Digital journalism: Now and into the future

Everything is digital now, including the news. Photo by Negative Space on

The future of digital journalism is a tricky subject because there is a lot changing in this world and journalism has been going through a big transition in how the industry utilizes various platforms.

There is a range in content and products news organizations put out there for people. Some content is free, but there is also a reliance on paid subscriptions which include incentives for the consumer to pay.

Journalism is about more than just cut-and-dried current event coverage and stating the mere facts. Some organizations go beyond the hard news concept and moved to in-depth explainers and solutions journalism. These stories take a different approach, so the public can understand more than just surface-level information.

We will continue to see a move toward multi-platform journalism and reporters going beyond just the facts. 

More than just a newspaper

In the age of information, news organizations are offering a variety of products to disseminate the news. Information can be found everywhere online instead of just the print newspaper that is nearing obsolete status. 

Engaging with the news is different than it was before. There are fewer and fewer people going to their doorstep for a print newspaper and most people are checking the latest headlines on their phones or computers. 

With the limitless web, anyone can share news and appear to be a journalist. Also, news organizations have possibilities to find new ways to reach different audiences that they couldn’t with a traditional newspaper or even just a website. 

The move to audio storytelling

Podcasts allow audiences a different way of consuming news that is more relational than the written word. Hearing reporters and sources tell you the story in their own voices can be more engaging than words on the page (more likely to be a screen). 

This just might be the era of podcasting, as news organizations are jumping on the platform and daily news podcasts, inspired by The Daily, were starting to become popular last year and will continue to increase listeners.

Spotify and Apple Podcasts make it easy for anyone to post and listen to podcast shows ranging from the daily news and deep dives to features and entertainment. 

These platforms aren’t going away anytime soon, so it is safe to say that news podcasts have a bright future. They make the public feel more connected with the reporters and have the potential to be more authentic than just a written story.

Get the news in your inbox

News organizations also offer emailed newsletters for even easier access to the top stories of the day. Most newsletters are free, but some companies also have special offerings for their paid subscribers. 

Some newsletters are briefings of the day’s biggest news or they highlight a feature story. In response to the amount of information regarding the pandemic, The New York Times and other news organizations created a daily newsletter specific to coronavirus coverage. 

Consider a newsletter a free sample of what a news organization has to offer. If readers engage with what they read in the newsletter, then they may be more likely to visit the website and pay for a subscription. If the numbers follow this logic, then daily or weekly newsletters can become a vital product for news organizations to gain more subscribers. 

The rise in social media usage among organizations and individual journalists

As more people receive their news from social media, it makes sense that news organizations share their stories on these platforms. When credible news outlets share information on social media, it also has the potential to provide clarity on any misinformation that appears on users’ feeds.

Social media is the future for global dissemination (if it isn’t already) and it also gives a platform for individual journalists to make their mark. They have the potential to become modern-day influencers when it comes to what stories are being shared. 

Some organizations are even hiring social media editors to increase audience engagement. These positions might become more present and valuable in the age of digital journalism and when younger people start to engage more with the news. 

It is also easy to see how many people engage with a story on social media, so tools like Twitter Analytics will continue to be helpful in understanding what stories get the most attraction.

News outlets want to be as present as possible on multiple platforms. That even includes TikTok to reach a different audience and find a more creative way of sharing content. 

There is more to journalism than just the facts

Journalists are getting more creative in how they present their stories to the public. In a time when anyone can be a journalist, it is the era of going beyond the ordinary and seeing what can capture the audience. 

Although not new, these two forms of journalism have the potential to sit alongside investigative journalism in terms of reader engagement. 

Solutions journalism

Solutions journalism describes the responses taken to address problems. It dives deeper than the typical hard news story and can have an impact on the way people learn and talk about social problems.

Schools and news organizations have partnered with the Solutions Journalism Network (SJN), which helps journalists receive training on how to focus on the responses to problems. The goal of this organization is to bring solutions journalism to newsrooms around the world. 

News organizations like The Washington Post, The Atlantic and BBC have partnered with SJN along with 175 other organizations, 17 schools and nine communities. 

If more people are aware of what solutions journalism is, then it can make a real impact on the content we see, but if people don’t know what it is, then they can’t ask for it.

In a time of such uncertainty and many problems to face, we may need solutions journalism more than ever. It is important to know what the problem is, but sometimes an even better story is how people are responding in trying to find a solution. 

Solutions journalism may have the power to make a great impact on how journalists approach their stories and what other angles might be out there to discover.

If more news organizations promote solutions journalism and partner with SJN, then it has the potential to attract a vast audience. 

Explanatory journalism

With the rise of digital journalism, explanatory journalism became more popular, but it has been around for a while. Ezra Klein from Vox believes that the public does not need facts, they need explanations

In the information age, you can get “facts” from anywhere and everywhere, but it is another thing to be able to understand the facts and realize the implications the information might have. 

Explanatory journalism does more than just present the facts. It goes in-depth and provides any needed clarification while going beyond the straight facts. This means explainers also interpret the facts and present an argument on what it all means. Therefore, the pieces might read biased, but that doesn’t make it wrong.

Especially today, explanatory journalism can thrive. Some might say it is entering its “golden age” because of the pandemic. If they’re right, we might see more news outlets publish forms of explanatory journalism now and, if well-received, continue after things appear to be “normal.”

With the amount of information out on the web now, there is much to explain. 

Published by aschmelzer

I am a journalism student at Bradley University, and I work for the campus newspaper, The Scout. Traveling and writing are my two passions, so I hope to combine those loves into one job once I graduate.

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