Posts Tagged ‘digital’


Social media: Journalism’s hub

Social media and the web have influenced how journalism is disseminated and presented. (Photo: Pixabay)

Social media and the web have influenced how journalism is disseminated and presented. (Photo: Pixabay)

New data from Britain released today has given a new indication as to the role social media has in the world of modern journalism.

The data, released as part of the Digital News Report by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford, showed that 73 percent of Americans consume news through the web, including social media, while 46 percent say they consume news exclusively through social (an increase of 6 percent compared to 2015).

The large amount of people consuming news online, and some through social exclusively, is evident in other countries as well. In the UK, 72 percent of people consume news online including on social platforms, while 35 percent say they consume news exclusively through social platforms (a decrease of 1 percent compared to 2015).

Facebook was the top social network for both countries, however there were some key differences in the top 5 social networks. Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn were in the top 5 in the US, while Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, WhatsApp and LinkedIn were in the top 5 in the UK.

The trends showcased in this report are indicative of where the industry is heading. Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are becoming hubs for content, most notably from Facebook’s Instant Articles initiative. Indeed, as journalism is embraced in a multi-platform age, Twitter has taken advantage of this with its recent decision on its 140 character policy, allowing for a focus on multimedia elements, making photos and videos center alongside text.

As journalism continues to be a commodity within the business of social media, expect more of these projects or ideas to originate moving forward. Whether or not most of these plans come to fruition is uncertain, but one thing is clear — social media has become not just an influence in how audiences consume news, but how it is presented, and is challenging news organizations to think carefully and creatively to ensure successful engagement strategies. It is a win for journalism in the sense of outreach, but also presents questions as to where journalism will go next.

Social media is re-innovating journalism with every new project and platform. The ultimate question is if journalism itself can keep up.

Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member and founder of SPJ Digital, is SPJ’s Community Coordinator and is a contributing blogger to Net Worked on social media’s role in the future of journalism. 

Outside of SPJ, Veeneman is Long Form Editor and a contributing writer for Kettle Magazine, an online publication in the UK. You can interact with Veeneman on Twitter here.

The views expressed in this blog post unless otherwise specified are that of the author’s, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ Digital community, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

Snapchat Discover Making Moves

Every reporter, every news company wants its products to be viewed by as many people as possible. Social media has made it easier for stories to be shared quicker and wider, and earlier this year Snapchat entered the news game with the Discover feature. Prior to Discover, Snapchat was a social media platform that couldn’t have been farther away from the news game — the purpose was the send funny pictures that lasted a maximum of 10 seconds.

CNN, Cosmopolitan, People, The Daily Mail, Vice, National Geographic, ESPN, Yahoo News, Food Network, Comedy Central and Warner Music were the original publishers to sign on. In the seven months since it was launched, iHeart Radio and Buzzfeed have been added, and Warner Music and Yahoo News have been removed. The simple addition and deletion of some publishers show that the app has gone through development and advancement, with the hopes of more success in the Discover feature. It has also been moved to the main story page, instead of hidden in a small button.

It is one thing for Snapchat to be showing interest in news and the desire to make the news feature more popular with its users, but outside publishers are also benefits from being in business with Snapchat. CNN, The Daily Mail and National Geographic have staff members that only work on Snapchat and Vox is looking to hire specific Snapchat staffers in order to get on the Discover feature.

Snapchat as a social media platform for news is unique because there is a specific audience that is being reached and that audience generally isn’t going to the app just for news. The publishers that are part of the Discover feature are tasked with creating content that will work on Snapchat, be of interest to young users and be visually appealing on a smartphone.

Snapchat’s advancement of the app and news organizations desire to be a part of its growth shows the trend of news heading going digital and the importance of social media. The news organizations that have decided to sign on have shown they are willing to worth with news trends and be ahead of the rest of the industry. Discover may not have reached the perfect formula for reaching the users it wants yet, but if more news organizations are willing to be a part of it, it success should only grow.

