Journalism 101

Journalism 101

Written in 2019

Journalism is famously named to be “the first draft of history.” That vision is what’s gotten me to fall in love with journalism as a practice and fascination as an industry.

As a reminder, journalism - with a lowercase J - is a practice. Some other day, I’ll write more on how it changes a person and the keystones that hold the practice together and how they’ve changed. Today, I want to keep us on the same page on what the overall aspects of the Capital J of Journalism works.

Tech interface

New technology is changing how journalists interact with their audience, how they tell stories, which formats they use and how users perceive them. Immersive journalism makes users part of the news by letting them experience the stories up close, artificial intelligence supports media makers in their work in the editorial offices, new interfaces allow completely new types of communication with the devices and thus also with the audience and new technical infrastructures present us with new challenges every day.


AI has been journalism’s biggest fear for the past 10 year. When I was in school, my professors often used to joke, “yeah, until we have AI. Then you all probably won’t have a job.” Honest, true, but what exactly could AI do that I couldn’t? Algorithms have been writing sports reports for a long time, and now also poems. Historically, The Reuters News Agency experimented with software: Lynx Insight.

It is intended to help journalists analyze data and give them the opportunity to find stories faster - it also supports them with writing. Algorithms should recognize if there is a particularly significant change in a stock market price, and in the next step they should inform the reporter, who can then react to it.

IOT Journalism

Tracking processes have started that is fundamentally changing the way journalists work. By 2020, 50 billion devices worldwide will be connected to one another. So a whole world of opportunities to find stories will open up here. Sensors for temperature measurement, for earthquake monitoring, for collecting climate data and much more can massively expand the repertoire of journalists.

This constant monitoring directly connected to news rooms acts for live information in the movement and changing of public assets.


Deep fakes are manipulated videos that show people in situations that never existed. A prominent example: Emma Gonzales is tearing up the American constitution. But someone has cheated here. Because actually she tears up a target to protest against the gun laws in the USA. For journalists, these fake videos present some hurdles. Because nobody can tell at first glance whether the image material is real or not. The line between true and false, real and fake is shifted and the credibility of reporters is attacked. Software that recognizes whether a video is real or not does not yet exist.

Newsroom Automatization

The newsroom is a fast and messy process.

Juicer, for example, observes the RSS feeds of the BBC and other organizations, sorts and orders the articles that appear and looks at what is important and what is not.

Editor helps New York Times reporters manage metadata on their texts. The program also helps sort comments from readers.

Graphiq makes data visible. Real time. If a medium implements a graphic in one of its articles, the graphic is continually adapted when new data is available.

Robot Journalism


Immersive journalism plays with the first person experience of the user. Whether in 360 ° videos, augmented reality, in which you only add additional information to the environment, or virtual reality, in which you completely immerse yourself in a 3D animated reality, stories can be experienced in a completely different way.

Augmented Reality

Three-dimensional journalism, the insertion of virtual objects into reality, that is the goal behind augmented reality.

  • Media houses like the New York Times are experimenting with merging the analog and digital worlds. The cell phone's camera becomes a window into this new world.
  • In the news area, Quartz is a pioneer in its rApp. The development laboratories are already working on glasses that can display AR - even further afield, it may even be contact lenses.
Virtual Reality

Piecing together multimedia mixed reality situations after only one form of media was documented.

Mixed Reality


Trust and execution are a part of the keystones of the industry itself. I’d argue whether blockchain, smart contracts or 5G — new technologies can only progress those two commodities. Technology most impactful on Journalism hold anonymity, trust, and pace to be the center of progress. Radio, pagers, smartphones direct pace of information where general collaborative software and smart contracts to encrypted messaging regulate how business is carried out online and a new mobile Internet standard.


Security through transparency: Blockchain is considered one of the great hopes in online journalism. The publishers hope for new ways of interacting with their readers, they hope for greater reach and that technology will help to solve the problem of financing journalism on the Internet. The American business magazine Forbes is starting to send metadata of texts to a blockchain, where it is permanently archived and can no longer be changed by third parties. This should enable journalists to assert themselves again as experts in certain areas in order to regain credibility. The idea is in the room that new target groups can be reached and sustainable digital journalism can emerge. Data that is stored in a blockchain can no longer be changed because it is stored in an identical form on countless computers. The first startup to cause a sensation in this area is Civil. You would like to realize journalism with the help of blockchain and have even sought an ICO for this purpose, which has been stopped for the time being due to a lack of participation.

Startups: RIP https://civil.co/

Smart Contracts

Smart contracts are intended to break up and dismantle bureaucratic structures. These contracts are based on blockchain technology and therefore work in a similar way to cryptocurrencies. A contractual regulation is written down as a code that follows a simple pattern: "If-Then". If a requirement set out in the code is met, a contractual clause automatically comes into force. What lawyers have been doing up to now - namely making sure that contracts are kept - will soon be done by blockchain. There is no longer any need for an intermediary. The hope: less bureaucracy, easier business processes, higher contract security. So far, Etherum has been ahead in the development of smart contracts.


What we take for granted today will no longer exist in the future. Smartphones, for example. Even if everyone is still equipped with one - or even several - of these devices, it will soon be replaced by other technical achievements. Futurologist Amy Webb believes that this not only changes the way we communicate, but also how we consume media.

