As the landscape of digital journalism continues to evolve rapidly, the reporting medium must match the pace of newly-arising approaches and formats. How can invested brands stay abreast in this constantly changing field?
These days, news comes in all shapes and sizes — long gone are the days when families gathered in front of the TV to listen to Walter Cronkite deliver the latest. More recently, even the newspaper has begun to fade, according to the Pew Research Center, quickly replaced by more complex and multifaceted mediums.
As the pillars of traditional reporting crumble, we can’t help but ask: What will emerge from the rubble? During this period of relatively rapid change, it’s important to parse out the underlying trends in order to sketch a blueprint for your content strategy — no matter what kind of news you’re trying to engage with.
Past: Native Digital News
Back in 2014, when Ezra Klein announced his transition from the Washington Post to Vox Media, it literally made headlines, such as in the New York Times. The astonishment sprang from the decision to go digital — Vox is a self-proclaimed “technology company that produces media, as opposed to a media company that uses technology.”
Yet there’s no doubt that Vox has done well for itself: in the month of April alone, the site accrued nearly 113 million unique visitors. According to another Pew Research Center article, Vox’s peers are succeeding as well — companies like Buzzfeed, the Huffington Post, Vice News, and Gawker Media show no signs of slowing, especially as each has developed its own unique content, aesthetic, and overall brand dynamic.
What all of these success stories point to, moreover, is that the strength of a brand’s content often lies in its agility across social media.
Among Facebook users who browse the site for at least an hour a day, 67% get their news from the platform, and overall, one hyper-specific yet digitally-savvy demographic, 18 to 19 year olds, make up 34% of Facebook’s news consumers, as Pew Research Center reports. On the largest social media platform in the world, shareability makes all the difference, as the pieces can now virtually promote themselves.
Present: Electronic Devices
In January 2015, when Snapchat first debuted its much anticipated news tool, Discover, they failed to take the notion of shareability into account. The company partnered with media outlets like National Geographic, CNN, and ESPN to deliver time-sensitive news pieces every 24 hours.
Its partners, too, were very much looking forward to gaining access to a new audience. As Senior Vice President and General Manager of CNN Andrew Morse explained, “Snapchat is one of the most engaging platforms out there, and we’re excited to be able to program content specifically for that audience.”
Snapchat used the launch to reposition itself as a media company, and actually began producing its own content in the form of videos and articles.
In a move undermining its messaging roots, however, Snapchat blocked users from sharing stories within the app. The numbers proved that this move was indeed a misstep: since Discover’s launch, viewership has dropped to an average range of 30 to 50%, according to The Information. Recognizing their critical mistake, Snapchat recently lifted the walls of the news portal in hopes of bolstering its dwindling viewership, as Wired reports.
— NYT Magazine (@NYTmag) April 22, 2015
For a recent cover, the New York Times Magazine incorporated creative content and shareability in big way. According to Wired, the company commissioned French artist JR to create a massive black-and-white image of a young Azerbaijani immigrant on the sidewalk right outside the Flatiron Building, then photograph the image from a helicopter.
In preparation for its NewFronts publications presentation, the magazine captured the entire process for a virtual reality video produced by VRSE, and produced a piece on it.
The Times isn’t alone on the virtual reality frontier. Nonny De La Peña, the “Godmother of VR,” recently released her latest installment in an immersive 3D series: a reconstruction of the shooting of Trayvon Martin, according to the Guardian.
Indeed, the Columbia Journalism Review believes all journalism and storytelling will eventually take the virtual reality route. Although the medium isn’t exactly accessible to everyone, its goal, in a way, is to make all experiences accessible. It’s a mysterious and intriguing medium, and brands as well as content producers should definitely keep an eye on it.
What to Make of It
There’s no denying that within just the past decade or so, the field of journalism has changed dramatically. As storytelling takes on new forms, one necessary step remains relevant: shareability.
In order to keep up with the ongoing development of new technology, content must be engaging, agile, and versatile if it’s going to reach a wide audience. As journalism becomes more and more democratized, it’s vital that every player with vested interests create new and unique content for the world — especially brands and businesses.
By developing, creating, and widely disseminating relevant content, a business can hone in on their unique brand and, more importantly, communicate with as broad an audience as possible.
Longneck and Thunderfoot offer thought leadership services to turn your company executives’ opinions and insights into authoritative content that starts meaningful sales conversations. Learn more about thought leadership here.
(Main image credit: Matthew G/flickr)