Long gone are the days when digital-only publications were seen as less prestigious or less trustworthy than their paper-based peers. According to the Pew Research Center, as print newsrooms cut back on editorial staff, thousands of journalists have migrated to small and large native digital news outlets. Over the past two years, even many well-known journalists have moved to native digital news ventures, including former New York Times tech columnist David Pogue, who joined the staff of Yahoo! News, and former New York Times executive editor Bill Keller, who left The Gray Lady to become editor of The Marshall Project, a nonprofit focusing on criminal justice issues. 

The growing investment in digital journalism has caused a migration of talent to digital news outlets, a shift that has “significant implications,” according to Pew’s report. The first effect is that nonprofit digital outlets, such as Pulitzer Prize-winning ProPublica, have tried to fill gaps created by the strain on resources at traditional news organizations. The second effect is that large digital news producers are changing the nature of news by focusing on new forms of storytelling—from video to crowdsourcing to new documentary styles. Although the industry has not figured out how to make money from digital journalism, the rise of digital newsrooms is, according to Pew, seen as “a significant moment in a transforming media landscape.”     
What does this shift to digital journalism mean for companies and other organizations trying to market their news? Here are five implications you’ll want to consider.
  • Your online newsroom is more important than you might think. There was a time when only a handful of established news organizations garnered the attention and trust of the public, but today Americans get their news from multiple sources—from nonprofits like ProPublica to social media, Jon Stewart and the “late” Stephen Colbert. If you establish high journalistic and editorial standards in your online newsroom, you can become a trusted, if niche, source of news for consumers and journalists alike.
  • Digital journalism’s “new storytelling”—which emphasizes video and visuals—is extremely important. Content is more than text in the digital world, so your online newsroom should include multimedia elements. While the press release is still an important genre, it can be executed in a contemporary manner, using video, photos and other graphic elements to engage the user. Toyota and T-Mobile make good use of multimedia elements in their online newsrooms, which serve multiple professional and consumer audiences well.

In their online newsroom, Toyota adds videos and photos to press releases. 
  • Journalists rely on your online newsroom for information and materials. Given the budget cuts at many news outlets, journalists, like everyone else, are looking to do more with less. If your online newsroom can save them time by providing access to key information, everything from media contacts to archived press releases, they will rely on it as a source for their research. If your online newsroom provides high-res photos and video, materials that are harder to produce now that news organizations have cut staff, a reporter may choose to cover your product or service rather than a competitor’s. (Download our 2015 Online Newsroom Survey Report to learn what journalists seek in an online newsroom.)
  • Digital is legit, and the world is wireless. Every new medium, from writing itself (see Plato), the novel, radio, TV, the internet and most recently social media, has been met with skepticism and fear, which dissipate with time and use. No longer is digital dissed or deemed disreputable. In fact, in 2013 the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said companies can use social media outlets to announce key information in compliance with Regulation Fair Disclosure as long as investors have been told which social media platforms will be used to disclose the information. In 2008, the SEC said that websites can be used to disseminate information to investors, with the same caveat—investors must be told where and how information will be disclosed.
  • Build it and they may come, but distribution is key.  With the sheer number of news choices available today, helping journalists and consumers find your news is as important as building a great online newsroom. SEO, social media and email distribution are essential tools for disseminating your news. Email is particularly important for reaching journalists, 92% of whom prefer to be contacted by email, according to TEKGROUP’s 2015 Online Newsroom Survey Report.
In a sense, the shift to digital journalism is a boon for your online newsroom, but it also raises the bar.  Journalists and consumers expect more in a company or organization’s online newsroom—the old “press release graveyard” just won’t cut it. To find out more about how journalists use online newsrooms and what they expect when they visit, download our 2015 Online Newsroom Survey Report today. 


Steve Momorella

Online Public Relations
Email: steve@tekgroup.com
Phone: 734-945-7790
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