The introduction of online newspapers and magazines has most definitely had an immense impact on the field of Journalism and, while much of that change is positive, there is no denying that it is almost too easy to become a “journalist” these days.
So this would beg the question, well what exactly is a journalist? How do you define that word when just about anyone can hop on their computer and type up a blog post about whatever is on their mind and have over a million views instantly? Even if that article brings no new knowledge to its readers nor bears any merit.
That seems to be the question that all journalists – who are writing in-depth, thought out, and meaningful articles for respected news sources – are asking. And what they are discovering is that there is a battle to keep their readers’ attention when the internet is filling itself with these empty, yet entertaining articles.
Readers these days have lost their abilities to keep focused when reading online articles. They rely on photographs, lists with boldface, short and to the point articles that will take almost no time to read. Their attention spans have reduced immensely and most people seem to be more drawn to articles about celebrities, baby animals, or silly quizzes over the more academic and deeply researched articles.
This change in readers’ interest and their shortened attention spans had led to the question: what’s more important? Writing articles that will gain clicks or writing articles that are meaningful and are “newsworthy”?
The answer to that is, hopefully, both. To write something that is heavily researched and hard-hitting but in a way that will catch the attention of today’s readers is difficult. Especially because you, as the journalist, may have a lot to say since you’ve uncovered a lot on your topic, but you must be careful to write only that which is most crucial to the story and that will keep the readers attention.
If your article is full of fluff or non-crucial information you will loose your readers’ attention right away. If there are no images that break up the text, again you will loose your readers. If you don’t have boldfaced topics or other ways of organizing and breaking up the text, this could also be detrimental.
The field has changed, and there is no ignoring it in this tech-obsessed culture. Now to be a respected, yet successful journalist, you must understand how to fit in all that important information that proves you put in the effort to really learn about and research the article’s topic, while also presenting it in a brief and attention grabbing way that will be able to compete with the vast sea of other articles that your readers can pick over yours.