Media consumption has shifted dramatically in the last decade towards digital and social platforms. Journalists must broaden their skill-set to meet the growing demands for online storytelling.

Being a good writer is not enough. According to the Future of Journalism: Interview Series, vice chairman of The National Press Club (US), Christopher Brown says that it is no longer enough to be “one kind of reporter”. Today’s journalist will need to produce a story that can be read in any number of ways.

As two-thirds of the US population now get their news via social media, it is imperative for journalists to develop digital skills.

The Journalist Toolbox observes that since 2010, there has been an increase in the demand for digital skills. In 2015, 62% of journalism jobs require web and multimedia skills.

Tasks from the job ads include:

  • reporting and writing stories;
  • producing photos and videos;
  • engaging the audience via social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit) and,
  • providing analytics on social media engagement.

Clearly, the future of journalism lies in digital media. Journalists will do well to develop the following digital skills to help future-proof their careers.

These skills are:

1. Search engine optimisation (SEO) and keywords for Google

SEO is the practice of including relevant keywords in your online article to improve search result rankings. You want your article to include words you think your audience will look up when searching online.

Before you start writing, you can use any free keyword research tools listed here. Don’t spam the keywords as Google will reason that if you are over-loading keywords, you are spending less time on quality content, and Google only rewards quality content.

Placing links from reputable sites in your article can help boost your ranking in search engines. It is also helpful if credible sites link to your online article on their webpage.

3. Social media and live-streaming

Oftentimes, readers see breaking news on the social media platforms, rather than the news sites.

The 2018 research from Pew Research Center reports that Reddit, Twitter and Facebook have the most news-focused users and are the most popular pathways to news sites. It makes sense to create a profile on these social media sites and share your articles.   

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4. Create your own blog or website

Start your own blog and write about your passion. This will help build your portfolio. With any blog or website, you can also experiment with programming and web analytics.

5. Learn how to edit videos and photos

There are many highly rated video and photo editing apps that you can download onto your smartphone. Most social media apps have built-in photo and video-taking features but with limited editing options.

If your intent is to focus on delivering news via audio and visuals only, then invest in good quality equipment and enrol in courses to learn to use professional grade industry software such as Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Premier Pro.

Currently, there is a trend for reaction videos, for example reaction to a viral video, reaction to a TV program, reaction to new music…and so on. Study how the videos are edited and apply it to your video.

6. Master fundamental journalism skills

Don’t worry about trying to learn everything. Know about digital skills, but be an expert in one or two.

Do remember that digital skills cannot be a substitute for fundamental journalism skills such as good writing, critical thinking, interpersonal communication, good judgement, fact-finding and verification.

Marrying both digital and fundamental skills will give you an advantage in getting your articles in front of editors and building your career as a digital journalist.

About The Author

Alyce Humm graduated from the University of Auckland with a Bachelor of Commerce, majoring in Marketing and Information System. She built a career in marketing where she was involved in both traditional and digital forms of advertising. Apart from that, she also runs her own company in property management and has found great success with using digital and social media strategies. Email her at