Journalism began with the reporting of current events in print, specifically in newspapers. However, as technology and digital communication have advanced over the last decade, its scope has broadened, and its definition has developed into an all-encompassing sphere of information. Following print, radio and television, the current step on that evolutionary ladder is digital journalism, which is the most commonly utilized and popular source of news consumption in today’s world.
The ability to communicate with others in a meaningful way is what sets humans apart from animals. Over the years, humans have developed different ways of communicating with each other, from cave drawings to infographics on social media platforms.
The 20th and 21st centuries transformed human communication, speeding up a process that had been in the works for hundreds of thousands of years and propelling it forward at a breakneck pace. People are now walking around with smartphone devices capable of linking them with anyone in the world in a matter of seconds. And all this was made possible only a few centuries after books became widely available.
These technological advancements in communication have led to a revolution in the journalism field. Nowadays, reporters can operate globally in ways that were unimaginable in the earlier days. As the 21st century continues, journalism will continue to evolve with the advances in technology. Despite technological advances transforming journalism, there will be a constant need for qualified journalists.
Evolution of Modern Journalism
The internet emerged at the turn of the 21st century as a new journalism medium for a new millennium. Another significant change was the emergence of many types of media and varied voices. Along with the major news networks, a plethora of new cable channels, internet sites and social media feeds have appeared.
The internet has transformed how journalists and media organizations function, apparently overnight revolutionizing global business and communication. Old-school journalistic outlets have struggled to adapt, while innovative forms of journalism have thrived in a media world that is nearly unrecognizable from a few decades ago.
Journalism in the Digital Age
There was a transformation in journalism at the end of the 20th century and the start of the new millennium. Traditional journalism was all about journalists functioning as independent sources, attempting to present news in a fact-based, objective manner. While this continues in some news outlets, improved access to technologies has resulted in the growth of citizen and activist journalists who openly have a bias or point of view but strive to promote that position via a lens of fair framing, editing and reporting.
Some people use these tools to spread misinformation. Furthermore, the internet has enabled all of us to become authors: anyone can start a blog and broadcast an opinion to the world, where it can go viral without any fact-checking.
Journalists in the digital age must work in an environment where the news cycle is faster. As a result, balancing timely and in-depth reporting is frequently more difficult. Journalists can gather material from social networks, organize video interviews using instant messaging software, and then publish directly through text, images and videos, bypassing the links of paper, printing and transportation and instantly pushing news to people.
Skills required for Digital Journalism
To start off as a digital journalist, having a smartphone and good editing software is enough. However, just having the right tools will not be sufficient without having the required skills, as the field of digital journalism is ultra-competitive. Some of the skills that can help you if you are planning to pursue a career in journalism in the modern age include investigative skills, writing, research, audio-video editing, the basics of web design, and even self-motivation.
Along with these skills, you can even upskill with courses such as a digital journalism master’s program from a top university at your own convenience. A degree such as the one at St Bonaventure University can open the doors of journalism for you at the global level as you will have the skills to create content for conventional and digital platforms. It can teach you all the required foundation skills that are essential for a successful journalism career in modern times, along with giving you a greater understanding of technological advancements.
A master’s degree in journalism equips you with a variety of jobs in the marketing and communications area, including copywriter, staff writer, reporter, producer, editor, technical writer, and others. The digital world has opened new avenues for journalists, but today’s professionals must be well-versed in various media forms, including social media, video streaming and mobile apps, to be great content makers.
Technological Tools for Modern-Day Journalism
Modern journalists now have numerous tools at their disposal. Some of the indispensable tools accessible to journalists are:
- Computers – With access to internet-connected computers, reporters can write their stories and quickly send them to publications. They can attach relevant audio, video and other media with ease from anywhere in the world.
- Internet – Before the internet, reporters had to take their stories back to the newsroom for publishing in print media. Now, reporters can file their stories from anywhere, allowing news organizations to make the news live on their websites within minutes.
- Videoconferencing software – Connecting with sources, subjects, and even editorial teams has become convenient with various video and teleconferencing software.
- Smartphones – Even citizens can become reporters with the ease of access offered by smartphones in the transmission of data, information, audio and video files. Journalists can create the content from their devices without even needing a computer.
- Social media – Following social media trends and analyzing existing content for likes, shares and comments can give ideas to reporters about where more research is needed.
- Digital recorders – In the past, reporters had to rely on shorthand to quote a subject accurately, which is not an easy task. Modern-day journalists can simply use recorder devices to record, store and playback hours of content. Some even have access to high-level voice recognition software that can transcribe audio files accurately to a high degree.
- Digital camera – The cameras serve the dual purpose of capturing high-quality photos and video. In earlier days, film cameras were a pretty expensive affair, making them something suited for professionals. Now, phone cameras are in everybody’s hands, and there is no restriction on who can capture a photo or a video. Professionals still use advanced cameras that can capture close-ups and something far away in the field.
State of modern journalism
The major declining factor for the conventional newspaper industry was a bad decision on the newsroom’s part. When newspapers first began releasing their material online for free, they assumed that online advertising revenue would compensate for the loss of subscribers and physical sales of newspaper copies. However, the generated revenue was nowhere near as much as predicted, and when outlets switched to paywalls, their viewers protested, having been accustomed to receiving the content for free.
