Journalism and the role of a journalist have been significantly changed due to new digital technologies. Rather than just writing for newspapers, radio, or television, journalists have had to actively engage with social media and use online platforms to connect with their audiences. New digital technologies have had both positive and negative effects for journalists.
According to Jericho (2012), one of the positive features of Twitter and other social media is that it, “allows journalists to make contacts with sources they otherwise have not found”.
Social media has not only allowed journalists to get direct contact with certain sources, it has also enabled a journalist’s audience to communicate and have conversations with them. As Jericho (2012) explained, “Twitter made journalists available to their readers in a manner that had never happened before. Before this new-media platform was constructed, journalists were essentially divorced from their readers or viewers”.
Ricketson (2012) discussed the fairly recent 24-hour news cycle and its effect on politics and journalism. He conveyed the negative side of having to report breaking news around the clock, “The number of reporters has not grown nearly as much as the number of outlets. The result is that there is more recycling, less checking, more commentary and interpretation”. There may be more news available, but it is not necessarily reported to the same high standard.
Information gathering for journalists is made much easier because of technological change but this also presents many problems to the journalist of trying to discriminate what is relevant and what is quality information (Ricketson 2012).
Journalism is not the only communication field which has been changed by digital technologies, public relations has also undergone a dramatic change. Foster (2012) explained that, “Brands need to join the online conversation in order to remain competitive and meet consumer demands”. It is a public relation consultant’s job to make sure that the companies they are working for are engaging with their target audience. Social media is now a key channel to publish content and engage directly with audience making PR less reliant on journalism, according to David Pembroke.
In the lecture he gave, David Pembroke also identified PR as no longer just about writing media releases and pitching stories to journalists. He said PR’s role now is to empower clients to take control of their own content. He believes that companies no longer need to rely on traditional media coverage, they are able to reach audience directly through own communication channels. Digital technology is not just a 9am-5pm task, both PR consultants and journalists need to always be on the ball and responding on social media.
The following YouTube clip explores the effect of social media on the profession of journalism:
Paul Lewis in this Tedx video looks into citizen journalism:
This article investigates the impact of social media on PR and journalism:
Foster, J. (2012). Writing Skills for Public Relations: Style and Technique for Mainstream and Social Media. London: Kogan Page.
Jericho, G. (2012). Journalists all a Twitter. In The Rise of the Fifth Estate: Social Media and Blogging in Australian Politics. Retrieved from http://webpac.canberra.edu.au/record=b1688007~S4
Ricketson, M. (2012). Australian Journalism Today. South Yarra: Palgrave Macmillan.