The digital era: A journalist's friend or foe?

Published by: Claudia Korepta / La Trobe University | 26-Oct-2016
Traditional journalism and the digital era may not see eye to eye for the future of job security.

The digital era: A journalist's friend or foe?

Traditional journalism and the digital era may not see eye to eye for the future of job security, written by Claudia Korepta student a student at La Trobe University.

Prior to entering university, journalism had a lot of appeal to a wide-eyed, high school leaver. The idea of journalism sparked endless opportunities for creativity, societal influence and more importantly, employment. Traditional, digital or freelance, it didn't matter to me "“ I was optimistic for my future aspirations.

The Australian reported, 'Total number of entry-level jobs in journalism each year is in the low hundreds.' In 2011, there were "3988 undergraduate and 762 postgraduate journalism students" "“ increasing by "55 percent and 74 percent" respectively- with less than "100 entry-level jobs in journalism each year."

"Unless journalism transforms itself into a far more socially networked medium, it will continue to struggle," lecturer in Communications and Private/Public Relations consultant, Mark Civitella said.

With the rise of the digital era, social media has become the go-to outlet for not only personal but also external news and information. Deloitte's Media Consumer Survey 2016 addresses social hegemony "“ the rise and power of social media "“ as a prevalent theme among most areas of employment, including journalism.

"Journalism will struggle with the key fact that fewer people are willing to pay for information services," said Mark.

Live feeds on Twitter and Facebook articles which integrate visual, audio and video in a seamless manner, raises the question: if breaking news stories can be found for free on social media, why would you want to pay for it?

The survey finds that "The proportion of survey respondents using social media as their primary source of news has doubled to almost one in five respondents (18 percent this year, up from 9 percent in 2015), with 52 percent of respondents heading to Twitter for breaking news."

Traditionally using a one-way communication model, social media unlocks a gateway of two-way communication amongst reporting; the survey discovered "48 percent of social media users often or sometimes comment on or share news articles."

Mushroom networks demonstrated that "52 percent of consumers get at least some news from Facebook and Twitter." Therefore as a result, printed press has become an endangered avenue and the Internet "“ once a positive aspect for journalism "“ has become a reporter's biggest competitor.

In addition, the survey suggests "17 percent of total households pay for news subscriptions, which is down from 21 percent last year." With only "9 percent of survey respondents willing to pay for online news," it seems as though the avenue that journalism departments depend on may not be favourable to their success.

Which raises further questions: how can journalists make profit if there is no revenue in social media? Is journalism suffering a crisis? Or is it just traditional models that are suffering?

High demand, social media, "ongoing shrinkage and lack of funding," are some of the biggest challenges for the journalism industry. "The minute you have a domain that becomes an app, the organisation loses revenue," said Mark.

Furthermore, Virtual Reality (VR) is another innovative element, which has broken down traditional news media and created a sensory experience for viewers. Granting audiences with an immersive and realistic news experience, VR transports the audience right at the scene and allows the viewer to grasp a 3D experience of news reporting.

In 'Racing to another dimension: journalism intersects with virtual reality to create a new world,' Nonny de la Pena is a prime example of a successful journalist who has adapted to the future of technology. She began as a reporter for the magazine Newsweek, but decided to leave to endeavour reporting with the use of VR.

Her company Emblematic Group, created a project called "Hunger in Los Angeles" which demonstrates the real life proceedings of food banks in the U.S.

"My mission is still the same whether it's pixels or paper, broadcast or broadband or immersive VR or a tweet. I signed up to be a journalist and if my journalism takes the shape of these things then so be it. My mission does not change," said de la Pena.

Unless journalism departments exchange the evident technical barriers and utilise them as an asset, the future of journalism may become bleak in the years to come.

Perhaps the immediacy and ease of transferring information is what instils negativity for journalism. I don't necessarily see myself stepping out of university and straight into a journalism career, instead I have chosen to take a different career path to pursue.

Nevertheless, it doesn't necessarily mean my future in journalism is obsolete. I can just write and report from my bedroom desk and hope that my story will be engaging enough that I get a viral-worthy amount of likes and shares on social media, right?

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