JOURNALISM IS (STILL) THE PRACTICE OF STORYTELLING
February 17, 2016
By Klau Tenorio
Online journalism is here to stay, but there is a vast list of debates yet to be concluded. Continuous technological changes, their impact on the access to information and how media firms satisfy - and also monetize - new habits of their audiences, are hot topics. Consequently, it becomes necessary to think on how editorial teams should adapt their practice in order to achieve the expectations of both, companies and public. I consider that we need to embrace new technologies and tendencies, not to redefine the rules of journalism but the way that stories should be told and delivered.
The Internet involves a swift evolution of tools and consumption habits. Statistics consistently show that readers are abandoning the printed page for mobile devices. As public, we all look for accurate information, presented in video, pictures or audio if possible. Furthermore, most of the traffic of web pages comes from apps, mobile web and links posted in social networks. In the end, this information indicates that being mobile and social is essential for news providers. As a result, multimedia, timeline, update and viral have become buzzy words in streets and newsrooms.
Due to these continuous changes, prestigious media firms around the world are going trough deep internal revolutions. For instance, The New York Times launched a new digital service in Spanish with “a business model based on advertising”. The Independent is about to close its print edition in order to “ensure a sustainable and profitable future”. Recently, Newsweek had to adjust its subscription benefits to become more attractive. Even entertainment magazines such as Playboy and Penthouse are changing their old strategies, defeated by free online contents. Publishers are living a challenge that comes from the outside, from the empowered decisions of the people.
Meanwhile in news desks, old and new generations of journalists face a struggle between “classic” and “modern” journalism ideologies. Journalism is not endangered by the speed and gratuity of the Internet, I consider that contemporary practice in newsrooms must aim to preserve basic investigation principles as well as integrating them with new technological skills so we can create contents for a more critic and demanding audience. In other words, the requirements for a good story, such as veracity or immediacy, have not changed. The main change relies in the art of storytelling which has certainly become a more challenging work. However, online journalists have a new wide range of tools ready to serve creativity in a digital environment where “photojournalism, videojournalism, documentary, cinema and interactive storytelling have the potential to intersect” for the first time.
In conclusion, digital media consumption is a growing world tendency and there is no point in rejecting it. From that perspective, I believe that journalists as well as media firms “need to think differently about what it means to produce information” and we need to do it quickly. Core changes in media are strongly associated with the way we publish contents while enhancing the storytelling practice. Narrative remains as an ageless key for – online or “traditional” – high quality journalism, regardless of whether we use old or new platforms.
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