8 Ways the Web Is Enhancing the Field of Journalism

Since it opened its doors to the public in 1991, the Internet has gone on to have a major impact in a whole host of sectors. From manufacturing to marketing, you will be hard pressed to find an industry that has not been impacted by the web in some way, shape, or form.

Journalism is one such industry that has definitely been affected by the rise of the world wide web. But has it been affected for the better? This is a question that definitely divides opinion. Some argue that traditional forms of journalism (i.e. newspapers) are dying as a result of web saturation. Others state that the increased content and real-time reports found online are having a positive impact on the ongoing growth, development, and scalability of the journalism sector.

Are you on the fence? Well, prepare to have your opinion swayed! To find out why we believe the web is enhancing the field of journalism, read on:

1. More opportunities

The Internet is a vast, sprawling entity that plays host to thousands upon thousands of journalistic reports, articles, and videos. In order to keep up with the burgeoning demand of web-based journalism, there are now more journalists than ever before plying their trade online on a daily basis. This is only ever going to be a good thing, as it means there are more opportunities out there for budding reporters, editors, and video producers.

Do you want to take full advantage of the opportunities that are being presented to you? If so, you should seriously consider enrolling on a digital journalism course. Should you take this educational route, you will be able to hone your craft as a media producer before you enter the world of work.

As a general rule of thumb, digital journalism courses comprise of the following lessons:

1. Digital news incorporation

2. Photography

3. Video production

4. Audio

5. Coding (HTML, CSS, JavaScript)

6. Digital storytelling

7. Personal branding

8. Social media usage

9. Data analysis

10. Development, research, and execution of projects

2. Optimized protection

More and more journalists are ditching their traditional newspaper columns in favor of digital journalism, and for good reason. Thanks to the cutting-edge end-to-end encryption tools available on today’s market, journalists now have the capacity to protect their work from hackers in a highly optimized fashion. This means that they do not have to worry about their reports being leaked without their permission, which in turn helps them to protect their reputation and brand image.

Here are four other web-based security tools that are helping modern journalists to secure their work:

1. Phone signal security

Whether they operate via the web or not, journalists still spend a lot of time on the phone. To ensure that their private calls are not compromised, they take advantage of top-of-the-line signal security technology. This scrambles the conversation that they have with their colleagues and potential leads, which means that they can talk freely and with confidence.

2. File storage

In order to succeed in the field of digital journalism, reporters have to provide a constant flow of information to their audience. This means that they must have data at hand at all times, which in turns means that they have to store A LOT of files. To make sure that these files never fall into the wrong hands, they optimize their storage security using solutions such as Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive, and Google Drive.

3. Password managers

Modern day reporters in the field of digital journalism make use of numerous online databases in order to attain quick access to their files. The more services they use in this instance, the bigger the target on their backs grow. To ensure that their online databases are not hacked into, they make use of cutting-edge password manager software solutions.

4. Two-factor authentication

As the Internet has developed over the past three decades, so has cybercrime. To provide their reports with an added layer of protection against this 21st-century plight, digital journalists take full advantage of two-factor authentication. This extra security requires the user to enter a temporary code that can only be accessed from an additional, personal device. With this level of safety in place, journalists can rest safe in the knowledge that they will be kept abreast of any attempts to hack their content.

3. Instant publication

When you are following an important news story, you do not want to wait around for hours on end to find out the latest developments. You want to be regularly updated so that you can keep your finger on the pulse of the most recent happenings. If you wait for the morning newspaper to be delivered in order to get your journalism fix, you are always going to be waiting a long time. If, on the other hand, you access the web, you will be afforded the opportunity to read your desired articles instantly and with ease. The facilitation of instant publication is one of the reasons why digital journalism is currently enjoying a surge of popularity.

4. Increased transparency

Before the Internet, corporate-funded news platforms were the only source of journalism that the general public had access to. Unfortunately, corporate funding oftentimes leads to biased reporting, which then results in only one side of the story being told. Now, thanks to the web, alternative viewpoints and opinions are afforded the opportunity to reach publication. This makes it possible for all sides of the story to be told, which in turn increases the level of transparency found in day-to-day society.

5. Credible insights

True, the web does play host to a lot of fake news. This does not, however, mean that all digital journalism is fabricated or untrustworthy. The Internet provides journalists with the opportunity to perform extensive research into the topics that they write about it. What is more, thanks to sites such as LinkedIn and AllSides, they can also fact check the information that they spread. Ultimately, this affords genuine journalists the opportunity to produce credible insights into a host of different matters.