Taylor Barker, a member of the Ithaca College chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, is the student representative for SPJ Digital. Barker is also an editorial intern for The Miss Information. You can follow her on Twitter here.

The views expressed in this blog post are that of the author’s unless otherwise indicated, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ Digital executive, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

#SPJ4All: More than a hashtag

spjselfie

My selfie for #spj4all. (Photo by the author.)

A year ago this week, an email appeared in my inbox confirming my membership with the SPJ. I had just graduated from university, and I was trying to figure out the next steps. The journalism industry was changing, and I knew there was still more to do. But little did I know what would come since that email arrived, and how my thinking would change when I became a member.

Today, the SPJ is doing a social media campaign called #SPJ4All, a measure to promote diversity within our membership, not just within the United States, but internationally. As my SPJ colleague Robyn Davis Sekula notes over on the Membership blog, the SPJ wants to encourage diversity and acceptance, and no matter who you are and what your background is, “if you’re a journalist, you’re welcome here, and always will be.”

The SPJ has more than 100 international members, and has a vast membership network within the US.

Sekula got the idea from the recent legislation in Indiana, which some suggested could be discriminatory against gay and lesbian couples, and in a telephone interview with me, said she wanted to send the right message. SPJ is headquartered in Indianapolis.

“It was important for us to send the message very clearly, that we are open, affirming and welcoming of all journalists,” Sekula said. “I don’t want people to confuse the state with the organization.”

Sekula hopes the initiative will be the start of a conversation not just within the SPJ but in the wider industry. “We cover news better when we have a wider variety of perspective to bring to the events,” Sekula said, noting that people in the newsroom can learn from other colleagues about social media from those who have experience using its various platforms, and others can learn about approaching subjects that can be controversial from those with experience covering them.

The same is true when it comes to the future of the journalism industry. As it continues to change, and as more digital innovations come to support it, the core of its future starts with ideas. I believe in the ability to educate, and the ability for ideas to be at the core of education on the future of journalism, a view that has shaped my work for not just this blog, but elsewhere.

These ideas can come from anyone, no matter what race, gender, sexual orientation or nationality, and with as many ideas as possible from a variety of backgrounds, the industry will continue to thrive, especially in the digital age.

A diverse industry results in a better informed industry, and a better informed industry will serve those who work in it and strive to work in it well. We must champion it for the benefit of not just us as individuals, but for our industry colleagues near and far.

#SPJ4All reminds us of that, and Sekula is hopeful it can continue.

“I want this to be the start of something,” Sekula said. “How it will take shape, I’m not sure. I feel certain if nothing else it has engaged people in a positive way.”

Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member and founder of SPJ Digital, is a contributing blogger for Net Worked, and serves as Community Coordinator for SPJ. Veeneman also is Deputy Editor, Media Editor and a writer for Kettle Magazine, an online publication in the UK. Veeneman also blogs on social media for the web site ChicagoNowYou can interact with Veeneman on Twitter here.

The views expressed in this blog post are that of the author’s unless otherwise indicated, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ Digital executive, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

Dissecting the State of the News Media 2015

There is no denying the media landscape is shifting toward a mobile and digital focus, and on cue the Pew Research Center confirmed it. Last week Pew released the State of the News Media 2015, reaffirming the growth of mobile and digital journalism, while not reporting on the most promising data for legacy media. In the report’s 12th year, it has released some interesting information about digital audiences and advertising that journalism outlets should be paying attention to.

Out of the 50 websites Pew used for its report, 39 received the majority of their traffic from mobile devices opposed to desktop computers. This exemplifies the importance of news outlets marketing their product to users on mobile devices, whether it is through apps or social media — news organizations need to meet their audience where they are. The mobile traffic for these websites has been important for these news organizations, but the next step is turning these high numbers of mobile visitors into quality visitors who spend a significant amount of time on the website.

