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Journalism in the Digital Age: The Art and Craft of Content Development and Delivery

Prof. Subhash Dhuliya

 

 

 

 

 

The advent of the internet also marked the beginning of the unprecedented era of the ‘New Media’. This was a symbol of a paradigm shift from traditional media to the new brand of journalism and media. This incredible shift changed the dynamism of information and content consumption. It transformed the way information was shared. It enabled faster movement and easy accessibility of information, cutting across global borders.

As technology progressed and people adapted to this progress at a fast pace, a significant transformation was witnessed in the nature and character of the New Media. The New Media was then termed as Online Media.  Today, online media is also being referred to as web media and digital media.

The term Digital Media is gaining momentum and has become a critical medium of dissemination of news. However, it is important to note that digital media can be called as an extension of traditional media in terms of fundamental concepts of news and news packaging. The key differentiating factor is the plethora of content delivery options in the case of digital media delivery mechanisms.

There are two key components of digital media: content development and marketing. Content remains at the centre of all media but with the emergence of digital technology, the delivery of the content has acquired numerous forms.  Digital media is now an emerging dominant form of content delivery. The content of digital media is also very diverse depending on the target audience right from ‘mass’ to ‘class’. We can very well say that there is now mainstream digital media that cater to the needs of a mass audience and some digital platforms that have niche audiences.

Digital media is the convergence of all forms of communication channels that existed before- print, radio, and television. In addition to these forms, it has evolved its own new forms as well. Animation and graphics are now key elements of digital media.

The age of data has also set in. There is huge amount of date available at the disposal of any media professionals.

The core concepts of traditional journalism are still the foundation of all forms of media writing. Language skills and knowledge base remain the core skills of journalism and other forms of media writings. Core concepts of traditional journalism are still valid and crucial for writing for digital media but the style and presentation have undergone a major transformation. Till the 1990s, the size of an article generally used to be around two thousand words.  The news report also used to be quite extensive. Within a decade or so, a change occurred and most of the newspapers shifted to an article of someone thousand words with visuals that were never used on editorial page before.

The technological revolution that set in around that period changed the entire landscape of media underwent a major transformation. The emergence of the internet and later ‘news on mobile’ impacted journalism drastically. ‘Grab-the-attention’ mode of journalism became dominant. News is a product now and needs a great number of marketing efforts to attract and influence the consumer. The role of media in informing readers, listeners, and viewers are no more dominant but it’s rather focused on the market where the consumer is in the central. Market forces play important role in defining the content.

Media consumption habits have also changed. Catchy headlines and short stories are now what ordinary consumer prefers. A substantial chunk of news consumers accessed the news on their smartphones and longer stories do not suit in this kind of receiver’s mode.   The size of news is much shorter now to meet the new mode of delivery of news.  Crisp and short stories in around 15o words is now a challenge for a digital journalist but if a reader wishes to read more there are links to opt for much more details. Because of market competition, ‘breaking news’ in 24×7 cycle format’s deadline is a major challenge for a digital journalist which demands strong news sense, quick decision-making skills, and much greater speed. Despite the fact that core concepts of news writing remain the same but at the same time they have extended vastly into new areas that demand different treatment and different professional skills. And if one wishes to move higher in the ladder, intellectual skills are vital. So reading should never be stopped.

We are moving towards an entirely new era of digital, mobile, and social media with more intense competition for attention. Mobile devices (especially smartphones), social media, and other intermediaries have become a major source of news

Social media is a major source of news for digital media. Keeping an eye and making a quick decision are core skills that are expected from a digital journalist. Digging our news from a huge volume of information demands strong news sense as far as mainstream digital media is concerned. Evaluating information in terms of its reliability and credibility in this kind of situation is a major challenge specifically when fake news is floating all around. Adhering to these principles is vital to maintain the credibility of the organization. In long run, credibility is important to develop and garner a loyal audience.    The same may not is the case with other kinds of news portals that cater to a niche audience.

hell: language skills, knowledge base, news sense, different kinds of writing styles, speed, and quick decision-making are key demands of digital media from a journalist.