Because of this, major conglomerates have consolidated the industry by buying out smaller news outlets that were struggling to make ends meet. In some such ventures, these giant conglomerates have turned the news into a medium for imparting their own agendas. The viewpoints depicted in these conglomerates border on showcasing their propaganda. Many of these companies have also cut jobs to increase profits.
In addition to the bad decision of moving to digital editions, the COVID-19 pandemic harmed numerous businesses, including journalism. During the pandemic, many smaller news outlets closed, and even larger news providers had to cut back due to loss of income. They even had to lower their coverage for non-essential events such as live entertainment and sports. However, with so many people stuck at home due to the pandemic, online news outlets thrived, as did social network news reporters, who were uniquely equipped to adapt and react to the new normal.
How have different types of journalism adapted to technological advancements?
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were only 47,100 jobs for news analysts, reporters and journalists in 2021, and it is expected to decline by around 9% in the next decade. There are many different types of journalism that require a variety of skillsets and tools. No matter the type, technological advancements have changed the landscape of the whole industry.
Below are some examples of how technology has impacted the different types of journalism:
- Traditional journalism – This is one of the most affected industries as traditional journalism outlets were the slowest to respond to the changing landscape in the industry. Over the next decade, there is going to be an almost 10% decline in the reporting jobs in the US.
- Broadcast and cable journalism – These types of journalism are still relevant, but digital journalism has impacted the content on these broadcast channels. With the presence of digital media, broadcast and cable journalism has turned into infotainment, where it creates content to attract the audience, rather than creating content with proper impact.
- Print news – Other than newspapers, magazines and tabloids were the other most affected print publications. With high printing costs and high-quality writers, long-form journalism has declined, making the industry pivot to the digital arena in an online format.
- Sports journalism – Conventional sports journalism players such as ESPN are now competing with new players such as subscription sports sites. Such online sites are now the go-to platform for most sports writers. Even the players prefer interacting directly with the fans through social media platforms and other online sports sites.
- Social media journalism – This type of journalism has only come into the picture with all the technological advances and the world turning to digital media for information. It started with journalists posting content on Twitter and Facebook, but now they have moved on to even photo and video sites such as Instagram and TikTok.
How are technological advances shaping journalism?
As mentioned above, the face of journalism has changed drastically, and technological advancements are reshaping the whole industry:
- Role of data and artificial intelligence (AI) – The addition of AI in the reporting process can make the work more efficient. AI platforms can help in fact-checking and even generate automated news coverage. Although AI can assist in reporting, It cannot replace journalists. As they are essential in understanding the context of data parsed by the AI tools.
- Social media and brand journalism – Social media platforms and podcasts have become one of the most popular sources of news content for the current generation. Several newsrooms have turned to Facebook and Twitter to break stories. Reporters are able to communicate with their audiences in a better way. Brand journalism is also making waves in the industry as its content is designed in a way that highlights the particular company’s values. These types of content encourage viewers to focus more on the organization’s offerings.
- Blockchain to Combat Fake News – Primarily known for cryptocurrencies and NFTs, blockchain systems can also have a number of other benefits. Blockchains can assist newsrooms in enhancing public trust, while also increasing financial sustainability. Blockchains can be used by individuals and businesses to permanently preserve and track records of online transactions and digital interactions. Information in a blockchain system may be easily authenticated and traced back to the source, thereby making it easier for users to verify that a specific story was published by its indicated author and perhaps aiding in the prevention of the spread of hoax news pieces.
Future of Journalism
What will the future of journalism look like? While change is unavoidable, the internet and digital age are going to stay. Society will continue to explore new ways to communicate and interact as the 21st century progresses.
Because of the recent drop in journalistic jobs and attacks on ‘fake news’ media. Some sites are questioning if journalism has a future at all. This is most certainly an overreaction. Most nations have the right to a free press, and enough people want to hold leaders accountable through journalists. Which helps to keep the profession alive. Journalism could eventually. Become a certified profession comparable to that of an attorney, therapist, or any other licensed professional. Who must be approved by a regulatory body.
Whether or not that happens, journalists in the digital age will have to continue to adapt. New technology, platforms and tools will undoubtedly emerge. The greatest journalists will discover ways to incorporate them into their work or explore new niches in the profession. Journalists will need the same level of curiosity, writing ability, and ability to discern facts as today’s journalists. But they will have to rely more on digital film, photo and editing skills. As well as their own ability to ‘build their brand’. While the main players in the industry may be able to specialize in one area. Other journalists should look to branch out and take on new challenges.
Journalism in the Age of Technology: A Constant Transformation
The field of journalism has developed from its pre-Industrial Revolution origins to. Its contemporary incarnation of citizen journalism and media conglomerates. Journalists and journalism students in the 21st century must be prepared to adapt to new platforms and technology. While being in touch with public consciousness in order to do their professions effectively.
While journalists confront an uncertain future. Opportunities for entrepreneurs with a grasp of technology and humanity to deliver great stories will always exist. Whatever they name themselves, this is unquestionably the definition of journalism.
Data has become one of the most valuable assets in existence today. Resulting in a renewed emphasis on gathering. Processing and utilizing information to generate tailored content specific to each and every user. As a result, the capacity to find a balancing act among transparency. Privacy and security while using the enormous potential of data and technology. Aided by intelligent innovation, is what will distinguish a news organization in this exciting new era of possibilities.
New technologies such as AI will promote increased efficiency and automation across several industries, including publishing. However, as AI goes from research and development labs to real-world applications. We should expect more passionate debate about its effect on society – about the rate of change, transparency and justice.