While mobile visitors are more prominent than desktop visitors, desktop visitors spend a significantly more time on the websites once they are there. Out of the same 50 websites, only 10 has mobile visitors spending more time on the websites than desktop visitors. This finding gives news organizations a tangible area in which they can research and improve in. Looking into where the activity difference stems from between mobile and desktop visitors is key in improving the quality of the visits. There may be room for mobile websites’ design to be improved to encourage visitors to spend more time on the websites or there may need to be content created that is more suitable for mobile audiences.

The growth of digital advertising is important because of the transition away from relying on revenue from print advertising. News organizations had previously relied heavily on print advertising to sustain their business model, but with the decrease in print sales the system is no longer sustainable. Pew reported that $50.7 billion was spent on digital advertising in 2014, which was a 18 an percent increase from 2013. This shows companies are further understanding the importance that digital traffic can play in generating revenue. The companies buying the ads are benefitting and the news organizations are benefitting from the increased revenue. Mobile has also been a focus of digital ad spending, increasing 78% from 2013 to $19 billion. Smartphones and tablets have become too prevalent for there not be specific focus shown to mobile sites. The high numbers of mobile visitors coincides with the ad spending.

These numbers exemplify that digital and mobile journalism is here to stay, and will most likely continue to expand in the coming years. The State of the News Media shows news organizations need to take the digital journalism realm seriously if they want to compete on a serious level. And beyond just taking the digital world seriously, the increasing mobile numbers show significant attention should be paid to this area in the coming years to benefit as much as possible from that audience.

Taylor Barker, a member of the Ithaca College chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, is the student representative for SPJ Digital. Barker is also an editorial intern for The Miss InformationYou can follow her on Twitter here.

The views expressed in this blog post are that of the author’s unless otherwise indicated, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ Digital executive, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

Tablet or Traditional? News Consumption

One afternoon in my second semester at the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, I grabbed a copy of the morning’s The New York Times, more on an impulse than as a conscious, consumer choice.

When you attend one of the top-ranked journalism schools in the country, reading and consuming news in the traditional sense (think thick, inky newspapers and ever-present CNN coverage) is standard – and addicting.

I was never a read-the-newspaper-every-day kind of person until I started rubbing elbows with other collegiate academics, most of whom keep a copy of the Times under their suit jackets, like an essential accessory.

Resorting to a classic case of peer pressure, I soon began plucking a Times from the shelf every day, skimming the headlines over morning coffee – you know, what ‘smart, news-engaged people’ do.

But then one morning, after having watched the documentary Page One: Inside the New York Times (2011) in my journalism class, I stared incredulously at my Times and thought, “Who have I become? A digital-age person caught in the mentality of a traditional news junkie, living in the past?”

It’s no secret: Print journalism is undergoing a massive revolution.

Some critics claim it’s dying. Either way, print journalism has suffered incredible losses in the past five years alone, thanks to a surge in online news consumption and mobile compatible content.

Page One took The New York Times as a case study in this traditional journalism dilemma – one of those elite print models that’s grappled with financial hardship and a rapidly evolving audience, all while the American technological age keeps plowing ahead.

I’ve been conditioned to think that a newspaper – real, heavy, ink-blotted paper – is the only respected or sophisticated method to consume daily news.

And yet, what was I getting out of this old model that my digital subscription to the Times couldn’t have provided as easily, or more conveniently?  Perceived intelligence or blind optimism?

I thought, if I only consume news through traditional mediums, and ignore digital media, I’m championing a sputtering art form.  Like supporting the Cleveland Browns, instead of finding another, more promising team to root for (my dad’s an ever-hopeful Browns fan, but I gave up on them years ago).

It’s time to face the facts: Newspapers aren’t the sole providers of news, anymore.

And I’m choosing to live in the future, and support the next wave of journalism distribution, with my smartphone, my laptop, and my thumbs.