In the present scenario, different kinds of skills are required to become a Digital Journalist as listed summarised below:

In the present scenario, different kinds of skills are required to become a Digital Journalist as listed and summarised below:

The following content is recreated and complied from web resources:

Remember the 5 Ws and an H

  • Know your audience
  • Refine your lead
  • Show, don’t tell
  • Trust, but verify
  • Strategically structure your writing
  • Mind the details
  • Aim to stir emotions

 Do remember that digital skills cannot be a substitute for fundamental journalism skills such as good writing, critical thinking, interpersonal communication, good judgment, fact-finding and verification.

Marrying both digital and fundamental skills will give you an advantage in getting your articles in front of editors and building your career as a digital journalist.

On top of having regular journalist skills of interviewing, good writing, research, and accuracy, you must have the ability to be web savvy and stand out. The good thing is you can learn how to excel at these skills.

 Qualities of the digital journalist

  • A good digital journalist must be present in social networks, being an active part in the conversation and, even, become an influencer of the sector
  • The digital environment enables new forms of communication and information
  • People with understanding of and enthusiasm for new forms of media and storytelling
  • Multifunctional journalists who can use all the tools available, particularly audio and video recorders
  • Social networks users and people who know how to gather an audience

Skills for web  journalists

  • Writing or Editing Scripts
  • Blogging
  • User Interface Design/Photo Shooting (tie)
  • Video Production
  • Reporting and Writing Original Stories
  • The application of social media can be a good source of information

The large population now gets their news via social media, it is imperative for journalists to develop digital skills. Tasks from the job ads include:

  • Reporting and writing stories
  • Producing photos and videos
  • Engaging the audience via social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit)
  • Providing analytics on social media engagement

Writing for online media

  • Writing for the internet is NOT the same: The language used in the paper is not the same as the language used in a digital context
  • The Internet is an interactive channel, where the user is not a mere passive receiver. We don’t read in the same way when we read online as when we read from a newspaper.
  • The reading is done with a brief tour that “scans” the entire screen. You read the first two lines and then you will look down into the left area, stopping in the center.
  • It is what is known as “reading in F.” If we apply this logic to this article it means that, at this point, the only thing you have read is the headline, the intro (perhaps), and point number three.
  • All this before delving into the text, which you may not do … What do you think?
  • Jakob Nielsen, an Internet usability expert, explains it very clearly “On average, users read 28% of the text in a single visit to the web, maybe even 20%”.
  • To the point. Considering how difficult it is to keep the reader’s attention when reading online, it is absolutely essential to get to the point
  • There is nothing worse than punishing the reader with infinite paragraphs that go round and round without reaching the main idea that you want to tell.
  • We must expose the main idea at the beginning; develop it as clearly as possible and finishing with the conclusions. And everything is straightforward…
  • There are many techniques for creating content. But in general, the key is to address the reader in a colloquial tone and as if we were telling a story.
  • Storytelling is the most popular
  • No too long texts. Very long texts do not work
  • Think that the information is “digested” in computers, mobiles, tablets, in the bus, at home, running, or in even stranger situations
  • Facilitating reading is key. When you start writing an article, use formats such as:
  • The quotation marks,
  • Bullets or numbered lists
  • The highlights
  • Words in bold
  • links within the text
  • Think in headlines for the Internet: Use titles that make sense, with keywords that people might be searching in Google so search engines understand what your text is about.
  • You surely want to get visits or some type of conversion. So positioning is necessary. In short, your articles must comply with SEO rules.
  • Connect with the reader. Try to take the reader to your side, getting them involved with you, through active participation. How? With comments and/or emails, to let readers express their opinions or points of view. As well as leaving links on different social networks to encourage participation
  • Online content has an advantage without a winner: the impact can be measured. Take advantage of online tools to measure audiences, page views, and interactions

