DIGITAL ERA IN JOURNALISIM
With the blossoming of electronic communication tools and platforms, news organizations have discovered a plethora of new opportunities in information delivery, as well as the challenge of interweaving data privacy and security with innovation.
Journalism originated as the reportage of current events, specifically in printed form, i.e. newspapers. However, propelled by the massive growth in technology and electronic communication over the past decade, its scope has expanded and its definition has evolved into an all-encompassing domain of information. The current stage on that evolutionary ladder — following print, radio, and television is digital journalism, the most widely used and popular driver of news consumption in today’s world.
As of now, as many as 80% of Indians consume news on the Internet, primarily through the social media and instant-messaging services. The large-scale use of services like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube has allowed news organizations to offer regular updates to consumers on current events, bypassing barriers of time and accessibility. In fact, advancements made in chat-bots have also made it possible to deliver curated news, stock market updates, and other relevant information, tailored specifically for the individual consumer, on WhatsApp and Messenger.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has played a key role in highlighting the emerging potential of technology in automating news delivery on digital mediums. In evidence to this, Xinhua, the state news agency of China, recently unveiled a virtual news anchor running on AI, which is able to deliver news 24 hours a day on its website and social media platforms. Equipped to learn from live broadcasting videos, the AI anchor can simulate human voice, facial expressions, and gestures, and reads texts as naturally as professional news anchor.
The use of News-bots and Stock-bots to provide users with alerts and updates on the economy and relevant corporate and market news has helped in the rise of subscriptions as a revenue model, marking a shift from conventional print subscriptions to digital publications and aggregators, as customers are more favorable to the idea of paying for personalized features and improved levels of convenience tailored specifically to them.
Customisability comes in handy for content-creators as well. For instance, The Washington Post’s Bandito, a custom-built real-time content-testing tool, enables experimentation with how stories are presented on its website. It allows editors at the news organization to create several experiences for a story, with varying headlines, blurbs, and thumbnail photos. Once the stories are live, it automatically identifies the best-performing version, displaying it more frequently to consumers, while making appropriate improvements to the rest.
The emergence of live video platforms such as Facebook, Periscope, Instagram, and the like have also proved to be a boon for news reporting, opening up a range of high-traffic avenues for delivering information to consumers. On the other hand, innovative graphical representation, like the one used by The Weather Channel to highlight the impact of the storm surge caused by Hurricane Florence on the Carolina coast, has also helped sensitise audiences by giving them a near-realistic insight into the situation.
The recent spurt in the number of mediums available to broadcast news also sheds light on the need for collaborations and the incredible opportunities they present. Several forms of information delivery besides the traditional article format, such as videos, slideshows, podcasts, map mashups, VR-modules, and the like, now exist, which completely redefine the experience of the end user, providing a more interactive experience. Furthermore, cloud-based voice services such as Amazon Alexa and Siri are able to read out news to the consumer, running entirely on voice commands, thereby providing the added advantage of multitasking, eliminating language barriers, and more.
This era of aggressive digital evolution has made data one of the most valuable commodities in existence today, leading to a renewed focus on collecting, processing, and using information to curate targeted content specific to each and every consumer. As a result, the ability to strike a careful balance between transparency, privacy, and security, while utilising the immense potential of data and technology, assisted by intelligent innovation, is what will set apart a news organisation in this brilliant new age of possibilities.