For those who think (or desperately choose to believe) that the printed newspaper will ever dominate as the primary method of news consumption in the future? Join the digital wave, while you still can.

Bethany N. Bella is studying at Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. Connect with her on Twitter @bethanynbella or browse her work at bethanybella.com.

The views expressed in this blog post are that of the author’s, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ Digital executive, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

The future of women studying journalism

The School of Journalism at the University of Missouri. Indiana University's main campus in Bloomington, considered to be one of the most prestigious journalism schools in the US. Research shows an increase of women studying journalism compared to men. Photo - mojourcomm / Wikimedia Commons (CC)

The School of Journalism at the University of Missouri. Research shows an increase of women studying journalism compared to men.
Photo – mojourcomm / Wikimedia Commons (CC)

One of the items in modern journalism education that has been examined as of late is the rise of women studying journalism, and that despite more women studying the subject than their male counterparts, more of the jobs are going to men.

A recent blog post detailed research from Oxford University in the UK which indicated more women studied journalism compared to men in multiple countries, including the United States, yet most of the jobs were going to men.

More research had been done particularly on the angle of education in the US, and recent research from the University of Georgia, known as the Annual Survey of Journalism and Mass Communication Enrollment, indicated that approximately two-thirds of the student body pursuing undergraduate or graduate degrees in the field were women.

Yet with the concerns still out there on employment ratios and gender gaps, what does the future hold for women studying journalism, and what would the educational research indicate when transitioning to employment?

In an earlier blog post, Whitney Ashton, a senior at Pepperdine University, based outside Los Angeles, said there had been some changes in the digital age.

“It’s easy to look through the gendered lens that is sometimes presented on TV or get discouraged by the ratio of male to female bylines in newspapers, but online journalism and social media are new territory,” Ashton said. “The digital age has disrupted traditional journalism in many ways, and I think it also has the potential to change gender attitudes for women looking to break into the industry.”

Indiana University's flagship campus in Bloomington, considered to be one of the most prestigious journalism programs in the US. (Photo: McAnt/Wikimedia Commons under CC license)

Indiana University’s flagship campus in Bloomington, considered to be home to one of the most prestigious journalism programs in the US. (Photo: McAnt/Wikimedia Commons under CC license)

At Indiana University‘s flagship campus in Bloomington, senior journalism student Abby Llorico says the research from UGA is not surprising, and that you could walk down most hallways at Ernie Pyle Hall and not spot a single male student.

Llorico, reached by email, says something is missing.

“My honors program started with a few guys in it, but now it’s dwindled down to only 8 girls,” Llorico said. “It’s unfortunate in a learning environment because there’s definitely a perspective we’re missing.”

For the industry, Llorico says, many people associate the digital industry with social media, and perceptions are different.

“The digital world is seen by many people as a “social media” term, and many people think of social media as more of a ‘girl-thing,'” Llorico said. “I have never heard of a guy wanting to make a career out of social media. And while of course they do use the platform, for young people I would say that it’s more common for girls to keep up with their feeds and timelines than guys.”

Yet, on the subject of equality, Llorico says, gender is the easiest hurdle.

“I really think that’s the easiest hurdle we have to face in society, and I am a woman,” Llorico said. “We’ve cleared a lot of hurdles when it comes to how people think and now it’s just about making policy that catches up. As far as religion, race, nationality, and the like, I think that journalism is one sphere in which the generally more liberal mindset would help make equality more possible than in other fields.”

Llorico, who wants to be a TV news anchor when she finishes her studies, says it is imperative to understand the world and its various perspectives.

“There’s nothing more crucial in this world than understanding it,” Llorico said. “We owe it to one another to hear each other out and listen to voices, stories, and problems that are different than ours.”

For the moment, however, concerns about a gender gap are vast and appear in many schools in the US. In an interview with the USA Today College publication, Victoria Messina, a journalism major at the University of Florida, it may lead to concerns of employment down the road.

