The Importance Of Software And Tech Knowledge In Digital Journalism

Journalism is the delivery of newsworthy facts and events to the public in an accurate, fair and responsible manner. By ‘responsible’, we mean considering the people involved in the news item, and their wishes regarding their personal privacy and safety. Part of the journalism qualification is the study of ethics and proper conduct as a journalist in the public eye.

Digital journalism, then, consists of newsworthy facts that are distributed on a wide range of platforms via the Internet. Today’s journalists still go out and find news items, reporting on events, people, sports and politics. Their equipment has become more sophisticated, requiring a degree of technical know-how, but it is often the behind-the-scenes editing and production that require a high degree of skill.

Journalists are having to learn new skills that the many forms of AI present: working with the tools at hand to create visuals that tell a story; using text and audio; reporting without bias; utilizing infographics and other forms of explanatory information for the clarification of complex situations and figures; and creating media that inspires, educates, and entertains. The use of tools such as videos, podcasts, social media posts and other platforms enables journalists to tell stories that are engaging, effective in getting the message across, and timesaving.

An important requirement for journalists is an understanding of data. Data is all around us, and journalists need to understand and analyze the data at hand when defining and presenting it in their reporting. Journalists make use of public databases such as government websites, surveys, polls, academic papers, and many other sources for the purpose of investigation and reporting.

News organizations and journalists are currently in crisis mode as technology threatens to take over jobs and the public now has the option of free news online, substantially reducing revenue streams. But are journalists’ jobs really at risk? Below, we explore the effects of technology on the journalism profession and examine how journalists can leverage the latest digital developments to improve productivity and effectiveness in their jobs.

Is Journalism For You?

Being a journalist certainly has its challenges, however, the industry is diverse enough for almost anyone to find a niche, whether it’s food journalism, sports journalism or political journalism. Some people prefer the security of working for a news organization, while others prefer the freedom of freelance work.

With an ever-growing digital landscape, accredited schools are teaching traditional journalistic practices to future professionals alongside a whole new array of skills such as coding, digital data analysis and the use of social media platforms in news reporting. Completing a Master’s in Journalism online with St. Bonaventure University can impart the skills necessary for a career in digital news, equipping students with various technological tools and skills as they absorb the principles and ethics that being a journalist entails.

Social Media Platforms

The popularity of social media has now led to a rise in news posts and false information. Journalists who get their material from social media posts (and there is some newsworthy information being presented on these sites) have to be rigorous in checking their facts. They still rely on their contacts, using telephones or meeting people face to face, but digital news needs to be checked using other methods.

Social media is a good medium for getting feedback on articles and often criticism, but it’s also useful for interacting with an audience, learning how people feel about current political issues, and more. News websites that provide feedback options below their articles are also conducive to learning public opinions, likes and dislikes, and provide a valuable service to both news organizations and the public.

Visual Representations: Figures And Statistics

Visual representations are possibly the most important methods in use today in terms of attracting audiences and keeping their attention. Journalists use visualization tools for enhanced reading experiences and to clarify complex sections of data.

Financial journalists have a vast number of data visualization tools with which to explain their figures, converting them into graphs, charts and maps that make complex data easier to understand. The use of these tools enhances financial reporting, making it more convenient for readers who prefer to scan rather than read long articles or go through lists of figures.

The use of infographics is limitless, as, with a few clicks of a button, journalists can depict places, sequences of events, diagrams and explanations, all in colorful, bold print and easy-to-understand detail. Graphics and infographics grab people’s attention, inspiring them to read the accompanying article and creating a more pleasurable reading experience.

Data visualization also adds more credibility to reporting, as simple, uncluttered diagrams make the figures easier to analyze and validate.

Some of the leading media news sites provide interactive graphics as part of their online experience. Readers can filter and manipulate the data in different ways to get a more comprehensive view of what they are looking at.

Investigative journalists may use data-driven investigations to come up with new evidence and new insights. They can also use visuals such as graphics or charts when illustrating their facts.

Journalists also use visuals to tell a story. This can take the form of videos, images or animations that catch the reader’s eye and make for a memorable article. Visuals appeal to the senses and provide clarity.

Some journalists combine data with art, creating colorful diagrams with artistic creativity that enhance the visual appeal of the data being reported on. Data art is a specialized area of journalism that requires equal amounts of skill and flair.

Digital Hardware

Digital hardware refers to the physical components of the devices and includes cameras, special lenses, and lights. Many journalists are increasingly using their smartphones to cover news and tell stories. Drones, which are flexible and economical, are also employed to capture high-quality videos from the sky. They have become a popular choice for reporting in places that are difficult to get to and give a different perspective as they photograph mainly from above.

Digital Software

There are numerous software tools and websites that facilitate professional illustrations, infographics, videos, photographs and more, many of which are free to use or available for a small fee. There are at least 20 social media platforms, each with its own unique offering, that journalists can take advantage of, from blog posts to news sites, chat sites and more.

Search engines such as Google’s Dataset Search tool facilitate fact-checking on the internet through reliable sources, and various sites exist for SEO and keyword checking, empowering journalists to include the correct language to attract users to their articles.

Read Also: Enterprise Reporting Tips for Social Media Marketers

Artificial Intelligence And Innovation

With the release of ChatGPT in late 2022, news leaders began to realize that it was time to discover what artificial intelligence (AI) could offer in terms of skill and innovation – not just in terms of how to use it, but also whether it was accurate and whether it posed any risks. Newsrooms began to release guidelines for their journalists, setting down standards.

