One thing I’m doing more of this year is reading more international content to see how the rest of the world covers news. I’ve also researched more sites that write specifically about the media and have found one that has yet to disappoint.
With ever-evolving opportunities to discover and share stories on digital platforms, the need to keep digital skills up-to-date is vital for journalists.
In order to give journalists an idea of some of the main skills to be working on, we sourced ideas from the Journalism.co.uk newsroom and our Twitter community to compile a list of 10 key areas to consider.
We hope that the mix of skills, techniques and qualities listed below would help journalists to stay ahead of the game in terms of digital innovation, be able to harness the latest tools and techniques most effectively and create the best quality content for their audience.
There are, of course, lots of other useful skills to make you stand out in the newsroom, the list below is not all-inclusive, but these are some of those considered particularly important in today's media world. In no particular order:
- Validate and verify
In the midst of a breaking news event, as information and rumour spread around social networks and the rest of the web, being able to verify content as true, or as close to the truth as can be established, is a hugely valuable and important skill. And it is one which many journalists continue to hone.
Whether that's establishing the date or location of an image or video, or simply corroborating written accounts of an event, the journalist's role in uncovering the facts is no less vital on digital platforms.
In addition to the traditional skills involved in trying to reach the source and others who may be able to corroborate the story, there are a wealth of tools and options available online, such as to investigate the history of an image or key features of a video.
Chief technology officer of Storyful Paul Watson suggested to Journalism.co.uk that journalists use Google Image Search to check out the past-life of a photo. You can download a Google Chrome extension to do that with a simple click of the mouse.
Many more tools journalists can use, such as Tin Eye and Snopes, are referred to in this Journalism.co.uk guide on how to verify content on social media.
The importance of verification has only been further highlighted lately by the recent purchase of social news wire Storyful – which runs a Google+ Open Newsroom for community verification – by News Corp, and the development of the InformaCam app which will gather metadata – time, location and more – when the photo or video is taken to assist in verification.
- Understanding analytics and how to use them
Know how many pageviews your last article has received so far, or what the key traffic referrals were? If so, how will you then use that information? Knowing how to find, understand and use analytics data is another important skill for journalists to really get to grips with.
Along with editorial judgement, journalists can use the data to, for example, consider optimum times of the day to share content on specific platforms, how best to deliver the content or what sort of content the audience is most engaged with.
News outlets use a multitude of platforms to measure this data, ranging from third-party platforms like Chartbeat, Omniture and Visual Revenue to their own custom-made platforms. The Guardian and Forbes Media have both built their own analytics platforms, and Journalism.co.uk recently spoke to those behind them about the process and benefits of 'doing it yourself'.
There are also a number of platforms for focusing in on social media analytics, covered in detail in this Journalism.co.uk feature on how to use such data to inform social strategy.
- Make the most of your mobile
2013 offered up further examples of the power of the smartphone for both journalists themselves, and members of the public, to gather and share content on the go.
Early last year the Associated Press used live video streaming app Bambuser to share footage following an explosion in Prague, BBC News has used its Instagram account to share 15-second video snippets documenting the impact of the typhoon in the Philippines, and Sky News aims to have its journalists broadcasting "live within 90 seconds" thanks to their use of smartphones and broadcasting app Dejero.
Mobile reporting is far from a new trend, but the ability to quickly capture, edit and share images and video with ease is a vital tool for any digital journalist and, as we head into 2014, it is a time where digital journalists are fast establishing their ultimate mobile reporting kit to have to hand. Keep an eye on the Journalism.co.uk App of the Week for ways to make your smartphone a more efficient reporting partner.
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