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What does a Digital Journalist do?

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  • Written By: Sheri Cyprus
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 10 November 2016
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A digital journalist is responsible for producing Internet news stories and/or blogs. News blogs are more informal and personally written articles than journalistic stories. In addition to writing original web content for computer, or new media, audiences, a digital journalist usually supplies videos or still photographs.

Traditional print journalism involves only newspaper or magazine stories and still photos. Internet journalism includes multimedia creations, such as audio and video clips, along with website text. A digital journalist uses the equipment needed to produce audio, video, and text on an Internet newspaper's website.

Digital journalists often use the Internet as a research tool for their news stories. They must check and verify facts as well as conduct interviews either by email, on the telephone, or face-to-face. A freelance digital journalist may submit all of his or her stories to an editor by email from a remote location rather than use a newspaper office or television newsroom as a base.

Getting story ideas and producing them to finished web copy is a main duty of digital journalists. They also may be assigned journalistic feature pieces for publication in an online newspaper. Along with writing the articles, digital journalists often must also write eye-catching headlines for their stories. While the headlines and stories may be similar to those used in print publications such as newspapers and magazines, digital journalism jobs require a different format and style.

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For instance, writing for the web must be more concise than communication meant for print publications; the eye must work harder to read text on a screen. Digital journalism must be written in more compact, easy to read paragraphs. Subheads, or sub-headlines, are used more frequently in digital media journalism than the print medium. Digital journalists must carefully edit their articles for the maximum readability of the web audience.

A digital journalist produces either news stories or blogs or both. If the online news publication is based on geographic area, the journalist looks for story ideas relevant to that location. In blogs, the journalist may speak from personal experience or offer his or her opinion on news topics. In journalistic news stories, digital journalists write more objectively and report facts rather than state opinions or relate personal experiences.

One duty common to many digital journalist jobs is training others. For example, experienced digital journalists may train journalism students by assigning them stories and editing their finished work. In such cases, a digital journalists may manage a group of student writers remotely.

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OmarXCS
Post 5

One way to get started with a digital journalism career is to start a blog! Today it's very easy to get started using blogging platforms like WordPress and as orangey03 mentioned, you could start building an "online portfolio" this way. There's no degree that will make anyone a good storyteller, so a blog where you write about things you like, or a topic in which you are particularly knowledgeable can help you build an audience.

As far as specific "New Media" or "Digital Journalism" degrees go, they tend to be more multidisciplinary than simply teaching students "how to blog". These degrees, depending on school and curriculum, could cover things like web design, photo and video editing, multimedia production, etc. They could also be similar to more "traditional" journalism degrees and cover areas like writing, English, history of journalism, ethics and more.

cloudel
Post 4

A catchy headline can generate lots of traffic to an article, regardless of the quality of its content. This is because the headline will show up in search engines, and people will click on anything that seems like it would be interesting, funny, or dramatic.

I have written a few online features, and I am always careful about my headline. I want it to be something that would make me want to read the article if I saw it on a search engine, but I also want it to accurately reflect the content of the article.

It may be just a personal preference, but I don't want my readers to go away disappointed. I would hate for them to start reading the article because they were drawn in by its headline, discover that the content wasn't even related to the headline, and leave without reading the entire thing.

kylee07drg
Post 3

I have noticed that online journalism seems to be somewhat lacking in embellishments. Paragraphs are two or three sentences long, and the information is delivered quickly. The authors don't seem to put much effort into leading up to their points.

This is great for people who just want the facts as quickly as possible, but for people like me, it is disappointing. I am accustomed to reading magazines and newspapers, where the writers have more liberty to expand on their topics.

When I need news right away, I go online. However, if I want to read an opinion article or a special feature, I will read it in print.

orangey03
Post 2

@OeKc05 - I have always thought it would be fun to be a digital journalist. I took lots of writing classes in college, and though it wasn't my major, I feel I am adequately trained in that field.

However, the digital journalism market is flooded with people far more qualified than I am. So far, I haven't been able to land a job.

Most websites are seeking people who either have a degree in journalism or who have had writing experience with other websites. I have neither, though I have written several articles for the local paper, but this didn't seem to matter to them.

Maybe you could start out small and write content for a few web pages. That would give you something to submit as a writing example, and it would count as online writing experience.

OeKc05
Post 1

Digital journalism sounds like the ideal field for me. I have to stay at home and take care of my children while my husband works, but they are old enough to entertain themselves most of the time. I have been seeking a job I could do without having to leave home.

Does anyone know how hard it is to break into the field? Are the requirements pretty strict, or can anyone who can write well get in the door? I have read tons of online news stories and blogs, so I am familiar with the format.

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