In a world where technology is evolving with each passing second, it requires mankind to keep up with it. For journalists, print is a dying medium, withering away more and more each year. Devices have taken over and thus a digital era has begun. By having the world’s news at their fingertips, people are quite seldom to picking up a hardcopy of a newspaper or magazine. Shrunken audiences have made it harder for newspaper columnists to get their stories heard. Many have made the transition and traded traditional news reporting for Web 2.0, or blogging and social media. Despite having distinctive voices on paper, some columnists aren’t making the same connection with online readers as their previous audiences. Columnists know how to use their voices to make themselves separate from the masses. Apart from that, there is one more thing is extremely crucial. According to a USC Online Journalism Review article by Robert Niles, it’s all about branding.
In the 2009 article, Niles states that he spoke at an annual conference for the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, during which he gave his “Tips on Branding Yourself.” People have come to be the determining factor of other’s successes, particularly online now more than ever. And now that everyone has access to everything online, writers truly have to make a name for themselves by creating a complete image for their readers. By having this infinite collection, the only way for writers to connect with their audience is to actually connect with them almost personally. This means not only through the words in a blog post, but also through social media. People want to feel like they know the writers, and follow them throughout their days. Especially if it’s interesting. The more likely a writer “friends” his or her audience, the more likely the audience will grow.
With the growth of this online community, more interaction between readers occur. This is a huge draw for people because many love to get involved in ongoing conversations. These typically occur through blog post comments, Facebook pages, Twitter comments, and the list goes on. It allows for all readers to connect and potentially spark debates. Isn’t that one of the purposes of news? To get people talking about something they should be talking about? As a reporter, even if it is online, if you’re doing this, you are doing your job.
The overall objective of online journalism is not much different than that of print. Essentially, a blog post is like an article, and those comment conversations are like letters to the editor. The only difference is that it reaches a wider audience and a faster rate. In the same sense, many YouTubers find various ways to talk about news, events, causes, etc., through videos that reach millions of people. The success in this can be found in the personal relationship they have built with their audience. Yes, having the added task of up-keeping various social media accounts may seem daunting. But the fact of the matter is, you’re probably already doing it anyway. Maybe you are not spending nearly the amount of time on social media as expected. And maybe not all of your accounts are not a representation of yourself as a professional, but you would interact with your audience in almost the same way.
People want personal connection. It might seem a little too close for comfort for some, but that’s what audiences want. As a result of all of this, traditional news reporting is getting pushed to the side to make room for Web 2.0. When it comes down to it, modern journalists can either embrace it and run with it, or become victim to it.
Now this does not mean that journalists should only focus on digital journalism. The new Web 2.0 may not always be better than a copy of the newspaper, but it is what is happening now. By learning both traditional and digital journalism techniques, not only can journalists have all of those skills in their repertoire, but they can use them when they see fit. There may be a time when a story may seem more suitable through print. Knowing those traditional skills may help. But as of now, the masses are definitely online, so digital skills will help there. And despite being on a completely different platform, much on online journalism is like print. With that said, if ever needed, modern journalists can learn from the history of traditional media and apply it to that of the new.