Where Is the Value in Journalism These Days?

Nowadays news is a commodity, it is literally everywhere. Gone are the days of real investigative journalism certainly in the trade and online press, when a story might have been worked on for days, sometimes even weeks. Today there are millions of people blogging about anything and everything. Of course, they might not write well, but they can certainly share their opinions and publish these for all to read.

The online world has changed the way we consume news. It is true that with digital journalism there are fewer barriers to entry and certainly much lower distribution costs. Thanks to a vast array of diverse technologies the flow of information that was previously controlled by traditional media such as newspapers, magazines, radio, and television has been democratised.

But how do you differentiate between good and bad and where is the value today, especially in digital journalism when consumers so easily flit from one site to another?

The only real filter between the information that you can find in the public domain in blogs and various other news outlets compared to stories that you read in online publications, like TechWeekEurope for example, is the quality of the news combined with the quality of the brand, i.e. the publication and the content that it prides itself on delivering.

Quality of content is king. I very much see our role, as publishers, to deliver highly relevant news to our readers and we are committed to ensuring that our stories are fair, unbiased, factual, relevant and interesting. That’s what draws our readers back; it is down to the quality of the stories we produce.

Going back to my opening remarks, today not only is it not that difficult to find news, but the speed of news is so much faster than even a few years ago. In the ‘old world of journalism’, say 25 years ago, a journalist would write one article a week and that would be a thoroughly ‘crafted’ piece. Nowadays journalists write anywhere between six and seven news articles a day and somewhere between 35 and 40 articles a week.

In the past all the techie journalists would travel to press conferences, to Silicon Valley in California for example, to see the latest and greatest in order to be able to report back in their own countries in their own publications. Today journalists can simply watch presentations live on video and get the same amount of information as if they were there. The only element that is missing is the personal interaction, the one-on-one conversations, networking and perhaps a bit of context, but 90% of what they need to write a story can be gained in this way.

So back to my question how does the ‘new style’ digital journalist deliver value? How does he or she differentiate themselves from all the others?

The ‘new journalist’ works on speed of content. They also think about how readers want to consume content and will write concisely so that the content is easily consumed on a smaller screen. It is a fine art to write in this way, but we know that at least 50% of our readers consume news on mobile devices, so they want shorter nuggets of news that they can digest quickly and easily.

According to Ofcom’s News Consumption in the UK Report published in June 2014, there has been growth in the number of those who use any internet or apps for news, with over four in ten (41%) doing so in 2014, compared to just under a third in 2013 (32%). This is particularly evident in the 16-34 age group, where use of internet or apps for news has increased from 44% in 2013 to 60% in 2014 and is continuing to grow at a similar rate in 2015.

So as how we consume news has changed and continues to change, the speed that news is delivered is paramount as is the relevance of that news. From a publisher’s perspective, the online publication needs to be consistent in its style and create an emotional link between the journalist and the reader so the reader stays engaged. The quality of content also has to be both highly relevant and highly targeted to the reader, which brings in a whole new subject around customisation, personalisation and targeted advertising that I will save for my next blog. Suffice to say there is real and deep value in journalism in the digital era and both publishers and journalists alike are having to rapidly evolve to make themselves relevant in an increasingly crowded landscape.

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