The future of journalism is uncertain. The days of waiting for the morning newspaper, or sitting down to watch the six o’clock news are fast coming to an end, as the industry scrambles to stay relevant.
Here are the trends that are shaping the future of journalism.
It’s rare, lately, to see faces as you walk down the street. Increasingly, all we see are the tops of heads, so engrossed are people in their phones.
The smartphone has revolutionised our reading habits. Not only must journalists created branded content, they also have to consider presentation. According to a recent report by comScore, 96% of millennials (18-34 year olds) consume news on a mobile – with 36% of them getting their news exclusively from mobile. People aged between 35-53 years consume 94% of news via mobile devices, and 72% of those aged 55 years or over prefer reading the news on mobile devices.
So given that the majority of news consumers are getting their news on mobile, journalists must come up with attention-grabbing headlines, watch the length of their copy – readers don’t like to scroll too much – and plan the overall presentation of their story with mobile in mind.
More people are getting news on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. Twitter has been known to break news stories well before they reach the newspaper, either online or print editions.
Social media enables journalists to get instant feedback on stories, which can help them improve future work. Comments, likes, and shares are all ways people engage with the news on social media, and one of the reasons people consume so much news on social media. They enjoy sharing opinions, positive or negative.
Journalists can’t ignore social media. It’s no longer enough to write a story, post it on Facebook and begin to write another one. They need to engage with the audience, read the comments, and evaluate the different reactions. It’s a great way to tell which story was a hit and which was a massive flop. It’s also a great way for journalists to develop relationships with readers, which strengthens their credibility as a writer.
The future of journalism depends on this type of engagement. Knowing what audiences want and like will make it much easier for journalists to do their job.
Participatory Journalism has become popular recently and will be even more so in years to come. Social media combined with modern technology has enabled anyone to take on the role of a journalist – ‘citizen journalist’ – despite the lack of training.
Newspapers have embraced user-generated content and material that goes viral because readers love it. It gets the reads, the likes, and the shares.
User-generated content has also taken the pressure off to an extent. Since it’s difficult for journalists to attend every event, as it happens, especially spontaneous ones, news organisations have embraced citizen journalism. They encourage user-generated content as it provides them with written reports, photographs or video footage of stories as they unfold. Such content is used by journalists ‘as is’ or as the basis for stories that are developed over time.
Newsrooms regularly call on the public to submit eye-witness accounts of events, in particular photos and video footage. As the quality of these submissions improve, the demand for them will increase.
What skills will be required by journalists in future? Hitting the keyboard to knock out a 500-word news report is no longer enough. Journalists need to produce content to suit multiple devices and tell compelling stories in more than words.
Video skills, for example, are essential as video becomes increasingly popular. Journalists need video skills – both live and animated – to keep up with consumer demand for this type of content.
Data journalism and data visualisation, digital storytelling and mobile journalism are all skills in demand. Journalists need to be tech savvy, with advanced skills in programming, web tools and web culture.
The survival of the newsroom depends on journalists developing these skills to a high standard and using them in all aspects of their work. As the media evolves, the survival of journalism depends on the ability to adapt and embrace change in the digital age.
– This post was written by Emma Vince – former Digital PR Lead at Tinderpoint.