Digital journalism

Digital journalism

Digital journalism is a term used to describe journalism originating from the Internet. Technological innovation, which previously allowed the mass distribution of news and information to large audiences, is now giving that power to individuals. Digital journalism is creating a new media landscape for the 21st century, with low barriers to entry, computer networking technologies, and new writing genres such as blogs. Freed from the necessity of large investments in distribution and production equipment, individuals and grass-root organizations have pioneered various new journalistic styles and practices and generated new communicative forms such as YouTube and hyperlocal geographically-based websites.



There is no absolute agreement as to what constitutes digital journalism. The repurposing of print content for an online audience is sufficient for some, while others require content created with the digital medium’s unique features like hypertextuality.[1] For Deuze, online journalism can be functionally differentiated from other kinds of journalism by its technological component which journalists have to consider when creating or displaying content. [2] Digital journalistic work may range from purely editorial content like CNN (produced by professional journalists) online to public-connectivity websites like Slashdot (communication lacking formal barriers of entry).[3] The difference of digital journalism from traditional journalism may be in its reconceptualised role of the reporter in relation to audiences and news organizations.[4] The expectations of society for instant information was important for the evolution of digital journalism[5] . However, it is likely that the exact nature and roles of digital journalism will not be fully known for some time.[6]


Digital journalism began with the invention of personal computers in the 1970s. The first type of digital journalism, called teletext, was invented in Great Britain in 1970. Teletext is a system allowing viewers to choose which stories they wish to read and see it immediately. The information provided through teletext is brief and instant, similar to the information seen in digital journalism today.

After the invention of teletext was the invention of videotex, of which Prestel was the world’s first system, launching commercially in 1979 [7] with various British newspapers like the Financial Times lining up to deliver newspaper stories online through it. Videotex closed down in 1986 due to failing to meet end-user demand.[8]

A later major increase in digital online journalism occurred with the first commercial web browsers, Netscape Navigator (1994), and Internet Explorer (1995).[9] By 1996, most news outlets had an online presence. Although journalistic content was repurposed from original text/video/audio sources without change in substance, it could be consumed in different ways because of its online form through toolbars, topically grouped content, and intertextual links. A twenty-four-hour news cycle and new ways of user-journalist interaction web boards were among the features unique to the digital format. Later, portals such as AOL and Yahoo! and their news aggregators (sites that collect and categorize links from news sources) led to news agencies such as The Associated Press to supplying digitally suited content for aggregation beyond the limit of what client news providers could use in the past.[10]

Today, mainstream news sites are the most widespread form of online newsmedia production.[11] As of 2000, the vast majority of journalists in the Western world now use the internet regularly in their daily work.[12] In addition to mainstream news sites, digital journalism is found in index and category sites (sites without much original content but many links to existing news sites), meta- and comment sites (sites about newsmedia issues like media watchdogs), and share and discussion sites (sites that facilitate the connection of people, like Slashdot).[13][14] Blogs are also another digital journalism phenomenon capable of fresh information, ranging from personal sites to those with audiences of hundreds of thousands. [15]

Hyperlocal journalism is journalism within a very small community. Hyperlocal journalism, like other types of digital journalism, is very convenient for the reader and offers more information than former types of journalism. It is free or inexpensive.[16]

Impact on readers

Digital journalism allows for connection and discussion at levels that print does not offer on its own. People can comment on articles and start discussion boards to discuss articles. Before the Internet, spontaneous discussion between readers who had never met was impossible. The process of discussing a news item is a big portion of what makes for digital journalism. People add to the story and connect with other people who want to discuss the topic.

Digital journalism creates an opportunity for niche audiences, allowing people to have more options as to what to view and read.

Digital journalism opens up new ways of storytelling; through the technical components of the new medium, digital journalists can provide a variety of media, such as audio, video, and digital photography.

Digital journalism represents a revolution of how news is consumed by society. Online sources are able to provide quick, efficient, and accurate reporting of breaking news in a matter of seconds, providing society with a synopsis of events as they occur. Throughout the development of the event, journalists are able to feed online sources the information keeping readers up-to-date in mere seconds. The speed in which a story can be posted can affect the accuracy of the reporting in a way that doesn't usually happen in print journalism. Before the emergence of digital journalism the printing process took much more time, allowing for the discovery and correction of errors.

