Lets take a moment to reflect on America fifty years ago – 1965. How did people in this time receive news or information? Before you start thinking that 1965 was a “stone age” and it was too long ago for television, think again. Television was very common in American homes and many families did receive their news this way. Many people also enjoyed listening to the radio and tuning into broadcasts of current events. However, the majority of the public audience received news and information about their communities, the nation, or the world from a newspaper. How often do we see people reading a newspaper today? Unless the person reading the paper is sixty-five years of age and older, it isn’t too common these days. As we push further into this Digital Age, the more we push our noses into screens more different aspects of our lives and this includes how we receive news and information of things going on in our world and we call it digital journalism.
In 2008, it was reported for the first time in history that the American public received more of their national and international news from the Internet versus the traditional newspapers. Two years later it was discovered that 65% of people under the age of thirty were using the Internet as their main source of news and information consumption. What is so great about digital journalism that it is impacting our lives this much? First, digital journalism has allowed the reader to have far more control over what they want to read. If you were to Google the topic of George Washington, you would get thousands upon thousands of articles and other mediums published under this topic. Digital journalism has allowed the readers to filter through what they choose to read in terms of article depth, the type of language the author uses, the source the article comes from, and so much more. Digital journalism is also received in an instant. Twitter is one of the most popular sources of news because it updates so often and be read by the viewer in no time. Also, many Twitter users go further than the tweets that are provided. They often use the links from specific tweets to go directly to the source of the tweet itself. Twitter isn’t replacing news, it is amplifying it. While on the topic of Twitter, it goes without saying that their big “thing” is the hashtag. Hashtags can be created by anyone and used to link thousands of people to one topic just by using it. The popularity of the hashtag has created a new outlet for digital journalism. By using a relevant hashtag for a given topic, this can connect the audience with thousands of other sources of news on a given topic. For example, one of the most used hashtags of 2014 was #BlackLivesMatter. In relation to the multiple cases of American police officers and African Americans, this hashtag was used over and over to categorize articles of this topic across the Internet. However, like almost everything on the Internet, hashtags can get out of hand. They can often be too long to be relevant or too creative to even make sense. This dilemma has stemmed one of my favorite Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake skits:
It goes without saying that journalism is still relevant. Whether it is in the traditional sense like newspapers or digital like Twitter, people are still consuming news and information daily. People are constantly learning and discovering new things about the world around them, but the ways in which they do so many differ. Digital journalism and journalism in general is here to stay.