Decline of Print Media Ignites Digital Innovation

Cross-media news


Print media is on the decline, but a career in journalism is still a promising prospect for those willing to embrace digital media.

Doing the rounds of cyberspace at present is a story originally published on Buzzfeed of a leaked New York Times internal report that reveals the media organisation is struggling to maintain relevance and success in the digital age. The report blames the organisation’s slowness in adapting to changing technologies for this.

News distribution today encompasses digital innovations such as on-demand video streaming, podcasting, blogging and social media, so it’s no longer just a matter of good newsgathering, storytelling and writing with integrity. Journalists now need skills in video and audio production, digital photography, basic html coding, blogging and social media (including etiquette and strategy), as well as an understanding of devices like geomaps, slideshows and interactive graphics.

As new media platforms appear, new skills will need to be learnt in order for journalists to operate within them. To put it simply and bluntly, it’s a matter of ‘adapt or die’. Australian universities have now expanded their offerings to include units on digital journalism.

For those who have embraced digital media, there are opportunities in local and international native digital news organisations, as well as in niche-market digital news groups.

It’s still too early for the data to confirm the theories, but it appears that sales of digital news subscriptions may be on the rise. Society’s need for news hasn’t diminished. While there will always be a place for print media, albeit a much smaller one, companies that readily adopt innovative business models for digital news production will find themselves better equipped to remain relevant and maintain their readers. It’s up to journalists themselves to ensure they have the skills to keep up.


Aggregator aggregates aggregation

The irony of aggregating content in a blog post about the ethical issues of aggregating content is not lost on me. However, as a journalism student, it is my responsibility to keep abreast of the trends and issues surrounding this practice.

As the different platforms by which we consume news are evolving, and the lines that once kept them distinct from each other are blurring, so too are the rules that govern our journalistic practices. We are operating in uncharted, or at best, murky territory.

It is argued that aggregation is a form of theft or plagiarism. A journalist has done all the hard work researching, compiling, writing and editing content that is then picked up by an aggregator to be presented via their own channel as “new content”. Often links to the original source are hidden, or content is rewritten or summarised to the extent that there is no incentive for readers to click back to the original. The Huffington Post and Buzzfeed have both been accused of this practice. Sometimes original sources are inadequately attributed, if at all.

There are still ways to operate ethically, particularly for those budding journalists wanting to earn a reputation for professional integrity and credibility.

Just Say No To Plagiarism


This Harvard Law report by Kimberley Isbell is a must-read because it details legal implications and “best practices” for news aggregators using content that isn’t their own. If you scroll to the bottom of this post by Nieman Journalism Lab, you’ll find they’ve summarised the report’s “best practice” suggestions succinctly.

Steve Buttry is an Editor at Digital First Media, who, besides making an interesting point that news aggregation isn’t a new practice, has written comprehensive guidelines for aggregators in this blog post.

Essentially, what these guidelines all point to is that you should “link, attribute and add value” (Buttry 2012). What should really be “best practice” for journalists however, is to always write your own, original news stories.