What skills do magazine journalists need to make the crossover to digital media?

A rapid increase in the advancement of technology has disrupted and transformed many industries. The magazine journalism industry is no exception.

Our favourite magazines now exist in print as well as digital format, while others no longer exist in their print form at all. This digital wave brings with it a new set of expectations from users as their media consumption habits continually change.



Social media savvy for writers in the digital age

You need to be au fait with most media platforms, not just the most popular. Periscope, Slack and Shot are new kids on the block. Fully immerse yourself in them. Knowing how to manage multiple social media accounts and how to share useful content across all platforms is vital.

Jason Brown, Head of digital media at Rodale titles South Africa, Media24 Lifestyle, says, Focusing on the right platforms to deliver the most compelling content is what will define the future.” They’ve realised that mastering a few channels is key.

Brown claims that they’ve seen success when they’ve invested in a regular schedule that suits their audience, consistently engages with them, challenges them and provides the information they’ve come to trust.

Engage on Social Media

Rebecca Smeda, Business development director at content marketing agency John Brown Media SA says brands need to fully engage with users by crafting personalised content to truly be effective. This is essential to grow and service your audience effectively. You need to know what people are talking about. What is the current conversation? You could find your next big story, as well as great sources for that story.

A versatile skill set makes for a valuable magazine journalist

The magazine journo of the future needs to be versatile. Develop a specialised technical skill such as coding. Learn a combination of skills – how to shoot a video and html skills to embed the video into your article. This will allow you to work almost seamlessly across a digital and print team.

Sumien Brink, Editor-in-Chief of VISI magazine explains, “We have seen success from having one team working across print, digital and social media, so that the platforms don’t become siloed or feel outsourced, which means that content delivery is cohesive.”

Forecasting the next big thing in the media

Know what the next big thing is. Acquire knowledge and understanding of new media, while keeping an eye on trends in the industry. It is important to be innovative. Fresh ideas can assist your publication to be at the forefront as technology races ahead.

*Ian Middleton’s Magazine Journalism Success Story
*Skills Needed For Magazine Journalism: Why The Soft Ones Count – By Jane Schiever
*Magazine Journalism Skills Upgrade: Career-Proof Your Future

Using data to drive journalism

Equip yourself with the tools to analyse data. It should inform people by providing a richer context to your story which will make you a valuable asset in any team.

Philip Meyer, Professor Emeritus from the University of North Carolina says, “When information was scarce, most of our efforts were devoted to hunting and gathering. Now that information is abundant, processing is more important.”

Continuous learning to stay ahead as a writer

Most people will need to upskill or reskill themselves to remain relevant. Adopt a kickstarter mind-set and be open to continuous learning in order to keep up with these changing times.

About the Author

Feroza van der Merwe is a South African marketing professional and freelance writer based in Johannesburg. She has a keen interest in health, global trends, entrepreneurship and women’s issues. When not writing, she can be found on the adventure of her life as a mom or brainstorming over cherry hot chocolate with inspiring friends.

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