News consumers must become Web literate and use critical thinking to evaluate the credibility of sources. Because it is possible for anyone to write articles and post them on the Internet, the definition of journalism is changing. Because it is becoming increasingly simple for the average person to have an impact in the news world through tools like blogs and even comments on news stories on reputable news websites, it becomes increasingly difficult to sift through the massive amount of information coming in from the digital area of journalism.

There are great advantages with digital journalism and the new blogging evolution that people are becoming accustomed to, but there are disadvantages. For instance, people are used to what they already know and can't always catch up quickly with the new technologies in the 21st century. The goals of print and digital journalism are the same, although different tools are needed to function.

The interaction between the writer and consumer is new, and this can be credited to digital journalism. There are many ways to get personal thoughts on the Web. There are some disadvantages to this, however, the main one being factual information. There is a pressing need for accuracy in digital journalism, and until they find a way to press accuracy, they will still face some criticism.

One major dispute regards the credibility of these online news websites. A digital journalism credibility study performed by the Online News Association compares the online public credibility ratings to actual media respondent credibility ratings. Looking at a variety of online media sources, the study found that overall the public saw online media as more credible than it actually is.[17]

The effects of digital journalism are evident worldwide. This form of journalism has pushed journalists to reform and evolve. Older journalists who are not tech savvy have felt the blunt force of this. In recent months, a number of older journalists have been pushed out and younger journalists brought in because of their lower cost and ability to work in advanced technology settings.

Impact on publishers

Many newspapers, such as the New York Times, have created online sites to remain competitive and have taken advantage of audio, video, and text linking to remain at the top of news consumers' lists.

Newspapers rarely break news stories any more, with most websites reporting on breaking news before the cable news channels.[citation needed] Digital journalism allows for reports to start out vague and generalized, and progress to a better story. Newspapers and TV cable are at a disadvantage because they generally can only put together stories when an ample amount of detail and information are available. Often, newspapers have to wait for the next day, or even two days later if it is a late-breaking story, before being able to publish it. Newspapers lose a lot of ground to their online counterparts, with ad revenue shifting to the Internet, and subscription to the printed paper decreasing. People are now able to find the news they want, when they want, without having to leave their homes or pay to receive the news.[citation needed]

Because of this, many people have viewed digital journalism as the death of journalism.[who?] Free advertising on websites such as Craigslist has transformed how people publicize; the Internet has created a faster, cheaper way for people to get news out, thus creating the shift in ad sales from standard newspapers to the Internet. There has been a substantial effect of digital journalism and media on the newspaper industry. It is now possible to contemplate a time in the near future when major towns will no longer have a newspaper and when magazines and network news operations will employ no more than a handful of reporters.[18] Many newspapers and individual print journalists have been forced out of business because of the popularity of digital journalism.[19] The newspapers that have not been willing to be forced out of business have attempted to survive by saving money, laying off staff, shrinking the size of the publications, eliminating editions, as well as partnering with other businesses to share coverage and content.[20] In 2009, one study concluded that most journalists are ready to compete in a digital world and that theses journalists believe the transition from print to digital journalism in their newsroom is moving too slowly.[21] Some highly specialized positions in the publishing industry have become obsolete. The growth in digital journalism and the near collapse of the economy has also led to downsizing for those in the industry.

Students wishing to become journalists now need to be familiar with digital journalism in order to be able to contribute and develop journalism skills. Not only must a journalist analyze their audience and focus on effective communication with them, they have to be quick; news websites are able to update their stories within minutes of the news event.

Critics believe digital journalism has made it easier for individuals who are not qualified journalists to misinform the general public. Many believe that this form of journalism has created a number of sites that do not have credible information. Sites such as have been criticized for blurring the lines between journalism and opinionated writing.

Some critics believe that newspapers should not switch to a solely Internet-based format, but instead keep a component of print as well as digital. News publication The Ann Arbor News, which ceased print publication in July 2009, is an example of this type of format. The News instead switched to a internet based entity,, in order to keep up with the transition from print to web.

Digital journalism allows citizens and readers the opportunity to join in on threaded discussions relating to a news article that has been read by the public. This offers an excellent source for writers and reporters to decide what is important and what should be omitted in the future. These threads can provide useful information to writers of digital journalism so that future articles can be pruned and improved to possibly create a better article the next time around.