“If I put in the same amount of effort, and went to a really great journalism school, and did all of the same work as him and he got the job or the better story than me, then that would suck.”

Alex Veeneman is a Chicago based SPJ member who is chairman of SPJ Digital and the community coordinator for SPJ. Veeneman serves as Deputy Editor, Media Editor and contributing writer to Kettle Magazine, an online publication based in the UK. You can interact with Veeneman on Twitter here.

Embrace the Age of Social Media

Social media–or what I like to call a journalist’s savior.

When I decided junior year of high school to become an environmental journalist, I assumed I’d just be writing stories for tree huggers; I never thought one day I would need to be marketing myself on the Internet, too, in order to survive this job.

Because of Tumblr blogs and Facebook status updates, tweets on Twitter and snaps on Snapchat, everyone in the digital age is now considered a storyteller–a title once earned only by those trained as professional journalists.

But now the lines have blurred:  Who can tell the news?  What is a credible news source?  Who can we trust for information?

Online journalism: it’s a relatively new term coined for the surge in digital readership, although I’d argue it’s both the present and the future of journalism as we know it.

And if you’re a journalist not active–or just a silent avatar–on Twitter and Facebook, you’re already irrelevant, lost in the fathoms of cyberspace and letting someone else tell your story.

I’m surprised that at this stage in the digital revolution there are still journalists who do not promote their own work–their livelihood–to readers online.

When I read an article from National Geographic or The New York Times, I expect to see who has written the article and find them on social media.

Maybe it’s a compulsive response as a nosy American, but I relish the opportunity to connect with the man or woman who has produced what I believe is a quality piece of news.

I want to know where they live, what they’re interested in, and what else they’ve written.

And just like me, your readers want to know the same thing about you as a journalist.

Accept the transparency of online journalism and embrace the curiosity of your readers.

Give them something to look at on social media. Show them you’re engaged in the digital age. Prove to them that you’re relevant, that you’re ‘tuned in’ to the information their thumbs so desperately crave. Give them a reason to trust in you as a credible news source.

And above all, give them a reason to return to you for future information.

Staying engaged with the current trends of American consumers–this is how you will survive and thrive as a journalist in the 21st century.

Bethany N. Bella is a multimedia journalist studying at Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. Connect with her on Twitter @bnbjourno or browse her work at bethanybella.com.

The views expressed in this blog post are that of the author’s, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ Digital executive, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

How can the Engaging News Project help journalism?

In this Net Worked guest post, Katie Steiner, an SPJ Digital member in Austin, Texas, looks at the role of the Engaging News Project and its work for journalism in the digital age.

The Engaging News Project at the University of Texas at Austin is working to help newsrooms in the new age of journalism. (Photo courtesy of Katie Steiner)

The Engaging News Project at the University of Texas at Austin is working to help newsrooms in the new age of journalism.
(Photo courtesy of Katie Steiner)

To say this is an interesting time in the news industry is an understatement. Incivility runs rampant in comment sections, leading a few newsrooms to remove comments all together. Some outlets are so driven by page views that they’ve traded in their democratic goals in favor of Kim Kardashian stories and puppy photo galleries. And overall, newsrooms are being asked to do more with fewer resources than ever before.

That is why the Engaging News Project launched. We’re a research group dedicated to helping newsrooms meet their business and journalistic goals. To do this, we test web-based strategies for informing audiences, promoting substantive discourse, and helping citizens to understand diverse views. At the same time, we analyze business outcomes, such as clicks and time on page.

One area of online engagement we have explored is online polls and quizzes. Polls are a popular way for news sites to engage with their visitors, but they have downsides. Specifically, some site visitors may believe that online poll results are accurate reflections of public opinion when, in fact, they are not. Further, the widespread use of entertainment-oriented polls may miss valuable opportunities to both entertain and educate.

