Journalism industry going digital
More journalists working for online publishers and broadcasters
Albert Serna, 26, a student at Mt. San Antonio College, dedicated two years of his California college career to the print edition of the Mountaineer newspaper and Substance magazine.
Yet one night, after his newsroom failed to meet deadline again, he realized something needed to change.
“I was part of a small group,” Serna said, “that decided that we didn’t want to do print anymore.”
Even after a gunman killed six people in Santa Barbara, California, the small team that provided print coverage was puzzled when that edition didn’t fly off the stands.
Many students, however, said they had been following online.
So, after nearly 50 years of providing a print edition of their newspaper, the Mountaineer transitioned to a fully online edition.
“Our stories are getting big, and you know, we are in the 1,000-plus range of reads and views, which is significantly higher than our top story, which on Mountiewire (the newspaper) was 800 people. That’s it,” Serna said.
Their biggest story has logged over 32,000 views.
Mt. San Antonio College is one of several universities that have reduced their print publications from daily to weekly or have embraced the digital age and become an online-only publication. Mediashift.org reports that the State Press at Arizona State University and the Daily O’Collegian, the 119-year-old student newspaper at Oklahoma State University, are both online only as well.
As this shift from legacy to new media spreads, students and working journalists are embracing new skills to prepare for a digital-heavy journalism industry.
Bryan Monroe, Temple University professor and former NABJ president, understands this trend and is helping his students to succeed in a fast-paced digital newsroom. Monroe specializes in digital journalism and web publishing across multiple platforms.
At the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia last month, 20 Temple students were able to put their training into practice, covering the conference live for 14 newspapers, as well as television stations, digital outlets and a radio network.
“They are learning how to become ambidextrous journalists,” Monroe said.
In addition to reporting and writing, they created multimedia projects, posted videos and used different digital platforms. The training is essential in today’s digital world.
“The thing with the real world is that if you are not doing digital, you won’t be employed,” Monroe said. “On any platform you need to be comfortable on a digital space.”
Georgetown University released a report in February 2015 that showed that the unemployment rate for journalism grads was 8.2 percent and rising.
In a push to examine digital media, Temple University received $1.3 million from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation last year to act as a testing ground for new mobile and digital practices and better prepare their students for the mobile world.
The change happening in the academic world reflects the workplaces students will enter. Print circulation slid 7 percent in 2015, while digital circulation crept up 2 percent for weekdays, accounting for 22 percent of total circulation, according to the Pew Research Center.
And then there’s this: As of March, 197,800 people worked for new media and broadcasting, while 183,200 were employed at newspapers, according to a report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in June 2016.
With the influx of new technology and methods of communication, new job titles and positions have emerged.
Joanna Jacobo Rivera is a digital editor and reporter for the website of La Opinión, a Spanish-language newspaper in Los Angeles.
For the past three years, La Opinión has been restructuring how they deliver their content. Under editorial director Gabriel Lerner, the company realized that their print content served a different audience than the website. It was necessary to treat their newspaper and website as two separate entities to serve their varying demographic. Keeping two different entities for one news company required a separate staff.
Jacobo Rivera’s job is to curate the online content for the Los Angeles metro area. In addition to making sure that all stories are up to date, she tracks analytics and social media to let print editors know what is trending throughout the day.
Jacobo Rivera has been working for La Opinión for two years, where she’s learned to present stories to audiences in engaging ways. She’s now more creative with headlines in order to get viewers’ attention.
“Unfortunately, that’s how we survived, off of clicks … so we have to find a way to make our readers engage, to make them want to click on our Facebook post,” Jacobo Rivera said. “We have to make their teaser worth their while.”
She tries to provide visuals and links to help the reader better understand the story. With her experience, she’s found that the journalism is the same — how it gets presented is different.
“The content is equally the same, I don’t think that the way that we write stories has changed so much,” Jacobo Rivera said. “Maybe the way we represent them, we show them, we display them. Obviously, you know, you have a lot more content in them. … You have all these images and stuff.”
Jacobo Rivera enjoys the freedom that digital journalism gives her. She is not restrained by a word count or page space.
The changes in the way journalism is being presented will continue to evolve. Journalists have to be responsive to how viewers are consuming their information, Lerner said.
People of color get much of their news online through mobile devices, studies have shown. With the increase of online readership and the decrease in the number of print jobs, the new wave of journalists and storytellers must be able to tell their stories across multiple platforms.
“Once we get rid of that fear that you can’t do journalism online, then we could really start to explore new media,” Serna said. “Because good journalism is done online and it has been done wonderfully in so many ways and that’s the future … and that is how we are going to survive as a media industry.”