What is the future of journalism and how does a web writer stay relevant and up to date in the ever-changing digital world? Will we all soon be replaced by robots and automation?


Be prepared for the rise of virtual reality

As publishers seek to find more gripping content, virtual reality is predicted to become “the next internet” by Reuters Institute in their Journalism, Media, and Technology Trends and Predictions 2017.

According to New York Times Editor Jake Silverstein VR “is capable of triggering a sense of connection between you as a viewer and the people or the events that are in the film, because you feel as if you’re present.”

Reuters believe that in 2017 the larger platforms are going to incentivise the set up of more VR journalism studios to help stimulate this developing market. As a web journalist it’s time to embrace VR and consider how it could be of value in telling your story.


Learn to work with pop-up newspapers and magazines

Reuters also predict that the current climate of social and political turmoil, as well as new technology, will mean an increase in pop-up publications such as The New European (launched after the UK Brexit vote).

Web journalists will need to keep up with emerging publications such as this, be more flexible, efficient and be on the lookout for new opportunities.


Use technology creatively

It’s now more important than ever for writers to be up to date with current technology. The Guardian Newspaper advises that “although the story itself will still be the backbone of journalism” writers should make use of new technology to engage readers creatively, for example with animated news stories.

We may have once thought that technology and the internet would kill journalism, but instead as Brian O’Kelley, CEO of AppNexus writes in his blog:  “The rise of new digital-only outlets like Buzzfeed, Vox and Mashable suggests that the Internet may be a creator rather than a destroyer of journalism.”


“The rise of new digital-only outlets like Buzzfeed, Vox and Mashable suggests that the Internet may be a creator rather than a destroyer of journalism.”



Can Robots make the job easier?

Those of us who grew up in an era of sci-fi movies with computers taking over the world, may feel a chill on reading this – but it’s true that fact-checking, article-writing robots are here.

According to Reuters:

  • Companies like Full Fact are already developing a digitally based service that can fact-check a live press conference.
  • Automated stories are predicted to become more common with news agencies using them to increase the speed and number of stories they can produce. Basic financial and sports stores are already being written by computer automation seconds after the results come out.

A successful web journalist in the future will need to work with technology rather than fear it, and know their own strengths so they can focus on areas where they can outperform computers.

The world continues to change at a faster rate than ever. But part of a web journalist’s job is to read, research and interpret information – this skill can be used to keep on top of the latest emerging trends and changes.


So what is the future of journalism?

Rebecca Sian Wyde says it well in her article for The Guardian: “Technological advances are currently allowing an unprecedented surge of creativity in the industry, where journalists are finding ever more diverse and fascinating ways to tell their stories.”

Stay creative, embrace change, and tell your story.


In a Reuters survey of 143 Editors, CEOs and Digital Leaders:

  • 70% advise that worries over the distribution of fake/inaccurate news in social networks will strengthen their position.
  • 46% say they are more worried about the role of platforms than last year.
  • 33% of respondents from a newspaper background are more worried about their company’s financial sustainability than last year. Just 8% are less worried.

Source: Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism



About the Author

Jeanine Rowell began her career working in the marketing departments of large multinational corporations. However, a love of writing drew her out of the corporate environment to explore her more creative side. When she isn’t writing, you will find her spending time with her two young daughters, hiking, cycling and enjoying New Zealand’s natural wonders.

Jeanine is a recent graduate of the Magazine Journalism Course at NZ Writers College.


Photo Credit: Pexels.com