Critique of Digital Journalism editorial by Jason Steele of ‘The Freelancer’

In an editorial posted on March 20, 2015, Jason Steele of The Freelancer publication explained six distinct differences that he as a journalist feels differentiate digital journalism from print journalism. I found this article interesting, as I wish to become a professional print journalist after college. However, working with so much multimedia this semester, I also want to know some things about digital media that may benefit me in the future. So, I began reading. Steele began writing by mentioning that in his own experiences he felt that, while working almost strictly with online publications, the two worlds of digital and print are two completely separate distinctions of reporting. He mentioned that another journalist from San Francisco figured the two were identical, which prompted Steele to define the differences he has experienced. These six differences as outlined in the editorial are as follows: Hook, length, sourcing, accountability, pitching, and pay. The hook is described as a key difference because in online publication, there are consistent “click-bate” icons that could easily draw the reader away from the article. I agree with this, and as a result, it is more important to develop a compelling hook online than in print. Readers in front of a computer screen are more likely to stop reading your article than readers with a paper in their hands. Similarly, Steele mentioned that people are unable to attend to a lengthy article while online, which is where the length of print is seen to be longer. This makes sense for the same reason as the hook. For sourcing, online authors are kept to much less strict guidelines than those of print journalists. I found this interesting, because it came off as a rather loose way to perform news telling. Sourcing is incredibly important, and I would never wish to cut corners. However, it makes sense with the ease of the internet in today’s society. As for accountability, online publications are much more easily fixed if errors are found, and thus could be repaired in minutes without the need of retraction from a print editor. The aspect of pitching story ideas as well follows less strict guidelines as an online publisher and are expected to work individually or more independent of others. Finally, online authors are typically paid less as the material is much easier to produce. However, with the flexibility of the internet, the opportunities to work more per hour and on more stories is much more attainable than with a print organization. I found the editorial to be thorough and informative. A lot of the information makes sense for fairly obvious reasons, however I deepened my understanding of the real world distinctions of print and digital journalism. I hope to use what I got out of this editorial to ensure my success in journalism, no matter what field that may be.


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