Career in Online Journalism : 8 Essential Skills You Need To Acquire

As media is moving from traditional to digital, so is the reporting of it, or journalism. Traditionally, being a journalist meant you were writing for either a physical newspaper or magazine. There were a limited amount of these publications since it was pretty expensive to start and maintain one.

In today’s world there is no such restriction, one can set up a publication with a few quick clicks. They don’t even need to have a physical workspace, at the end of the day, what are blogs? They are certainly a form of online journalism. Even the conventional publications have moved onto digital platforms since they are cost effective and provide invaluable insight on what kind of content is being consumed by their subscribers.

Traditional journalism was restricted in many way, you would have to present your findings in words and sometimes photos. Online journalism on the other hand is the real-time publishing of multimedia (pictures, videos, blogs, graphics, animations) which is available 24/7. Once it’s gone up, it is accessible indefinitely to anyone who has the particular link or access to the site. Additionally, online journalism is more fast, adaptive and time sensitive. Being the first person to write about a hot topic is as integral as writing an excellent piece about something that’s been said a hundred times.

To keep up with the pace, here are 8 essential skills you will need:

  1. Social Media: the average individual does not have much of an attention span, so unless they are already invested in you and follow your work it is rare that they would allocate the time to read a 1000 word articles written by you. Odds are they’ll find someone short and attention grabbing on your social channels which will then route them to your more in-depth work. Stay well integrated within your social network and try and engage your audience in relevance to your area of expertise or trending topics.
  2. Online Administration: your job profile is online, one must be completely on top of keeping your Twitter, LinkedIn, and online portfolio completely updated. Also, make sure that it’s clear how someone were to get in touch with you professionally on all channels. Answering messages and queries is also important since you are handling your own HR to a certain extent.
  3. Network: in a world where anything can happen you will have to know (if it’s of relevance to your field) exactly when it does. Even being a day or two behind on trend or topic will make you seem out of tune with your digital environment and simply uninformed. Gone are the days where information was only absorbed through schooling, today, we must learn everything, everyday. Make sure you have a solid network of mentors who you can rely on to stay informed.
  4. Adapt: you are no longer bound to a 9-5 schedule, today online journalist have to learn to create their own work hours and it really depends on the individual to drive themselves to succeed. Some forms of journalism like social media require a person to be online around the clock, while photojournalism requires you to travel to get THAT shot.
  5. Creating multimedia content: we are no longer bound to just text. You can create content in the form of video, audio, photos or graphics. This is also considered to be online journalism since you can put them out as vlogs, podcasts and infographics.
  6. Specialise: you must find a niche in which to specialize, whether it be fashion, food, travel, music, education or fitness. Since there is a whole plethora of content out there, and it is continuously being created, it would serve you best to become a reliable source of information in a certain sector.
  7. Tools: understanding and analysing which article got the most visits, responding to your readers, and constantly pushing your content over the course of time is essential to keeping your journalism career bright. Learn the basics of WordPress, HootSuite, Adobe Premiere, SEOMoz, Google Analytics etc.
  8. Monetize: learn to generate revenue on your page by selling ad space to the Google Display Ad Network, Youtube Partner Ads, and banner ads for other blogs/publications.

Most important of all, make sure you are sourcing your information from the correct places. Do not be the kind of online journalist that relies on #fakenews to gain popularity.

“The media has changed. We now give broadcast licenses to philosophies instead of people. People get confused and think there is no difference between news and entertainment. People who project themselves as journalists on television don’t know the first thing about journalism. They are just there stirring up a hockey game.” – Gary Ackerman