Communicate and innovate

  • To Inform and communicate: Obvious, right? The journalist continues to be a journalist, that is to say, even if we change the environment and tools, the objective is the same.
  • Innovation and differentiation. It is possible that the content you generate is also in other media; highlight and offer added value to users. To bring value to our story, to differentiate us from others using different multimedia formats.
  • SEO: As one of the most basic digital terms, SEO (search engine optimization) has been around since the advent of online research.
  • Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a web search engine’s unpaid results – often referred to as “natural”, “organic”, or “earned” results.
  • Due to strong competition, this concept is more important now than ever. Once we have chosen the keyword, we have to optimize the content of our article to position it as well as possible. What, exactly is a keyword?
  • Engagement: But, wait! Because, even though you’ve generated hype around the new article, you’re not done yet. It will be necessary to interact with all those who have commented or read your article, whenever it’s possible
  • Content curator. It works with many sources and you should know how to find and choose the right one for each moment. They must have a complete and organized database
  • Today, there is too much information on the internet. Therefore, knowing how to interpret, manage and select the best data you receive is essential. The feeds’ tools of management and the monitoring of social networks acquire relevance. It is necessary to structure, filter and extract relevant information.
  • Early Adopter and multimedia. Digital journalists work daily with new technologies so, in addition to learning how to handle them, they need to be aware of any new tools that emerge. They are in constant evolution

Search engine optimization (SEO)

  • Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of increasing the quality and quantity of website traffic by increasing the visibility of a website or a web page to users of a web search engine
  • SEO refers to the improvement of unpaid results (known as “natural” or “organic” results) and excludes direct traffic and the purchase of paid placement
  • SEO may target different kinds of searches, including image search, video search, academic search,[2] news search, and industry-specific vertical search engines
  • As an Internet marketing strategy, SEO considers how search engines work, the computer-programmed algorithms that dictate search engine behavior, what people search for, the actual search terms or keywords typed into search engines, and which search engines are preferred by their targeted audience.
  • SEO is performed because a website will receive more visitors from a search engine the higher the website ranks in the search engine results page (SERP). These visitors can then be converted into customers
  • SEO differs from local search engine optimization in that the latter is focused on optimizing a business’ online presence so that its web pages will be displayed by search engines when a user enters a local search for its products or services. The former instead is more focused on national or international searches
  • SEO is the practice of including relevant keywords in your online article to improve search result rankings. You want your article to include words you think your audience will look up when searching online.

What are keywords?

Before you start writing, you can use any free keyword research tools listed here. Don’t spam the keywords as Google will reason that if you are over-loading keywords, you are spending less time on quality content, and Google only rewards quality content.

  • Keywords are ideas and topics that define what your content is about. In terms of SEO, they’re the words and phrases that searchers enter into search engines, also called “search queries.” If you boil everything on your page — all the images, video, copy, etc. — down to simple words and phrases, those are your primary keywords.
  • Keywords are essential for search engine optimization (SEO). If you want your article to be part of the list on a search engine, you have to be keyword savvy.
  • As a web journalist, it is your duty to make sure that web readers can easily scan your article and direct them to the precise information they are looking for.
  • The easier the better, hence the use of catchy headings and sub-headings
  • As a website owner and content creator, you want the keywords on your page to be relevant to what people are searching for so they have a better chance of finding your content among the results.

Why are keywords important?

  1. Keywords are important because they are the linchpin between what people are searching for and the content you are providing to fill that need.
  2. Your goal in ranking on search engines is to drive organic traffic to your site from the search engine result pages (SERPs), and the keywords you choose to target (meaning, among other things, the ones you choose to include in your content) will determine what kind of traffic you get.
  3. Keywords are as much about your audience as they are about your content because you might describe what you offer in a slightly different way than some people ask for it. To create content that ranks well organically and drives visitors to your site, you need to understand the needs of those visitors — the language they use and the type of content they seek.
  4. You can do this by talking to your customers, frequenting forums and community groups, and doing your own keyword research with a tool like Keyword Explorer.

What are long-tail keywords? 

  • Keywords can be broad and far-reaching (these are usually called “head keywords”), or they can be a more specific combination of several terms — these are often called “long-tail keywords.”
  • Singular keywords might appear to be your ultimate goal as they often have a temptingly high search volume. However, they usually have extremely tough competition. You may want your boutique clothing store to rank for “clothes,” but it’s going to be tough to rank above Zappos and Nordstrom.
  • On top of that strong competition, singular keywords can be infuriatingly vague. If someone is searching for a “dog,” you don’t know if they want a list of dog breeds, information about dog food, a place to buy a dog collar or just a site with cute photos of dogs.