Our research found that quizzes can be a positive alternative to polls, as they actually test readers’ knowledge while also keeping them on the page. To help make it simple for newsrooms to make quizzes for their sites, we have created a free online quiz tool. We invite you try out the tool by visiting this page of our website.

A hot topic in the news industry right now is comment sections, and what newsrooms should do with them. One possible solution we tested was to have journalists interact with commenters. Through our research, we found that civility improved when a reporter was present in the comment section.

When looking at comment sections, we noticed that many newsrooms use a “Like” button to allow readers to engage with the comments. But what do people do when they see a worthwhile comment that express a point of view with which they disagree? To remedy this, we created a “Respect” button. We found that people were more likely to click on comments expressing different political views when they had a “Respect” button to use, compare to when there was just a “Like.”

We’re fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with some fantastic journalists and news organizations for these projects – none of our research would be possible without their help. By partnering with newsrooms to test our strategies, we are able to get a better understanding of what works (and what doesn’t).

We’re always looking for new newsroom partnerships. At the very least, we would love to hear what you think we should be testing, or what you wish you could improve about your digital presence. We encourage you to contact us via our website.

Katie Steiner, an SPJ Digital member, is the Communication Associate for the Engaging News Project, based at the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life at the University of Texas at Austin. You can interact with the Project on Twitter here.

The Kansan and student journalism in the digital age

The Chi Omega Fountain at the University of Kansas. Its student newspaper, the University Daily Kansan, has embraced a digital first model.  (Photo: InaMaka/Wikimedia Commons under CC)

The Chi Omega Fountain at the University of Kansas. Its student newspaper, the University Daily Kansan, has embraced a digital first model.
(Photo: InaMaka/Wikimedia Commons under CC)

In this Net Worked guest post, Emma LeGault and Brian Hillix of the University Daily Kansan student newspaper at the University of Kansas reflect on their decision to go digital first and what student media will be in the digital age.

On Feb. 4, the University Daily Kansan announced it will print two days per week instead of four, beginning in fall 2015. A desire to be digital-first and capitalize on an industry movement was at the heart of the decision.

Once we announced the decision, the general response was positive. While many were sad to see the change, they understood why it was necessary.

The response from former Kansan alumni, however, was not as encouraging. Some said they don’t think the switch to digital news will adequately prepare students for future jobs in journalism, saying that working under pressure on deadlines nights was invaluable. Others said the flexibility of being digital will make us complacent with stories.

More than anything, it seems they are rooted in the tradition of the print product. The Kansan has been the student voice for 110 years, and for as long as they can remember, we’ve printed the paper at least four times per week. They hold fond memories of working for — and reading — The Kansan this way.

We thought former students — many who are professional journalists — would understand the decision, because they were a part of the continually changing culture of digital journalism not so long ago.

That being said, a student media organization should never do something just because it has been done that way in the past. Journalists must continue to ask questions and adapt when necessary. If not, we become disconnected to our audience and what it needs from us. Today’s student journalists should always be thinking ahead to the future and how to best connect with their audience. They shouldn’t fear change, but welcome it.

From an advertising perspective, The Kansan’s decision makes sense. Clients want their ads to appear in editions that preview and recap the weekend, and our Monday and Thursday editions are fuller. With fewer clients wanting to advertise mid-week, turning a profit for those papers has become increasingly difficult. By not printing and distributing papers two days a week, we will have more money for new and improved technology such as cameras, servers and computers. We imagine newspapers across the country experience this, too.

At The Kansan, we take pride in preparing our student workers for careers in journalism and business. Our journalists are slowly understanding that their job goes beyond doing a little research, completing a couple interviews and writing a 500-word story. With the focus on digital content, they will learn to cover breaking news, update stories, post on social media and take pictures and video — skills that employers are looking for in a job candidate.

With a focus on digital content, we can tell a better story. Journalists can now incorporate photos, galleries, videos, Vines, social media posts, polls and other digital elements in a story. Articles with only words are becoming a thing of the past, and we’re learning that, too.

