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Tech Talks

Eleven Pointers for the 21st Century Journalist

Donald Trump’s diatribes with the media have made terms such as fake news and post-truth household. But the changes in journalism and the mass media have started much earlier and are more far-reaching.

Digital technology is subversive to traditional journalism as it renders past work routines, distribution platforms and business models out-of-date. Prof. Clement So of the School of Journalism and Communication can identify 11 media trends that have evolved or are evolving.

First, the era of single media distribution platform has ended and multiple platforms have become the norm. Second, ‘mobile first’ is the slogan for almost all media operators. Third, the notion of ‘Content is King’ is beginning to make way for ‘Audience/platform is King’. Fourth, online and offline convergence is the way to go. These are paradigm shifts in the journalistic ecology.

How should journalists cope in this new ecology then? Fifth, journalists of the 21st century have to be equipped with multiple skills. Sixth, there is a change of work routine that reshuffles the traditional division of labour and emphasizes cooperation and synergy among different departments. Seventh, ‘instant news’ makes every minute a deadline for the journalist. Eighth, the multiple ways of storytelling such as using ‘factoid’ (a trivial news item or a false statement presented as a fact), big data, Virtual Reality techniques, etc., can give one an edge in competition.

How would all these affect the media owners? Ninth, as digital media recognize no national boundaries, the media owners would try to develop international markets for their businesses. Tenth, partnerships within the profession and across different businesses will make it a busy time for mergers and acquisitions. Lastly, the change of business model is imperative especially regarding how to charge online and the profit ratio of subscription vs advertising.

Practising or aspiring journalists have to adopt the new formats, platforms and practices while adapting to the ‘brave new world’ environment. After the darkness there will be a new dawn. For journalists to succeed in this technologically driven world, they have to strive for creativity and uniqueness. The former gives them the edge while the latter enables them not to be easily copied and outdone by others.


This article was originally published in No. 533, Newsletter in Mar 2019.

journalist news digital technology Clement So professors School of Journalism and Communication