The average consumer processes 100,500 digital words every day, giving journalists ample opportunity to reach readers. However, advancements in technology have led to significant changes in news consumption, leaving traditional media channels on the backburner. With competition for consumer eyeballs at an all time high, how are journalists adapting to our increasingly connected world?
Take your pitch online
According to recent research, less than 1% of journalists prefer pitches by social media, with 74% stating that email is still their favoured approach. Twitter’s 140-character limit may encourage users to communicate concisely, but when it comes to pitching stories, email provides more flexibility in terms of conveying information, especially through more granular details and multimedia attachments.
Reporters also prefer email because of its exclusivity. Who wants to pick up a story that was just tweeted to the world? A well-timed email exchange gives you the opportunity to package your story for maximum effectiveness – and gives the journalist a chance to scoop competing news organizations.
Delve into data mining
Telling stories through numbers has evolved as a strategic communication tool for journalists and news agencies. Searching for patterns and anomalies in numbers, data Journalists uncover hidden stories by gathering, filtering and visualizing what is happening behind the scenes. Identifying unique angles for data-driven stories transforms abstract concepts into something everyone can understand and relate to.
“Scrollytelling” is one of the ways journalists combine interactive scrolling and storytelling to convey news. For example, The Telegraph created a stunning interactive piece on “What Africa will look like in 100 years” - flawlessly integrating graphics, data and current affairs.
Cater for long-form readers
It’s no surprise that digital audiences are now craving bigger, more immersive stories than ever before. Even in a world of pithy content and fast consumption, long-form journalism is making a comeback. With the launch of Facebook Instant Articles, the Guardian’s “The Long Read”, and Snapchat discover, audiences are beginning to embrace longer reads in unique ways. Regardless of the emergence of short-form content apps, news articles are still the most consumed type of news content (59%), outpacing listicles (13%), picture stories (20%), and infographics (8%). Long-form news also has a longer shelf, with articles being shared months and even years after publication.
Buzzfeed, a site renowned for its memes and cat photos, made waves when they hired a long-form editor late in 2012 to promote “Buzzfeed Big Stories”. Choire Sicha, co-founder of The Awl, rose to Buzzfeed’s defense claiming, “We all were told keep it short, cut up those paragraphs New York Post style, and nothing could be more than 800 words,” Sicha says. “We just finally stopped listening, and realized it was the completely opposite that was true. People wanted to read things and experience things and learn things. The Internet isn’t just for those of us who are bored at work in the afternoon and shuffling through things.” Online newsrooms aren’t held hostage by strict word counts and physical space constraints like traditional newspapers, giving journalists the freedom of length.
A local point of view
Many news publishers and media agencies now hire teams of on-the-ground journalists, media fixers and cameramen around the world, bringing local insight to their news stories. Increasing cross-border viewpoints and online collaboration tools provide ample opportunities for freelance journalists to work together on stories that cross geopolitical lines.
Oikomedia is a Greek digital platform connecting journalists, publishers, news organisations and bloggers across the planet. Creating a virtual bureau to exchange ideas and expertise, Oikomedia sidesteps the cost of establishing foreign correspondent offices by outsourcing to local professionals. In Berlin, Hostwriter collaborated with Oikomedia at Tandem Europe, encouraging other organisations to track down media professionals based on location, specialty and experience to enhance digital journalism and storytelling.
Gone are the days of linear journalism. The Internet has transformed traditional journalism into a data-mining, social media-savvy and increasingly collaborative role, where news is collected and propelled through virtual newsrooms. As the world becomes more connected on a digital level, journalists will have to adapt their skill set to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse and technologically fluent society.