Should you ever find yourself in a position where you need to fact check like a pro, simply put the following advice into practice:

1. Check the credentials

Before you believe everything that an author has to say, make sure you check their credentials. If they are not specialized or qualified in the field they are talking about, you might want to think twice about taking their word as gospel.

2. Look for ‘About Us’ pages

If a website fails to provide an ‘About Us’ page, they could very well have something to hide. Credible journalists use this page to tell their personal stories and provide contact details; if they fail to make this crucial information available, they probably do not want to draw too much attention to themselves and this in itself should be considered a red flag for fabricated content.

3. Keep an eye out for disclaimers

When articles seem to lean one way or another, it is safe to say that there is some degree of bias involved. Of course, everybody has the right to speak to mind their mind, but it is important that a disclaimer is provided in this particular instance. If you do not notice a disclaimer stating that the ideas, thoughts, and judgments found in the article are that solely of the author, you should retain an open mind when digesting the information. Should you fail to perform this crucial task, you could unknowingly have your opinion swayed by individual bias rather than fact.

4. Take note of the publication date

Like the food found in your cupboards, digital journalism can have an expiration date. Sometimes, you will encounter information that may have been factual at the time of publication but has since been proven false by further research. It is important that you do not have your current opinion swayed by information that is a decade out of date.

5. Find the source

When they borrow information or take inspiration from another article, all journalists must cite their source; a lack of citation in this instance should definitely be considered a red flag. When citation is provided, it is important that you take the time to find the source. This will allow you to get right to the heart of the matter in question, which in turn will help you to fend off any biases you may have encountered elsewhere.

6. Project interactivity

Gone are the days when journalism was merely words on a paper. The very latest software solutions are allowing reporters to diversify into other reporting mediums, which in turn is resulting in a distinct increase in interactive projects. Today, journalists are becoming storytellers. They are creating and producing quality videos, sound bites, and clickable links that are actively engaging the audience on a deeper level. This is creating a new form of sensory experience, which in turn is pushing digital journalism, and the field of journalism in general, to new heights.

7. Hashtag revolution

The humble hashtag has undoubtedly had a positive impact on the field of journalism. With a ‘#’ positioned in front of them, words and phrases have the capacity to spread like wildfire across the length and breadth of social media. This extends the reach of the message in question, it promotes awareness of a cause, and it solidifies the importance of digital journalism in modern-day reporting.

Hashtagging plays a quintessential role in raising the journalistic awareness of activism. Here are just a few of the most influential hashtags of all time:

  1. #BlackLivesMatter
  2. #BringBackOurGirls
  3. #HeforShe
  4. #IceBucketChallenge
  5. #OscarsSoWhite
  6. #TakeAKnee
  7. #MeToo
  8. #NeverAgain

8. Direct dialogue

The gap between journalists and their audience has never been smaller, and that is all thanks to digital journalism. Today, reporters have the capacity to open up direct dialogue with their readers via social media. Not only does this allow journalists to keep their finger on the pulse of their current audience specifications, but it also allows them to showcase themselves in a humane and approachable light. For decades, journalists (primarily the paparazzi) have gained a bad name for themselves as a result of their devious reporting tactics. Now, however, reporters have the capacity to right the wrongs of the past by actively conversing with their target consumers in a light-hearted, informal manner.

If you are a journalist, it is imperative that you find a way to connect with your online audience. Should you fail to perform this crucial task, your readers are not going to make you their go-to, trustworthy source of information.

To forge a connection with your web-based readers, you must:

  1. Seek to bridge the knowledge gap by providing useful tips
  2. Refrain from using jargon or technical language
  3. Respond to issues in a quick and efficient fashion
  4. Showcase the fact that you value and appreciate your audience
  5. Use humor, compassion, and empathy
  6. Actively listen — or, more to the point, read — everything that your audience members say
  7. Encourage healthy debate amongst your core audience base
  8. Provide unique insights into your niche sector of digital journalism

Newspapers and other forms of traditional reporting might not be as popular as they once were, but this does not mean that journalism is dying. Quite the contrary, in fact. If anything, the art of news reporting is thriving!

As with any other industry, journalism needs to change and evolve if it is to remain relevant. It is for this reason why digital journalism should not be criticized – it should be celebrated. It provides more opportunities for aspiring reporters, it provides journalists with optimized levels of protection, it facilitates instant publication, it increases transparency and provides credible insights, it enhances project interactivity, it advocates activism through the use of hashtags, and it opens up the dialogue shared between reporter and reader.

Digital journalism is sure to grow from strength to strength over the coming decade. If you are thinking about carving out a career in this burgeoning and prosperous field, now is most certainly the time to do so.