It was not so long ago that you read the newspaper while sipping your morning tea. You savoured the editorial opinions that provided insight into current events. You learned about events happening in foreign countries. You planned your weekend. While at work, you talked about your discoveries at the employee water cooler or in staff meetings.
In the evenings, you may have had another tradition of sitting down with a cocktail and watching the evening news. Here you could find out what had happened during the day, and get sports scores and weather updates. Yes, it was not long ago for you. But in the world of technology, these pastoral activities were generations ago. Technological advances have pushed newspapers and scheduled broadcasts to the edge of irrelevance.
Now you consume your news the moment it happens, through websites and social media. You no longer have your news curated for you. You no longer have to rely on the ethical integrity of journalists for unbiased information. Information on nearly everything is available at any time. Right, left or centre, you can find news, cast in whatever bias you want.
If you are in the journalism profession, these changes have transformed the way you do your job. If you can’t keep up, you may become a relic and go the way of the dinosaur, which today is the daily newspaper. Your best bet is to embrace the changes, and take advantage of how technology is helping modern journalism.
The way news is gathered
Technology has eased the life of journalists in many ways. For example, in the past, reporters often had to ‘get in the thick’ of a news story such as war in order to get the proper detail. But thanks to the journalistic version of crowd-sourcing – called user-generated content – you don’t necessarily need to risk life and limb to get first-hand accounts of dangerous situations.
Reporters don’t even need to go across town to get footage of the local human interest story. With most people carrying around cameras all the time, you are likely to have several points of view from which to choose. Of course, this means you may end up spending more time sifting through the content and fact checking, but the volume of information will make for more comprehensive coverage.
On the face of it, the idea of news generated by algorithms seems to be a threat to journalists. But bots are used to streamline tasks journalists don’t want to do anyway, such as compiling financial data or sifting through data for key terms. They allow you to focus on researching and writing great content. Bots may also speed up your fact checking in the future.
The way news is delivered
Social media has been a major player in the delivery of news, for years. A substantial portion of your readership gets their news from social media, and it can really increase your reach. Twitter is no longer limited to sending messages of 140 characters. Journalists such as Alison O’Riordan use Twitter to post articles and news items. Her method of building a following with Twitter is an excellent example of the benefits of merging social media and journalism.
With so many people online, having captivating visuals and relevant embedded items with your news is important. Facebook and YouTube offer users the ability to see 360° images. Many stories embed links that take readers from the story to related items, such as information on where a story has occurred, or a call to action to help with a crisis. These add value to your journalistic product. Incorporating these features with your stories will build followers.
In the future, journalism will be more responsive to the individual news interests of users. Technology now lets you anticipate what users want to know, or packages data in an accessible way. Google can tell if you’d like to know the weather, and previously dry data files have been transformed into interactive tools. Journalists can take advantage of these advances to create in-depth and impactful stories.
As you move into the next generation of journalism, it’s important to keep an eye out for the technology that will change how you do your job. Most technological advances mean the wider dispersal of information, but too much of a good thing can lead to chaos. Learning to harness technology to get the best sources, filter and write the best stories, and deliver your stories in the most user-valuable way will give you a definite leg up as a journalist.