The new storytelling; interactive journalism

1 Aug

Karalee Evans works in digital but still has her soul as well as a passion for writing, snowboarding and politics. Working in communications, digital and strategy for the past decade (there is no way to write that without sounding old), Karalee still isn’t an expert. But she can pour a pretty mean pint.

A lot has been written across various publications on the new dawn of journalism and public relations. From recent redundancies at News Ltd and Fairfax, and what this could mean for public relations, through to the move to digital from print press news, we’re certainly witnessing a seismic change to the media landscape as we knew it.

However, among this negativity and the cries of the inevitable ‘death of journalism’, there are hints at where journalism is moving to and as Big Kev used to say; I’M EXCITED!

With the advent of digital into our news consumption, the cream of the crop is starting to rise. Understanding the unique proposition of digital into the news mix is no easy task and it goes beyond multi-media content. The winners in this new storytelling era understand digital; the medium is the message.

The New York Times is perhaps not the first media outlet that springs to mind when you think about news institutions adopting the digital age. However, the masthead has quietly excelled at understanding the differences digital can facilitate in presenting a story. Take for example this Olympics section. Not only is the NYT reporting on the Games, but they are delivering value-added content via their digital medium. The interaction adds to the reader’s experience, and supports their position as being the place for Americans to get their Olympics coverage.

Interactive journalism such as this example and our own ABC’s Victorian Bushfires Hub, allows journalists to engage their audience in a unique way. Just as brands understand that digital outreach must be experiential and valuable to engage their audiences, media outlets are starting to demonstrate their willingness to let a reader interact with, experience and learn from, their reporting.

And the benefits are greater than simply facilitating interaction with an audience; more interaction means more time on site, which means more time to push additional content and of course, more opportunity to integrate advertising meaning more revenue.

Passive consumption of news in the digital era is no longer a sustainable business model for news outlets and indeed brands. We’ve seen the emergence of social networks take over that role. However, if media outlets can provide an experience to their audience that moves beyond passive reporting into rich, experiential storytelling, they can acquire and retain a loyal audience and drive revenue.

The days of the newspaper may be numbered, but the future of interactive journalism and story-telling is just beginning. And journalists, editors and public relations practitioners need to embrace it.

Or be left behind.

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