New Global Study heralds 'New Normal for News' as Digital Media Hits Newsrooms and Editorial Offices

NEW DELHI: The full digital tool-set is now in use in newsrooms and editorial offices around the world - with far-reaching implications for the public relations industry, the latest Oriella Digital Journalism Study has found.

The journalism study was done by Oriella and its partners cross the world including Candour Communications, which did the survey for India. A ‘digital first‘ policy, breaking news online as it happens, is in place at over a third of the media titles surveyed with use of mobile apps, in-house produced video, and social media as a news source all on the rise.

The Oriella Digital Journalism Study based on a survey of almost 550 journalists from 15 countries including India and spanning Europe, Asia-Pacific and the Americas, tracks how digital technology is impacting how news is gathered and published around the world.

This year‘s study - the sixth - provides evidence of wholesale changes in how publications gather and communicate stories. This year‘s study further found a quarter of the journalists surveyed often prepare multiple versions of the same story as it develops, while a fifth said that ‘citizen journalism‘ now carries as much credibility in their organisation, as mainstream reporting.

Digital media is also shaping publications‘ revenue models. The proportion of respondents saying their outlet has a mobile app has nearly doubled over the past two years to 40 per cent. In addition, use of premium apps to monetise content has increased by a third since 2012.

PR Network director of the Oriella Robin Grainger said, "Our study suggests 2013 is a watershed year for the world‘s media. The growing interest in ‘digital first‘ reporting, video, real-time news, mobile content and citizen journalism all exemplify what we‘re calling the ‘New Normal for News.‘"

"If these trends accelerate, there are some potentially game-changing ramifications for media and communicators alike. First, touch-screen interfaces will open up new possibilities for story-telling. One example could be interactive graphics (or digi-graphics) which blend high design and big data to enable readers to navigate their own path through stories," Grainger added.

"Second, we may see a polarisation of journalistic output. At one end, short, tweet-like news updates will provide near real-time coverage of events in print and on video, optimised for small screens. At the other end, we may see much longer-form feature and investigative pieces. ‘Shorter but quicker‘ journalism could also afford media brands greater prominence - and consequently greater traffic - in search rankings, news readers and ‘social news aggregator‘ apps such as Flipboard and Pulse News," he further stated.

Social media in India

"The survey in India threw up interesting trends that have emerged in the Indian media. Digitisation of news and the availability of social media platforms have drastically reduced dependence on conventional news gathering sources. With the increasing use of smart phones in India, access to real time news is only a click away", said Candour Communications executive director Sanjay Bose.

The study finds that journalists are using social media for news gathering, but continue to place an emphasis on trusted sources and pre-existing relationships. For example, 51 per cent of journalists said they source news stories from microblogs such as Twitter and Weibo, but only when the source behind them is already known to them. When the source is unknown, their use by journalists halved to 25 per cent. By contrast, 59 per cent of respondents said they sourced their news from ‘conversations with industry insiders‘.

The sources most trusted by journalists were academics and other experts, who were trusted by 70 per cent of journalists; technical experts in companies (trusted by 63 per cent) and analysts (trusted by 49 per cent). Company CEOs were trusted by only 41 per cent and actually distrusted by one journalist in eight. The least trusted individuals were politicians, PR officers, heads of marketing and community managers - all of whom were distrusted than trusted by journalists. 

Journalists‘ attitude to their job

Despite all the changes occurring within newsrooms, the study found journalists remain upbeat about their jobs. Thirty four percent said they believed digital media had improved the quality of journalism over the past two years. However, the digital model is creating headaches for many of them - almost a third (32 per cent) agreed that they are finding it harder to keep abreast of events on social media.

Grainger added, "For all the technological change, the fundamental role of journalism remains the same - to gather evidence from sources, build narratives and then convey them. What has changed, however, are the tools at their disposal. The brands that achieve cut-through in the ‘New Normal for News‘ will be those keep abreast of these changes. They will be the ones that integrate their story-telling - using conventional text, video, graphics and interactive content - as well as harnessing the social media profiles of their own people and those of key influencers around them."

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