Using keywords on your page

  1. It’s no good just throwing keywords on your page. Creating compelling content is about providing real value for real people, not just sending hints to our robot friends at Google.
  2. There are some basic keyword usage rules you should follow to get started. Unique keywords should be employed on each page of your site in the areas that bots and humans normally look to reassure them that you have what they’re after. This includes both the title tag and the body of your content, which leads to an important point: the pitfalls of clickbait. You may believe you’re enticing more clicks by offering tantalizingly vague titles for your content, but by disguising what the page is actually about, you’re opting out of some of the power of keywords.
  • You can also look at working your primary keyword into your URL, an H1 tag on the page, the meta description, and alt attributes of images on the page; all of these places will help clue search engines in on what your content is really about.
  1. Using your keywords in these areas is the most basic way to target your content to searches. It’s not going to immediately shoot you to the top of the results, but it is essential SEO; failing to take these basic steps can keep you from the ranking by other means.

Using keywords to formulate a content strategy

  • While you can often start with a keyword and create a piece of content around that term, sometimes your content already exists, and you need to figure out how to match it to keywords. To do this, create what’s known as a “content to keyword map” Creating this map can help you understand the impact of your existing content and identify weak links or gaps that need filling.
  • As keywords define each page of your site, you can use them to organize your content and formulate a strategy. The most basic way to do this is to start a spreadsheet (your “content to keyword map”) and identify your primary keyword for each article. You can then build your sheet to your own requirements, add keyword search volume, organic traffic, page authority, and any other metrics that are important to your business
  • Ideally, you want each page on your site to target a unique primary keyword. Generally speaking, your homepage will target a very broad industry term and as you create category pages, product pages, and articles, they will drill down into your niche and target more specific needs.

What is Keyword Research?

  1. Facebook’s new algorithm prioritizes content published by friends / people instead of sponsored content or corporate content.
  2. The end of the news feed (as we knew it): The news feed gives priority to the content with Positive Relevant Interactions (Comments, Sharing, Reacting)
  3. We don’t see content with Non-Relevant Interactions (Clicking, Watching, Viewing)
  4. Consequently, the new Facebook algorithm interprets that the content with positive relevant interactions is the content with the following characteristics
  5. Facebook understands that the users have more interest in what happens around them and, therefore, they feel more attracted to posts talking about local news.
  6. 3All pages are already registering less traffic generated from Facebook: Company pages, newspapers and other commercial websites publishing sponsored content on Facebook and non-sponsored but corporate content, are currently seeing less traffic on their websites coming from Facebook.
  7. Also, if the presence of paid content is increasingly smaller, the price for advertising paid will end up being higher. It’s simple: less advertising space and, therefore, more expensive.
  8. More changes are coming: The changes that are coming are greater. Facebook has given many and very different signals about what their concerns are and their intention is to correct the biggest ones. This leaves us with a scenario in which the media should look for alternatives that generate traffic outside the social network breaking their Facebook dependence

Posts with links

  • Post types that users prefer most (e.g., photo, video, or status updates
  • Videos downloaded directly on Facebook with many visits and with a medium / long duration
  • Posts that have as reference a trendy topic
  • Publications from pages with frequent interaction from you as a user
  • Publications of pages with complete/verified profile
  • Posts of pages where the fan base matches the fan base of other known pages and/or generating quality content
  • Local news is already more visible: Local information is considered more important because brings more “engagement”.
  • Facebook understands that the users have more interest in what happens around them and, therefore, they feel more attracted to posts talking about local news.
  • Placing links from reputable sites in your article can help boost your ranking in search engines. It is also helpful if credible sites link to your online article on their webpage.
  • Social media and live-streaming
  • Oftentimes, readers see breaking news on social media platforms, rather than the news sites.
  • The 2018 research from Pew Research Center reports that Reddit, Twitter, and Facebook have the most news-focused users and are the most popular pathways to news sites. It makes sense to create a profile on these social media sites and share your articles.
  • As a digital journalist you need to consider these five techniques to incorporate into your writing:

Hyperlinking

  • When you hyperlink, you want to ensure that when you click on a word, phrase or image within a file it takes you to a different web page or document.
  • The hyperlinked text is usually highlighted blue, italicised and underlined.

