A First Glance at Digital Journalism

Screen Shot 2015-11-08 at 2.00.59 PM

In beginning the research portion of my project, I started surfing around on a few digital magazine/content provider sites that Professor McDaniel suggested I look into. For those of you who might not know, my capstone project is centered on challenging the notion that print journalism is dead. In particular, I am investigating print articles in a number of prominent magazines, and highlighting what print journalism is still doing better than digital journalism. In this case, though I will not focus on digital content providers, for instance, BuzzFeed, Slate, and Salon, I plan to use them as points of comparison. Below were my immediate thoughts at first glance:

I am extremely familiar with BuzzFeed, and think its content, design, and utility is both innovative and unique. BuzzFeed offers a wide range of article types, including everything from long form to “listicles”. What I like most about BuzzFeed is that its content is presented in a visually appealing manner. Each article is supported with effective images, categorized into sections, or written in a friendly yet witty manner that is easy to understand. I believe, however, that BuzzFeed does not always offer the most newsworthy content to readers. As Michael Massing alludes to in his article on digital journalism in The New York Review of Books, BuzzFeed has a reputation for its cat photos and humorous listicles. I think the “News” section of the site is effective in terms of significant journalism, however, it’s “17 Boozy Ice Cream Recipes To Get You Through The Holidays”- and “19 Times Lindsay From “You’re The Worst” Was A Goddamn Inspiration”-type articles are more effective at entertainment, rather than journalism.

I was a bit overwhelmed by Slate when I first arrived on the website. The content seemed endless and sort of all over the place. At the top of the page, the content was not sorted not by topic or category, rather, by reader activity and recency. It was divided into columns titled “Most Read,” “Most Shared,” “Most Recent,” “In Case You Missed It,” and so on. The interface, however, was extremely representative of “digital journalism.” There were videos, slideshows, and audio recordings embedded into almost every article I clicked on. Overall, though it was difficult to sort through the information, Slate offered a very interactive reading experience, as well as a wide range of content.

I was more comfortable with my experience surfing through Salon than I was surfing through Slate. There were topical categories at the very top of the homepage, which made it easier to sort through the information. Even still, the website provided me with a very- for lack of a better word- vertical experience. I felt the scrolling process was never-ending, that there was an overabundance of content featured on the homepage alone. I felt I had to personally choose which articles were worth clicking on, rather than being shown or told which were most relevant and worth my time. I do recognize that there are less spatial constraints on the Internet, and that digital news organizations take advantage of posting a ton of content at once. I, however, find this aspect of digital journalism overwhelming, rather than beneficial.

5 thoughts to “A First Glance at Digital Journalism”

  1. Hi Hallie,

    I thought this was an incredibly relevant post because I’m also interested in digital journalism and how multimedia innovation is affecting the industry. I thought the three sites you chose to visit were interesting choices. You had great insight into their content, especially for somewhere like Buzzfeed that is so ingrained in today’s culture but also a key case study in viral journalism. I think your point about Buzzfeed not being particularly newsworthy is one that is true but change in the future. Recently outlets like Buzzfeed have been trying to re-brand and situation themselves more meaningfully in the news world. For example, a POLITICO editor just moved over to Buzzfeed’s news content site. So although it may be not be taken seriously now, it could be a vastly different site in just a few years.

    Although Buzzfeed probably won’t be the next New York Times, it’s certainly interesting to consider how rapidly the journalism industry is changing. Your topic is particularly interesting because it has to do with print journalism. I agree with you that it isn’t dead, just evolving. It’s definitely at a time of transition but I don’t necessarily see that as a bad thing but as an opportunity for growth. I’m looking forward to seeing your project develop and learning more!

  2. Hi Hallie,

    You’re tackling a really interesting topic; as someone who has worked in both print and digital journalism I share your insights on the costs and benefits of either medium . I think you’re phrasing your inquiry exactly right — what is print doing better than digital? I think one approach to answering that question is taking into consideration the fact that print journalism allows for less ambiguity as to what actually constitutes a product of journalism. There are frameworks, rules. Though most people tend to agree that there is “good” and “bad” journalism (familiar examples are BBC and Fox News respectively), I think we could be more critical of the distinction between “bad” journalism and “non” journalism, particularly in the digital age. At the basic level of its definition, there must be some component of news being transmitted in the content in order for the phrase to apply, which, in the case of most listicles, there isn’t. I agree with you completely — Is Buzzfeed an important cultural source of information and analysis? Definitely. But whether or not it can be grouped with other modern news publications like Slate that take advantage of a digital sphere is more contentious.


  3. Hallie,

    I really enjoyed your breakdown, and seeing that you have more knowledge and experience with regards to journalism than I do, I am curious to hear more of your thoughts on Buzzfeed. I have heard many people speak about Buzzfeed in a more positive light lately (I am aware that their news outlet broke a few major stories this last year), but I am still a skeptic when it comes to Buzzfeed. Their articles seem to act strictly as clickbait, which for many potential readers, such as myself, renders their news content untrustworthy. I’m wondering how prominent these tactics are in printed publications. Publications such as tabloids are essentially physical forms of clickbait, but they do not offer legitimate “news” to readers. Are there other magazines, however, that offer news and content that is published for the sole purpose of fishing for readers? People Magazine comes to mind, but it seems like content and sites published in the digital marketplace are given more leeway and a longer leash when it comes to using baiting tactics to lure readers. Are the guidelines at printed media outlets stricter than those at online publications? I’m curious to hear your response, especially given your background last summer. Looking forward to seeing your final product!

  4. Hola!

    It seems like you are making great progress since the last time we met as a group, which is amazing! It seems to me that you are able to understand more and more about how you want to shape your argument by researching these other platforms that digital journalism has to offer. I am not really familiar with Salon or Slate like I am with Buzzfeed, but it seems to me that they all have put a twist on what print journalism has to offer (well, duh Emily, thats obvious). The reason why I say this is because I feel like you can add more in your research and reflection about what brings readers to print journalism more. At the end of your post you mentioned how digitally, you can post as much content as you want. Questions to consider then with print would be like how does this “restriction” of limited content publish affect what you provide your audience with? Does this provide your audience with better/important/informative information than what digital provides? I feel like if you add in more information as to how digital provides so much more “fluff” or extra stuff that may not offer the best content that print form makes.

    I look forward to discussing my idea more in person later. Keep up the good work!

  5. Hi Hallie,

    So your project already sounds like an interesting topic, especially with the fact that you are defending print journalism. I for one love print articles. They tend to be interesting and well researched, and they are displayed in a typically appealing way, especially in magazines. I’m really looking forward to what you produce as far as your project.

    Now I definitely agree with you on the presentation of buzzfeed. It is enjoyable, and slightly easier to read. Also in regards to Slate and Salon, I don’t know as much about the design of their site or how they present their projects. However, one thing I hope you do consider is the fact that a lot of these articles are still inherently similar to how things are presented in print journalism. For example, I would still look towards the Buzzfeed News feature to see the similarities between the two. The presentation is pretty similar in my opinion when you look at how a lot of magazines do their longform journalism.

    I know you are probably doing this, but something you might want to consider is the shift that print publications are making to the internet. In my opinion in a lot of cases, it has improved their content. I believe magazines like Entertainment Weekly and Sports Illustrated have thrived through their online publications. It could be interesting to see the change in structure of the articles and what these publications post online verses what they post in physical print edition.

    I am looking forward to seeing this project come to fruition.

Leave a Reply