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What is the future of digital journalism?

Digital media has transformed how people create and consume news. Americans no longer solely rely on newspapers or media outlets to get their news.

"Right now everybody is a recorder, but everybody is not a reporter, said Amy Eisman, director of journalism for American University’s School of Communication. “Journalism is for the people who are reporters.”

Reporters verify information; ensure accuracy, transparency, and report important information, said Eisman.

Watch Amy Eisman’s full interview about the future of digital journalism.

Two-thirds of Americans report they get “some of their news on social media” and 44 percent of Americans get some of their news from Facebook, according to a survey conducted by Pew Research Center as of August 2017.

The plethora of information in the form of podcasts, livestreams, and blogs, mixed with click-bait content may be overwhelming and confusing for many people. Social media enables us to access information quickly but leaves it up to everyday citizens to differentiate between fake or accurate news.

Facebook’s changing algorithms, created echo chambers, and transformation to an advertising-based revenue model will have an impact on the content we see. Important and objective news may not even find its way into our personalized newsfeeds on Facebook, usually jam-packed with ads and content that aligns with our existing views.

News organizations are adapting to new technological trends, whether it is:
  • Packaging news with algorithms into consideration.

  • Creating content pertaining to trending topics.

  • Covering news via Facebook livestream and other digital media platforms.

  • Engaging with followers on social media platforms.

These tools can help readers obtain and retain information otherwise, they wouldn’t. BuzzFeed videos and listicles continue to drive their revenue.

“There will always be new technologies, new ways of delivering information, but the core is still the same,” said Samar Saadaon, Community Manager, Assistant Editor at Middle East Broadcasting Networks (MBN), Arabic-language news organization with a reach of more than 25.7 million people in the Middle East and North Africa.

“We are seeing a lot of progress on the technical level, but we are not seeing improvement on the content level,” said Saadaon.

Saadaon believes the focus of digital media and journalism in the future will concentrate on solving the following two issues:

1. Facebook, with over 2 billion users, is moving towards an advertising-based revenue model to increase profit. Pages in the future will have a non-existent organic reach without boosting posts or paying for ads.

2. News outlets lack objectivity and have their own political bias. Currently, people in the United States follow specific news outlets because they align with their political beliefs.

Facebook is working on a project to support journalism, but Saadaon is not very optimistic. An independent third party needs to come out, who will gain followers on the basis of their objectivity, expresses Saadaon.

Content is king, no matter what path technology takes, stressed Saadaon.

“If you have great content, they will find you,” said Saadaon.

Saadaon believes the success of livestreaming on Facebook and Twitter proves this. Even though on a technical level, it’s not very appealing, the audience feels connected. Instantly, they are seeing what is going on in an unedited form and by commenting live, they feel like they are a part of the story.

“The future of journalism is probably dependent on whether people believe that facts make a difference,” said Eisman. “I can’t imagine a world where people don’t want real information to make their decisions.”

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