Chunking

  • Because we read differently on the web than we do in print, a huge paragraph of information as such does not cut it in web writing.
  • This is why breaking up huge text and making it easy to read is necessary. Use a numbered list, bulleted list, and subheadings. That is chunking.

All pages are already registering less traffic generated from Facebook: Company pages, newspapers, and other commercial websites publishing sponsored content on Facebook and non-sponsored but corporate content is currently seeing less traffic on their websites coming from Facebook.

Content marketing

  1. Content marketing is the art of writing and posting material your customers actually want to read. The definition sounds very simple but, believe us when we say that 2018 will be the year when all of us will relate/explore all possibilities that marketing content offers more than ever before. Today we will enumerate different strategies for using marketing content as a media company.
  2. Media fragmentation is making it harder for brands to reach consumers and for media companies themselves to capture and retain a loyal audience. At the same time, consumer trust in traditional advertising is low.
  • Recent research published by BCG shows that the three most trusted sources of information by consumers today are recommendations from family and friends, reviews by experts, and the opinions of other consumers. The least trusted sources are TV ads, brand and company e-mails, company posts on social media, and website ads.
  1. In this scenario, media companies need to find creative ways to connect with the audiences and, at the same time, retain advertising. We will draft five tips for using marketing content in this particular battle.
  2. Social media advertising: It has been a change in the effectiveness of social media advertising in the last few years. Fewer people click nowadays, but a decent amount will actually view and engage.
  3. So there’s some benefit to targeting people within a media company’s audience on social media – especially on Facebook. In a content marketing-related strategy, advertising stories work the best. Gently push more readers back to the media site, which can then help increase audience size, eventually helping with advertising revenue.
  • Social media publishing frequency: Media companies do create content that can be shared more than once. The New York Times does this really well. When they have pieces that aren’t just useful in the immediate moment, they continue sharing it on Twitter for a few days.
  • Retargeting: Retargeting, also called remarketing, is when you serve an ad to somebody who has been to your website.
  1. Often you see that after visiting a site and browsing a product page, once you leave the site, it serves you ads on other sites you visit, promoting you to come back. If people come to your site, read and leave, you need to find a way to get them back. That can help you increase your audience and views, and in return advertising revenue.
  2. Email list growths: Email marketing works and content marketers use email pushes to their full advantage to stay connected to their audiences. Of course, media companies do the same and many have good-size email lists.
  3. Targeted advertising: Serve content-related ads to the people that are in your area but that might not be reading you all that often. If you have an interesting story you can create an ad and serve it to your target audience as a display campaign. When possible, also tie it into search engine marketing and go after people who are searching for related things in your market.
  • As you might know already, Facebook’s new algorithm prioritizes content published by friends / people instead of sponsored content or corporate content.
  • The end of the news feed (as we knew it): The news feed that we have been seeing since mid-January gives priority to the content with Positive Relevant Interactions (Comments, Sharing, Reacting)
  • We don’t see content with Non-Relevant Interactions (Clicking, Watching, Viewing)
  1. Consequently, the new Facebook algorithm interprets that the content with positive relevant interactions is the content with the following characteristics
  • Posts with many Likes, comments, and shares
  • Posts that receive many Likes, comments, and shares in a short space of time
  • Posts in which a friend of your network has interacted

More changes are coming: The changes that are coming are greater. Facebook has given many and very different signals about what their concerns are and their intention is to correct the biggest ones in 2018. This leaves us with a scenario in which the media should look for alternatives that generate traffic outside the social network breaking their Facebook dependence

ontent and quality interaction: The key is then to post relevant information (History drive content) and stories with meaning without looking for the easy click.

  • In a few words: it’s about moving from clickbait to engagement bait. We must see this change as an option to improve our own content and bet on content marketing, with stories that generate reactions in our audience.
  • It is therefore a question of leaving behind the era of importance in numbers (followers and number/frequency of post) to the era of storytelling and bidirectional discussions with the audience.
  • It is about creating Facebook groups focused on the members, in which we foster environments that provoke discussion.
  • Less promotions and more opportunities to tell authentic stories through Facebook Live and your feed.
  • In short, this approach means less focus on the number of people who see your publications and focus on talking to the person to whom your publication is intended.

(A compilation from web resources by the content team)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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