For better or worse the internet is just a printing press with a faster turn around time. A couple clicks and you’re published.
With that said, it’s a no brainier that basic web navigation skills and the willingness to be apart of the online community is a requirement of the modern journalist. Just like previous journalist who had to adapt to tape recorders, news cameras, radio broad cast and more, journalist today must learn to embrace the web. Ignoring online is unacceptable. It is a journalism professionals job to thoroughly explore these new developments so we deliver the news to our audience in any way we can.
Some pros to journalist switching to an online medium are:
1. Instant publication – like I said earlier, a couple clicks and a story is published. This feature is redefining what who a journalist is, what is considered news and how news is being consumed.
2. The ability to add to or correcting- breaking news stories in a 24 hour news cycle sometimes come with inaccuracies. So updating or correcting information as it comes is essential in getting the story right.
3. Audience reach – Not only can subscribers read the story but they can share it with their friends. This increases the journalist audience without having to do anything more then write.
4. Branding and advertising – the expenses are low to nothing and the return value can be high with sincere connections.
5. Real time response to audience – This allows you to address your audiences concerns or questions. It also allows them to talk to each other and further the conversation.
Some cons of online journalism are:
1. Trolls and haters – people who have nothing better to do than tell a journalist how much they suck are no longer relegated to the trash bin.
2. Learning to use the medium – it’s like riding a bike. Once learned never forgotten. However, learning isn’t for the faint of heart of those scared of heights.
3. Publicity – Rule number 1 of the internet; if put out there assume someone will read it.
4. Permanency – Once published and trending, there is no going back. Nothing ever really leaves the internet.
5. Social media monster – social media is time consuming and addicting.
Some of the weariness comes from well founded concerns of money. Gone are the days where journalist put out information for a subscription price and privately received feedback, then chose what critique deserved a response. Now the responses from readership can be an unlimited amount of criticism or praise. This affects columnist and newspapers advertising dollars, which they gain more revenue from then subscriptions of late.
David Carr, columnist with the New York Times, outlines in his article, As I Was Saying About Web Journalism … a Bubble, or a Lasting Business?, the uncertainty of how to translate the traditional journalistic business model the new medium.
Carr writes, “Now everybody wants to be Vice or be Vice-like, or have a piece of Vice. For the longest time, the founder, Shane Smith, talked about Vice becoming the next CNN, which sounded outrageous. Now that it is valued at five times what The Washington Post recently sold for, it doesn’t seem quite so silly.”
So should every journalist take Vice’s lead? Can every journalist be like Vice?
Critique of the online switch writes in his blog,
George Packer critiques the Web 2.0 takeover on in “Telling Stories About The Future of Journalism” in The New Yorker.
“Everything seems set up for success in digital journalism—money, eyeballs, software, brands. Everything except one thing. “One big obstacle to long term media success remains: quality,” Carr concedes. But once that final hurdle is cleared, once the quality box is checked, the losers will be the “legacy” news organizations, those currently staffed by non-digital journalists, being abandoned by their biggest names, and suffering from such low self-esteem that they tremble at the mention of content-management systems and can already smell their defeat at the hands of Vice Media, ESPN.com, Re/code, Buzzfeed, the Huffington Post, Curbed, Eater, Racked, SB Nation, The Verge, and Our Next. And maybe quality is overrated, anyway. Given their fiscal woes, just ask the Post, the Times, and the Journal.”
But even as a critique Packer’s article was published online. This leads to the point that even the skeptics don’t have a choice. They must adapt or become extinct.
It’s clear that the landscape of Journalism is changing. Editors view writing a blog, updating a twitter status and maintaining an online column are basic functions of print journalism, just applied to a new medium. With the decline in staff, wearing many hats is necessary in keeping a job. Not translating well or careless steps online can cost a job.