Reporter Column: As print news dies out, visual journalism adapts

Opinion by: Dan Thomas

Technology is rapidly changing the world around us. Only a couple decades ago, the majority of mass media news was distributed through newspapers and evening television anchors. Nowadays, the 24-hour news cycle is overwhelmingly populated with digital content.

Technology has opened the door for more variety in powerful journalism – digital storytelling through multimedia video content, 360-degree recording, virtual reality, and social media storytelling on Snapchat or Instagram. These all present a unique opportunity to retell world events or stories in an immersive way over a convenient medium.

Reputable newspapers like The New York Times and Washington Post have rapidly growing multimedia departments to engage the younger public on platforms that are comfortable and convenient for them.

This illustration from Wired Magazine’s article entitled “Journalism Fights For Survival In The Post-Truth Era,” illustrates the spread of how each generation acquires its news these days.

Print media is dying. And for good reason. The days where newspapers dictated public discourse via a front page are long gone. Readers are educated enough to know which topics warrant conversation, but have little regard for who published the information.  

The New York Times recently wrote a piece called “Pioneering Virtual Reality and New Video Technologies in Journalism.” Like the headline indicates, this article essentially describes how the Times has embraced a new age of tech by adapting their journalistic style to emerging storytelling techniques like VR and 360 video.

This concept is further perpetuated on social media. MSNBC, Fox News, National Geographic, The New York Times and USA Today all utilize and maintain active presences on Instagram and Snapchat stories to bring their content to their viewers. Younger generations’ social interaction tendencies are driving news outlets to bring the news to them in a vertical format for ease of access.  

I’ll always be an advocate for visual journalism. Full disclosure, it’s my major. I believe the subjective view of conveying something in words usually comes across to readers as ambiguous. In other words, our unique perspectives are valuable, but destructive when trying to eliminate ourselves from the story or be unbiased.  This is why a photo is worth a thousand words, or so they say.

Journalism is evolving by giving readers a means to simply show someone what happened rather than tell them through a powerful, indisputable, and invaluable medium.

As a final note, print news media will be active for some time to come. I’d wager the next seven years at least. Primarily because there are still a handful of diehard newspaper advocates who will always enjoy the Sunday paper at their favorite coffee shop. There’s nothing wrong with that. But society at large is moving away from print media and will continue to do so until the last newspaper is printed.

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