An investigation into digital media and the future of the Journalism industry
By Katherine Witts
The journalism industry of today is an ever-changing field, from the rise in multi-media journalists to TikTok being a key source of news for young audiences (Eddy, 2022). With the digital age requiring journalists, and creatives more broadly, to become experts in an array of mediums, it poses the question if young journalists are expected to go above and beyond in order to get into the industry.
“Call me Hannah Montanna”
Rhiannon Farr, an English Literature major by day and junior journalist by night discussed how the journalism industry, specifically that of arts and culture journalism, was one she didn’t intend on studying but rather she happened to land some of the most exciting opportunities all within the space of a couple of months! How did she do this you might ask? Farr comments on this as a whirlwind experience and how she never anticipated how far she would come.
Digital Media has an array of benefits for young journalists, one of the main benefits being unlimited access to new contacts. Through the use of platforms such as Twitter and TikTok, Rhiannon Farr, now junior writer for Buzz Magazine, states how she was able to reach new audiences and other journalists in Cardiff stating:
“My TikTok was a way for me to show how much I love Cardiff and connect with creatives across the city, who have now helped me gain access in new areas of my career.”
Broadcast journalist and photojournalist, Suzanne Chandler, also comments on this idea of connectivity in the digital age of journalism. She states how in order to work in the industry in the early 1980s, there were limited opportunities by only having the competitive “BIG 3” (Laliashvili, 2018) to work with. However, with the digital age, Laliashvili states how there are now “numerous opportunities” for journalists due to the array of channels offered online.
When discussing connectivity, it’s important to discuss how a journalist’s social media presence can increase their chances of creating a larger network. For instance, Rhiannon acknowledges that her TikTok with 900+ followers helped her engage with journalists across the city by simply putting their job title and their location in their bios. By doing so, multimedia journalists are utilising social media platforms to create their individual brands that are separate from the cooperation they work for (Humayum & Ferrucci, 2022) and find fellow creatives that match their brand image.
If we look at Rhianoon’s social media platforms, we can see how this contributes to not only her career but the journalism industry as a whole. Omemarian suggests how the use of multimedia within journalism has “broken the barriers of storytelling” (Omemarian, 2018), which is evident in Farr’s branding through the use of video editing skills, audio narration, and videography. As a result of this Farr is offering audiences a new way to consume journalism. This helps progress the industry as its offers younger audiences the chance to engage with storytelling.
“Everything is very fast-paced, I will have no plans for the week and then find out Monday morning I’m interviewing Dan Howell the next day.”
Moving on from the benefits of multimedia journalism, we can see how there are a few downsides to this current trend of journalism. Firstly, is how demanding the job is in terms of time. From being able to source and write breaking stories (Indeed, 2021) to refining multiple skills in order to stay relevant (Wrobleski, 2019). A 2019 study conducted by the ‘Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism’ found that 61% of media employers were concerned about their employee’s well-being and burnout from the high demands of the industry, especially on young journalists (Walker, 2019). Rhiannon states how due to her current freelance role with multiple media companies she has little to no structure, she states:
“My friends constantly message and say how I’m never free to meet up with them, but the nature of just starting in the industry means I feel like I have to say yes to everything.”
As a result of the demanding work, many academics have researched into the main hardships young journalists faced (Reinardy, 2011; MacDonald, et al, 2016). We can see from the diagram below that during the pandemic. The workload young journalists face was in the top three most difficult aspects:
“I tweeted to thank them [her interviewees] for their time and one of them re-tweeted and threw shade at me. Buzz [magazine] told me to just ignore the comment.”
One of the many downsides to social media as a whole is how users often engage negatively online towards individuals, which is even more prevalent with journalists. Rhiannon mentions how previous interviewees have tweeted unkind comments toward her for no apparent reason.
If we consider how social media platforms help journalists engage audiences and give audiences the chance to ‘speak back’ to media outlets (Shirky, 2009), as a result of this not all the comments will be in support of them. In 2021 UNESCO found that 75% of female journalists experience online harassment from threats to sexist comments (Kersley, 2022). The negative engagement journalists face on social media has gone to the full extent of journalists quitting their jobs and social media as a whole, take for instance Oxford Mail’s young reporter Sophie Perry.
If we put aside the negative side of journalism new journalists face, we can see how up-and-coming journalists, like Rhiannon, are paving a new way for storytelling to reach new audiences on a global scale. I look forward to seeing Rhiannon’s career progress and will continue to be a big fan of her day in the life TikToks.
Rhiannon’s Links: LinkTree
Orignal Feature Upload: https://katherinewitts.wordpress.com/2023/01/15/in-conversation-with-rhiannon-farr/
Chron.com. (2011). Disadvantages of Using Multimedia in Professional Communication. [online] Available at: https://smallbusiness.chron.com/disadvantages-using-multimedia-professional-communication-18491.html.
Eddy, K. (2022). The changing news habits and attitudes of younger audiences. [online] Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. Available at: https://reutersinstitute.politics.ox.ac.uk/digital-news-report/2022/young-audiences-news-media.
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