When I was 15 I knew I wanted to become a journalist one day. I wanted to write, tell people’s stories, learn more about the world and put everything down on paper. Twelve years later I’m doing just that – and so much more. When you think about journalism with no previous experience and knowledge, everything seems so easy. You come up with an idea, you do research, you write, you publish. Done and dusted. At least that’s how I thought it works back then.
Twelve years later, having been in this business for over five years, I almost have to smile at the naivety. People see the final product, which is also all they are truly interested in – understandably so. The readership wants valuable information, valid data and small pieces of gossip sprinkled on top. But as the person behind the stories, the world of journalism is so much more complex, exciting and fun.
The work doesn’t start and end behind the computer, it is so much more diverse and challenging, not only in regards to the people you meet and get to interact with but also the programs you have to make sense of. There’s an editorial system here, multiple content management systems (CMS) there, I remember being 22 finding myself in a jungle of digital systems I had never even heard of. As overwhelming as it is in the beginning, the much more sense it makes after years of using said systems – but on an honest note, there will always be something that doesn’t works, it’s technic at the end of the day.
I would consider myself an autodidact in numerous ways, simply because a high amount of my digital knowledge is self taught. Through trying, failing, my passion for social media and fashion, this blog – my English degree was not very focussed on the media realm after all. The technical world behind journalism always felt worlds away before I actually started working in the industry. And even though I feel like I have reached a rather high level of experience in creating digital content and telling stories on the web I still felt like I was lacking more professional input from that side and could use a more in depth insight into the digital realm in order to truly understand how journalism can function on the internet and still be of the best quality possible.
Journalism is tough these days, the internet has contributed to that. The faster, the better is a popular take but a questionable one. You are supposed to be quick but still accurate and without mistakes, a combination that is almost impossible to achieve in times of people being able to put anything on the internet within mere seconds and without proper fact checking. If you want to stick out these days you have to provide more. Better user experience, easily understandable yet still high quality language, the addition of several types of imagery, a caption that is not clickbait yet still contains enough information to be found on google. It really is an endless list of boxes to tick.
From Journalism to Content Strategy
When doing this everyday you easily lose sight of the big picture and you start to regularly wonder what to improve how to become better and how to rearrange the content in order for it to satisfy the needs of the consumer. I have made it my personal challenge to figure that out – but not autodidacticly this time.
After studying English at university and being used to a rather theoretical approach of scientific projects I needed something more practical to relieve the urge of becoming more knowledgable in the profession I love and have been working in for years. My goal: To use newly acquired knowledge to help my team push the company I’ve been working for to the next level quality wise.
And then I found content strategy.
A melting pot combining all the answers to the burning questions I have been asking myself for years. Frankly, I did not have a clue what exactly content strategy is before diving into this huge field that has only existed for a couple decades, coming to power through the rise of the internet.
What is the link?
One might wonder what content strategy, a strategy for content has to do with journalism and I did too but content strategy has everything to do with journalism. Journalism could not function without content strategy and that is a fact so blatantly obvious I actually feel embarrassed I have never connected the dots.
Content strategy is the theoretical knowledge base of everything I’ve been doing professionally the last couple years, starting from picture language and the way an article is constructed to the way it looks on the website, to the user and to me. From the comment section to the program we use to publish our written words online and from the online archive we access everyday to the videos I take on my smartphone to accompany the stories I tell on social media.
And now I get to learn why content works the way it does in the world wide web and why it sometimes just doesn’t. Suddenly so many mistakes I have made make sense and most of the time the reason is so small you actually get angry about how big the effect of it can be. It’s fascinating how oblivious we are to how much digital content defines our lives these days and how much we still have to learn even though we feel like we already know everything.
A whole New Level of Journalism
I am first and foremost a journalist but I have also been a blogger for eight years, and even though both worlds couldn’t be more different they are connected by content. Content on the web, published in all its various forms. I am excited to explore all the new possibilities content strategy and the Master’s degree I’m doing right now will give me and I am even more excited to implement this new universe I tapped into into my daily line of work. A whole new level of journalism awaits and for someone as enthusiastic about their job as me this is going to be an exciting adventure,