about modern problems. Research indicates that 45% of the American population reliably consume the news from Facebook as their only source. Social media can be an excellent source, though it lacks proper regulation and prevention of false stories from going viral.
Social media continues to draw the attention of lawmakers. The latest instance was concerning Russia, where ‘fake’ content was found regarding the American election in 2016. This comes as a challenge to the reporters who must defend themselves as the public grows wary of them. However, social media can be of benefit to journalism if adopted accordingly. About 70% of journalists see Twitter as a handy tool.
Analytics on Social Media
Social media provides useful avenues for analytics as well as the metrics that journalists can use to diversify their marketing trends. Social media sites provide reports on trending topics and audience trends that are useful to journalists in story creation. They can use this information to tailor their content towards the interests of a certain target group.
On the other side of the coin, audiences also now have the option to choose news that suits them best. For instance, those interested in business-related information and trends can subscribe to the daily business news. For the reporting of current news, one can subscribe to major newspapers or TV channels. There are numerous platforms that one can use to learn from social media. They provide plenty of informative content that is enriching and useful to readers.
Promoting the Business of Journalism
Social media provides modern journalists with numerous tools that they can use to improve their reporting and also be able to learn how to brand their writing or companies. The main functions that social media provides to journalists and the media include:
- Gathering information
- Creation of networks through contacts gain
- Evaluating the audience interests
- Provision of room for interacting with social media users
- Promotion of journalist brands
- Sharing of their published news
Social media is a powerful tool that can profoundly improve a brand’s visibility through its sharing features. A brand marketed on social media gains influence, recognition, and brand identity, which gives the product more exposure to audiences.
It is critical for media houses to effectively make use of social media to meet their business goals. The news anchors and the broadcasters can use different social media platforms to get in touch with people on various news topics while sharing video bits which are appropriate for the platform.
New strategies have evolved for the journalism brands. Digital pathways allow room for reporting their brands on social media platforms. It is possible since the journalists can display their bios on the social media platforms pages. Professional roles of journalists become significant on the platforms as they are expected to use social media to promote their brands.
Making News and Information Convenient
People get stories from various news feeds as they scroll through different headlines on social media. They are at liberty to choose which sites to read from, and they have a variety at their disposal from which to choose.
Technology has brought a lot of convenience in the way people have access to modern journalism. People are also in a position to air their opinions through the available tools on social media and websites. These platforms allow room for comments and even sharing of articles.
Readers have their role of not just being news recipients, but also being critical thinkers who have a voice about their views on the news reports. People can question, challenge, or add valuable content to journalistic pieces through capabilities offered to social media. These forms of participation are easier now than ever before.
Sometimes journalists share live news via digital means, or promote the brands they work for. Some companies need their social media brand retweeted for the work done related to it. People get connected to their favorite reporters, and they can use social media platforms to share breaking developments and carry out live reporting.
Influential Sharing of News
Influential people use social media to promote certain information, beliefs, opinions, products, and news. These people have large audiences who follow their material via digital media, thus allowing them to sway public opinions and trends.
Journalists can use such influential people to raise awareness on various issues. A given social media influencer can collaborate with journalists to start a topic that is captivating and relevant and pass it to their audience.
Social media has provided modern journalism outlets with a chance to grow their public presence that was virtually impossible few years ago. Platforms such as Twitter and Facebook give room to the journalists to weigh in on the various conversations as they arise. And since social media content goes comments go viral, it’s possible to for the reader outside the geographical area to have access to them.
Individualistic Perspective Brought by Social Media
A journalist having a page on the social media platform is in a position to have the readers know them on a more personal level. People do follow such journalists with the hope of enjoying the publications they make and support them alongside their career.
Although this individualization of social media comes with its merits, it also has its downsides. It makes it easy for unsatisfied readers to have access to the journalists, possibly leading to insults or threats. It can also lead to people isolating themselves in bubbles of hand-selected news sources that fit their personal views, causing a reinforcement of biases.
The Speedy Nature of Social Media
News tends to travel fast, and social media ensures it moves at lightning speed. Thanks to the services from online sources, readers have the capability to view the published news any minute of the day. The old habit of having to wait for the morning newspaper is virtually dead.
When there is breaking news, journals are expected to publish it immediately to their sites and social media platforms. Then, social media play a significant role in making sure it promptly reaches a majority of the public through further sharing between platforms. Social media publish the news to its followers soon as the information is available, so there are no delays in having to wait for the full story to get the news.
Modern journalism benefits from social media since it makes it easy to build a reputation. For instance, certain newspapers can provide a Facebook or Twitter profile, enabling the journalists to have interactive sessions with the followers, share their experiences and personal thoughts, while at the same time accumulating a following that can be useful even if one decided to change their profession.
However, it has its shortcomings as well. Due to such rapid cycling of vast quantities of information, people are likely to digest incomplete news through title skimming. This leads to problems like click-bait titles and shallow sources just looking to get attention before other sources. The struggle to be the first to get the story across is real, and the fast pace doesn’t always match having things right.
Prevalence of Advertising
Modern digital journalism heavily relies on advertising, and vice versa, making the ‘’clicks” from readers matter even more. Particularly for social networks like Facebook which are primary drivers of traffic to a given publication, making it much easier to disseminate information.
For instance, from Facebook, media organizations can be able to tell publications which articles draw the most attention from readers. This helps them identify areas in which to focus their ads so that the largest number of people sees them. On Facebook, for instance, messages streamed via videos are highly prioritized, and especially the videos streamed live. This is what has lead to still pictures being put in “video” format; it increases clicks on “videos,” thus creating more profits.
The power of distribution in sites like Facebook leads to publishers dynamically changing not only what they write, but also changing where to find content. However, Facebook doesn’t dictate what the journalists should consider as news, neither the form in which it should be delivered.
Modern Journalism: The Final Line
The digital era of journalism has brought with it a quick way of accessing information through social media and the internet. Every second is filled with material from multiple channels in the news in all of the various social platforms that exist, providing users with prompt news feeds.
In this era of digitization, the news is no longer limited to printed publications or TV broadcasts. People now have access to technological devices that guarantees them practically unlimited and instantaneous access to information. It is now possible for reporters to do live reports that give their audiences coverage in real time.
Media houses are capable of building websites which apply techniques such as search engine optimization and use the analytics that significantly enhances their online visibility to their target audience. They are then marketed effectively and shared through social media, increasing their reach to more potential clients.
It is a fascinating time to think of journalism as a career as technology continues advancing it to new heights. Modern journalism continues to thrive through revolutionized media. It teaches advanced current reporting techniques and gives an opportunity for new journalists to brand themselves in media platforms based on their specific areas of interest. Through the modern digital age, so much is possible.