In reference to an article by David Caswell dated September 2023, it seems that news organizations would need to develop new AI tools and infrastructure in order to become effective and trustworthy in audience-facing applications. This would include the creation of robotic newsreaders, highly technical solutions to extract news events from large streams of natural speech, and tools for contextualizing complex news. The options are many but are expensive and high-risk.

Back-end projects, however, are reasonably low-risk, and journalists can make use of the categorization of information, search engine optimization (SEO) tools, initial research material, the assembly of newsletters from pre-existing copy, copy-editing tools and data analysis tools.

Caswell predicts that the strategies focused on increasing efficiency may be beneficial in the short term as AI assists journalists with what they are currently doing. However, the real value to news organizations will come from tools that enable them to introduce new products to their audiences, changing the face of news production as we now know it.

Language task projects can be used by news organizations and journalists to modify existing text from a specific source document without adding further information. This is useful for reformatting text for social media platforms, summarizing and scriptwriting for audio and video.

Knowledge task projects, on the other hand, are high-risk applications that use the AI language task learning and not a particular source document. These projects are prone to hallucinations, biases, errors in the training data and out-of-date context. If properly managed (i.e., thoroughly checked and edited), then knowledge tasks can offer value in terms of additional context and different interpretations of events.

Another innovation that is in the early, but reasonably rapid, stages of development is the conversion of medium content (e.g., text-to-video, text-to-audio, audio-to-text, audio-to-video, and so on). This medium-to-medium technology is likely to improve efficiency in the multimedia space, but again, it would need to be carefully managed by editors with sufficient experience in the various fields of media. It would, however, enable the smaller newsrooms to offer a range of media at a lower cost to their organizations.

Newsrooms could train their own language model to interrogate their archives, but it would require expertise that is not easily acquired and is costly. It would also not entirely eliminate the inherent hallucinations and errors, and the periodic retraining that would be required would also be expensive.

Virtual Reality And Augmented Reality In Journalism

Virtual reality (VR) uses a headset to place you in a computer-generated world of images that you can explore, while augmented reality (AR) uses a clear visor or a smartphone to take digital images and paste them into the real world around you. This form of immersive storytelling can be used by news organizations to change the way that we receive news, enhance the experience, and evoke unprecedented emotions when it comes to people, animals and environments around the world.

The problem with this innovation is, understandably, the high costs involved. Earlier experiments slowed down somewhat in the news arena as news corporations ran short of finances and scientists took their technology to more lucrative industries that were willing to fund the experimentation.

A few years down the line, technology is gradually returning to the news organizations. Companies that have their own in-house development teams can create their own tools that can be used to tell multiple stories in the same format, thus saving costs. Besides the cost-saving benefits, journalists are now becoming more innovative as they interact with their content within immersive storytelling technology.

A test conducted by the BBC in 2017 indicated that people who watched the VR presentation of the Congo River in Africa seemed to retain more information than when they watched normal video presentations.

Immersive journalism can take on more than just a visual experience. Audiences are sometimes able to interact with immersive content, depending on whether the material has been developed to prompt for and accept data input. A daily newspaper in Finland, Helsingin Sanomat, has what it calls an ‘evolving story’ that asks questions and, depending on the answers, changes the story to align with the user’s input. This type of immersion story encourages users to take part and interact with the content, resulting in a personal experience that may evoke feelings of sympathy and empathy.


When we think of multimedia, our minds turn to audio and visuals, but there’s a lot more to it. When two modes of media are used in a report or article, it is known as ‘multimodality’. This form of media can include the use of sound, text and photography to create an article that has an impact as it clarifies the content and brings a sense of reality to the story.

Some incredible work has been done in this area, with ‘Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek’ being one of the first and most memorable reports published. Superbly put together, this piece of journalism is an example of what can be done with multiple media technologies.

Aside from video, sound and text, animation and artwork can effectively tell a story in the media. However, some purists believe that multimedia is best left alone unless it adds value to the story.

Robots in Journalism

While robots can assist with writing up press releases or earnings results, they are not very competent when it comes to conducting face-to-face interviews with actual people and asking follow-up questions. Robots lack the critical thinking skills to produce on-the-spot, dynamic news coverage, and they do not have the creativity necessary to produce engaging content.

The automation of certain tasks, such as leveraging data on finance, real estate, and sports, frees up journalists’ time for more important matters, such as investigative reporting and live interviews.

Having said that, it is sometimes more convenient for robots to take the place of humans. Drones and robots can be sent into war zones that are too dangerous for human reporters. They have also shed light on underreported situations in otherwise inaccessible areas, bringing political atrocities and illegal activities into the public eye and the eye of the law.

Drones, however, are prohibitively expensive for smaller news organizations, and the costs of training journalists to use them safely, as well as compliance in terms of privacy and aviation laws, can also be prohibitive. However, the fact remains that it is far better and cheaper to send drones into places where people don’t want to be.

The Future Of Digital Journalism

As we have seen, robots lack the human insights, creativity and critical thinking skills that journalists take months and even years to perfect. Journalists are hands-on, dynamic individuals with a ‘nose’ for news. With the help of technological advancements, journalists are certain to maintain their status quo, providing informative articles and keeping the public up to date with the latest events.

Raj Doshi

I am Raj Doshi, a versatile content writer, and we offer content related solutions for effective digital marketing. Our team of experts ensures that every content-related requirement is met through flawlessly written and technically correct SEO articles, blog spots etc that we offer our clients to increase brand value and visibility of the company.

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