With the rise of digital media, there is a move from the traditional journalist to the blogger or amateur journalist.[22] Blogs can be seen as a new genre of journalism because of their “narrative style of news characterized by personalization” that moves away from traditional journalism’s approach[23], changing journalism into a more conversational and decentralized type of news.[24] Blogging has become a large part of the transmitting of news and ideas across cites, states, and countries, and bloggers argue that blogs themselves are now breaking stories.[25] Even online news publications have blogs that are written by their affiliated journalists or other respected writers. Blogging allows readers and journalists to be opinionated about the news and talk about it in an open environment. Blogs allow comments where some news outlets do not, due to the need to constantly monitor what is posted. By allowing comments, the reader can interact with a story instead of just absorbing the words on the screen. According to one 2007 study, 15% of those who read blogs read them for news.[26]

However, many blogs are highly opinionated and have a bias. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) established guidelines mandating that bloggers disclose any free goods or services they receive from third parties in 2009 in response to a question of the integrity of product and service reviews in the online community.[27]

Citizen journalism

Digital journalism's lack of a traditional "editor" has given rise to citizen journalism. The early advances that the digital age offered journalism were faster research, easier editing, conveniences, and a faster delivery time for articles. The Internet has broadened the effect that the digital age has on journalism. Because of the popularity of the Internet, most people have access, and can add their forms of journalism to the information network. This allows anyone who wants to share something they deem important that has happened in their community. Individuals who are not professional journalists who present news through their blogs or websites are often referred to as citizen journalists. One does not need a degree to be a citizen journalist. Citizen journalists are able to publish information that may not be reported otherwise, and the public has a greater opportunity to be informed. Some companies use the information that a citizen journalist relays when they themselves can not access certain situations, for example, in countries where freedom of the press is limited. Anyone can record events happening and send it anywhere they wish, or put it on their website. Non-profit and grass roots digital journalism sites may have far fewer resources than their corporate counterparts, yet due to digital media are able to have websites that are technically comparable.[28] Other media outlets can then pick up their story and run with it as they please, thus allowing information to reach wider audiences.

For citizen journalism to be effective and successful, there needs to be citizen editors, their role being to solicit other people to provide accurate information and to mediate interactivity among users. An example can be found in the start up of the South Korean online daily newspaper, OhMyNews, where the founder recruited several hundred volunteer “citizen reporters” to write news articles which were edited and processed by four professional journalists [29]


  1. ^ Kawamoto, 2005, p. X.
  2. ^ Deuze 2003, p. 206.
  3. ^ Deuze 2003, p. 207.
  4. ^ Wall 2005, p. 156.
  5. ^ Carlson, David (2003). "History of Online Journalism". In Kawamoto, Kevin. Digital Journalism: Emerging Media and the Changing Horizons of Journalism. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield. Retrieved 2011-09-12. 
  6. ^ Wall 2005, p. 156.
  7. ^ Kawamoto 2005, p. 36.
  8. ^ The Third Wave of Online Journalism.
  9. ^ Scott 2005, p. 94.
  10. ^ Scott 2005, p. 94.
  11. ^ Deuze 2003, p. 206.
  12. ^ Deuze 2003, p. 206.
  13. ^ Deuze 2003, p. 208-211.
  14. ^ Kawamoto 2005, p. 15.
  15. ^ Kawamoto 2005, p. 16.
  16. ^ Rogers, Tony. "What is Hyperlocal Journalism? Sites That Focus On Areas Often Ignored by Larger News Outlets". Retrieved 2011-09-12. 
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^ Wall 2005, p. 154.
  24. ^ Wall 2005, p. 157.
  25. ^ Wall 2005, p. 157.
  26. ^ Synovate survey: New study shows Americans' blogging behaviour
  27. ^
  28. ^ Kawamoto 2003, p. 15.
  29. ^ Bentley 2011, p. 107.


Bentley, Clyde H. 2011. Citizen journalism: Back to the future? Geopolitics, History, and International Relations 3 (1): p103+

Deuze, Mark. 2003. The web and its journalisms: Considering the consequences of different types of newsmedia online. New Media & Society 5 (2): 203-230

Kawamoto, Kevin. 2003. Digital Journalism: Emerging Media and the Changing Horizons of Journalism. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield

Online Journalism Review. 2002. The third wave of online journalism. Online Journalism Review,

Rogers, Tony. What is hyperlocal journalism? Sites that focus on areas often ignored by larger news outlets" Retrieved 2011-09-12.

Scott, Ben. 2005. A contemporary history of digital journalism. Television & New Media 6 (1): 89-126

Wall, Melissa. 2005. "Blogs of war: Weblogs as news." Journalism 6 (2): 153-172

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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