One might think, being a journalist before the rise of the internet was easier – professionals just had to worry about filling one product, the printed issue. No fancy photo slides or social media channels to fill, no video content that needed to be edited and no digital archives with technical difficulties complicating the workflow. 

The wide variety of publishing options on the web in addition to a printed newspaper has undoubtedly increased the workload but has also made it more fun, creative and full of countless possibilities. One article can result in various different content types that bring value to the topic and the information delivered. In order to not lose track of what is important – the core message of the article – it is important to pinpoint key factors very early in the writing and research process. 

User Interaction as Key in Digital Publishing

Digitally published stories have almost overtaken printed issues in the last couple years due to easier and quicker consumption and often more additional visual content types than a printed article has to offer. 

The increasing preference of digital news is closely connected to the ongoing speed people experience in their daily lives. This means that articles on the web can’t be too long as a high percentage of it won’t be read if it exceeds a certain length – people don’t have time to read through page long essays which are usually published in weekend issues. What they do consume, however, is visual content. If a story includes numbers, nice scenery, interesting protagonists or a change in landscape, technology provides journalists with amazing tools to visualise information and make it more digestible and easier to understand for the reader – information architecture is a key word here. 

Interactive maps, sliding images, interviews on video, a video report – content types which will keep the reader not only occupied but will increase the time spent on the page. The visuals provided in the article are meant to underline the text and give the reader the feeling to be more immersed in the topic. Therefore it is important to be aware of the direction the article is going before starting general research, in order to pinpoint possibilities of visualising content in the digital realm.

Short, Brief, Yet Precise

Social Media, on the other hand, is a shortened, yet precise version of the content already published. On social media, people spent even less time consuming information as when they are actively opening a news app or page. Social Media is defined by a „scrolling culture“, content passes by with the swipe of a finger, which needs to be taken into consideration when creating informative posts for a news page. Visuals used in the digital article can be re-modelled or even re-used and underlined with short and precise sentences summarising the topic without losing the core story mentioned above.

This is challenging, yet important. Edited videos used in the digital story can additionally be published on social media and linked back to the website, an article about statistics published on the web can be turned into an infographic still containing the most valuable and most important information and additionally making the consumer curious about the actual full length article. Additionally, social media works best with humans. Consumers connect with people sharing their life stories, so putting those on social media should be a given. 

Print is Not Dead

Last but not least, the veteran amongst publishing options – print. Some people may have already forgotten it exists but it is still very important to give the traditional way of publishing articles the lime light it deserves. At this point it is a kind of nostalgia that keeps printed issues of newspapers alive. Sitting at the breakfast table, feeling the inked paper in-between your fingers – reading a newspaper is a whole different experience in comparison to reading articles online.

Print doesn’t care about SEO, a report about brave humans can have a subtle, metaphorical title without giving away everything at once.

One might not be able to project moving images into the paper but you can still tell a story differently. When writing online, titles are influenced by SEO related decisions. In print, however, the layout of the page immediately reveals the topic which simultaneously gives the writer more freedom in creativity when it comes to the title. Print doesn’t care about SEO, a report about brave humans can have a subtle, metaphorical title without giving away everything at once. In the digital realm, a short title should include every important info in order to attract readers beyond the landing page. 

Digital, print and social Media – they can exist as individuals but are better as a team. Especially when all three don’t only fulfil the needs of their respective platforms but also complement each other in terms of content types and form a vast and rich field of visuals and high quality text.

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