How Technology is Redefining Journalism Roles

journalism students

As recently as 10 years ago the typical newsroom consisted of several people each performing a single role. In television, for example, a reporter would conduct interviews with the help of a photographer, then write the story for air while the photographer edited the video, and the story details would be passed along to a news writer or Web editor responsible for posting it online. When short staffed, one might expect some crossover between roles, but for the most part everyone stuck to their assigned duties.


That structure is slowly becoming extinct, and it’s for the best. To compete in the era in which citizen journalists are breaking stories before a reporter even arrives at the scene, today’s news organizations are becoming leaner and are placing a premium on versatility. A person who could serve as both reporter and photographer was once known as a “one-man band.” Newsrooms have replaced the term with “multimedia journalist” or MMJ – someone who can, at a minimum, report, shoot and edit video, write for the Web, and go live from a scene, all while keeping an audience informed via social media.


“The very nature of fast paced, on-demand news has caused a shift in amount of time available to gather and present news events,” said Teresa Taylor Moore, an Associate Professor and the Program Chair of Ashford University’s Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communication. “The ability to use basic editing software, podcast, and streaming video is vitally important to future journalists.”


The titanic shift toward digital storytelling has prompted many journalists to train themselves on new tools in order to acquire skills needed to compete in modern newsrooms. Universities like Ashford are also evolving with the times, Moore said, and redesigning courses so students are exposed to a broader range of software and techniques relevant to modern news gathering.


“We focus on the necessary skills that can be transferred to a variety of platforms,” she said. “For example, students can essentially tell the same story as a photojournalist by taking a picture with their cell phone as they would a high-end camera. It is the technique of framing and connecting the photo to the news story that we aim to teach.”


While technology does allow news organizations to combine traditional roles, Moore doesn’t foresee a time when it will replace journalists. Despite the emergence of data storytelling, in which a program can transform pieces of information into an online article, Moore said people skills and relationship building remain two irreplaceable functions of journalism.


“News media invest a great deal of time and finances into branding journalists who can establish a relationship with the audience so that a sense of loyalty and trust is established. Nothing can replace the journalist in a community who can empathize with the public about issues in their community.”


Written by Jason R. Latham, Content Manager for Bridgepoint Education.

To learn more about the changing landscape of journalism, explore possible careers in journalism, or embark on  the next step with an online journalism degree




Retrieved from Morozov, E. (2012) “A Robot Stole My Pulitzer.” Slate.


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