Timeliness will become a bigger priority. Instead of a midnight deadline for the print product, the deadline is right now. In the past, our readers might not have seen certain content until it was in print the next morning. Now, the news can reach our audience instantly. By posting articles immediately, reporters will be forced to be more accurate. Without a three-stage editing process, the importance of fact-checking is more critical than ever.

We know that this is a major change. Many of our students pick up the paper on a daily basis, whether it is to glance at the headlines, complete the puzzles, look at the free-for-alls or read a story or two. Whether they pick up a paper every day or not, there’s a sense of comfort knowing that The Kansan is there.

Some may be worried that we’re declining, fading or even dying. We’re not going anywhere. Instead, we’re changing, adapting and evolving.

The Kansan will still cover news that affects KU students — we will still be the student voice. The information will just be communicated in a different way, one that will better connect us to our readers.

We are behind this 100 percent. All we ask is that our readers and supporters join us, and watch what happens next. The Kansan will not disappoint.

Emma LeGault is the Special Projects Editor of The University Daily Kansan, the student newspaper of the University of Kansas. Brian Hillix is the Editor-in-Chief of the Kansan. You can interact with LeGault and Hillix on Twitter.

What is the future for women in digital journalism?

Whitney Ashton of Pepperdine University says digital journalism can change the gender gap in the industry. (Photo courtesy of her Twitter profile)

Whitney Ashton of Pepperdine University says digital journalism can change the gender gap in the industry.
(Photo courtesy of her Twitter profile)

Recent research from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at Oxford University in the UK indicated that there were more women studying journalism compared to men in multiple countries, including the United States. Yet, despite that, a majority of the jobs in journalism still go to men.

Yet, in spite of all of that, the digital advances in journalism, according to research from Suzanne Franks, a former BBC producer, now professor at City University in London, has allowed a new perspective, from remote editing and brands on social media to covering beats and contributing from technology. There were problems however when going into existing structures, Franks noted.

But what does this mean for women and journalism, especially female students looking to go into an industry that is increasingly becoming digital first?

Whitney Ashton, a senior at Pepperdine University, based outside of Los Angeles, whose student body is 59 percent female and 41 percent male, said there is a shift ongoing.

“Currently, there are more women studying journalism at Pepperdine than men,” Ashton said when reached by email. “However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that women (in general) are working in the top jobs in their industry. We’ve made great strides in regard to having the same opportunities as men and having the same influence, but I still believe there is a gender gap. We’re just not there yet.”

Indeed, Ashton says, the new digital outlook in the industry has created ways of seeing media and industry solutions, including issues of gender.

“It’s easy to look through the gendered lens that is sometimes presented on TV or get discouraged by the ratio of male to female bylines in newspapers, but online journalism and social media are new territory,” Ashton said. “The digital age has disrupted traditional journalism in many ways, and I think it also has the potential to change gender attitudes for women looking to break into the industry.”

Further, Ashton says, these changes have allowed more people to have a voice.

“Traditional journalism was a traditionally white and male-dominated field,” Ashton said. “The digital age brought about by the Internet disrupted traditional media. The rise of blogging and new media companies has allowed those who were previously marginalized (i.e., women, minorities, etc.) by traditional journalism to have a voice and tell the untold stories. The new model allows for a full range of human perspectives to be discussed and displayed.”

Ashton, who hopes to go into online journalism once she graduates, is confident the gender gap can be closed in spite of the statistics. However, a lot of work must be done.

“It will take time and a concerted effort from both parties,” Ashton said.

Alex Veeneman is a Chicago based SPJ member who is chairman of SPJ Digital and the community coordinator for SPJ. Veeneman serves as Deputy Editor, Media Editor and contributing writer to Kettle Magazine, an online publication based in the UK. You can interact with Veeneman on Twitter here.

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