Why is traditional journalism dying? The changes the Publishing industry needs to make
Let’s start with the stats. Data from over 2 billion news and media websites, revealed that 55% of people spend less than 15 seconds on the page that they click on.
In the digital age, where we’re used to getting information in fewer than 140 characters, this trend is here to stay.
The journalists whose articles are intended for more than few seconds of consumption have two choices:
- Come to terms with the fact that majority of the people who visit the page won’t read past the second line.
- Adapt and innovate to the new ways people are acquiring information and adjust their content accordingly.
The most significant change in how we consume content comes down to engagement. The traditional scenario of journalists writing and readers consuming has been challenged. We are so used to waking up and checking notifications on our phones, iPads, laptops or whatever else; with texts, emails, tweets, Instagram posts, Facebook news and so on. As a result, a so-called ‘survival of the fittest’ situation occurs, where only the most engaging content will reach the audience. Readers no longer want to read heaps of information in the form of what can appear as an essay or monologue, they want to engage with the content, making them feel like they’re part of a conversation. Hence, the lengthy twitter feeds on trending topics each day, that’s people contributing to a wider discussion and interacting with other living beings.
Some publishers and news outlets have made this change and can be seen to be increasingly active on social media. For example, the UK based newspapers such as The Daily Mail, The Telegraph as well as the news broadcaster Sky News have started presenting the content of articles in a series of interactive formats. This is done through short videos, minimal textual content, think polls and quizzes. People are likely to spend an average of 3-4 minutes per visit. Inevitably, this is more encouraging than the abysmal few seconds spent reading a few lines of a written article.
Much of what happens on the web is driven by impressions, which is focused solely on getting as many clicks as possible on published articles. Of course, this is not a particularly meaningful way of measuring the quality of your content, as readers may just spend a second viewing your content. The overall purpose of getting information to the readers is hence defeated. If the quality of the content is compromised for the sake of impressions, the writers are required to produce content on what is trending, you can be sure that eventually, the quality will deaerate. So, making your content interactive, to the point and quick does not mean it has to be about something that doesn’t resonate with your personal or brand values.
It’s all about adapting to the emerging trends in content creation and making sure it is delivered to the intended audience, with the intended impact.
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Prina Anand, 2018