There are already the first signs that the smartphone could soon have outlived itself.




Smart watches are mostly useful at capturing the user's attention through push messages. Of course, this also changes a lot on the Internet. Websites can now be specially adapted to the needs of smartwatch wearers.

Voice Assistants

Journalists all over the world are working on how to use 30 million smart speakers sold to bring news and information to the people. The idea behind this is that it is much easier for many users to interact with content they hear than with what they read. The control of the devices should make navigation through the Internet easier. Theoretically. In practice it doesn't work so well. The big question now is above all: How should dialogues for voice assistants be designed? How well do Alexa & Co understand our human dialogues?

Neural Interaction Design


The mantra of the digital media world has long been: users don't pay for journalism. Many subscription strategies are showing that it might work after all. After the industry's network has once pulled the rug out from under its feet, most of the major media companies are now rethinking. It can be summarized as follows: Journalistic work has its price and we should ask for money for it.

In addition to the large paywalls, there are countless other types of monetization: Micro payment, some blogs also try to earn money through crowdfunding. But: It seems that what was considered impossible for a long time will prevail. Nevertheless, the industry is still trying to make money through other channels.

Advertising is and will remain a way of funding content. Forms of advertising are also becoming more and more diverse - and above all more technical.


For a long time there was no other means than advertising to earn money with journalistic content on the Internet - and even that only worked moderately. As in the music scene, a free culture has established itself for content, and users are only gradually rethinking. The problem: What cannot be financed cannot be produced expensively, so the quality of the content fell online, and a lot was simply copied from the print. But that is also changing right now. Many media houses are becoming active - and they are getting creative, both in payment models and in the distribution of resources for digital projects. There are now various payment models that are adapted to the needs of the users and that allow quality to be delivered online.

Micro Payments

Micro payment is the possibility of paying on the smallest possible basis. So no longer spend four dollars for the whole newspaper or take out a monthly subscription, but pay a few cents for the individual article or contribution that you actually read. The idea behind it works similarly to iTunes. You only buy what you really like.

Laterpay is a startup that makes micropayment possible.

Blendle, like Spotify, there are offers from many publishers for end users.

Spiegel Online started its pay model with Laterpay, which is now also used by the Boston Globe.


Def: The paywall is a way of financing journalistic content on the Internet.

Hard paywalls: all content is behind the payment barrier.

Soft paywalls: aka the “freemium model”, where only some content is chargeable.

Metered paywall: where a certain number of articles per month are free or the donation model.

Note: Some media companies have almost completely hidden their content behind a paywall, for example, the startup Substack. Others have none at all. For example, The New York times has a certain number of articles that are freely accessible. If the user has exhausted this quota, they must pay.

Many European models rely on fremium models.


While journalism was not only financed through advertising on the Internet for a long time, the trend is now going in a different direction. Because: A large part of the advertising budget flows more and more past the media houses directly into the coffers of Facebook or Google. Many media struggled with payment limits for a long time, as their readers were used for a long time to the fact that their content was available free of charge on the Internet. As the “Welt” noted in 2013, the expected flight of readers failed to materialize. The result is that there are now many digital subscription models. A lot is happening internationally too. The New York Times offers different subscriptions with different packages. The Washington Post tries something similar. There are currently first attempts to develop payment models via the blockchain. This should make the interaction of the user with the medium more secure and at the same time improve the quality of the content.



With digitization and new technologies, journalism is changing rapidly. With new devices, stories can be told in new ways and information can be brought to users via new channels. This opens up completely new markets for media companies, they are suddenly in competition with others from abroad and are faced with ever faster developments. With China, a giant has emerged from the shadows that is rapidly driving technical innovations.

There is also room for more international newsroom/media collaboration. There are publications that specialize in a certain field internationally as they do in the US. An example of an innovative company is Contxto.


Journalism is largely financed by advertising. That was always so. The Internet has shaken this advertising market upside down - and at the same time created many new ways in which media and advertisers can find each other and how they can reach their audiences in a personalized way. This has the potential to continuously improve the content of advertising and only reach those who are actually interested in the products of an advertising brand. But there is still hesitation in the combining of journalistic and advertising content.

Ad Blocking

Many readers block advertisements in their browsers with ad blockers. This destroys the advertising market on media sites, but is understandable when the thirteenth blinking banner is placed over the text. Google started blocking ads in the Chrome browser. Google controls over 40 percent of the advertising market and its browser, Chrome, has a market power of 50 percent. This causes huge losses for many who depend on advertising to finance their content. Incidentally, Google is not the only Internet giant that has started to block advertising - Apple is also blocking the possibility of collecting data in its iOS browser that is important for tracking users and displaying advertising.

NYT announced this year they will end using third-party cookies .

Content Marketing

For more than 100 years, companies have been creating stories about their products in order to reach their target groups. And they place them within journalistic products. “The Furrow” has been published since 1895. It is the first customer-oriented magazine - and it still exists. With the Internet, the world of content marketing has changed radically. Startups try to place the content of advertisers in the content of the media houses. The most prominent provider is, for example, Outbrain.

Voice Advertisement

Pandora radio is dominating the B2B voice interaction front with their Voice Mode. These ads require for your to speak in order for the ad to continue. Other examples include ads that turn on your personal devices with a "Hey Siri" or "Hey Alexa" or "Hey Google".

Native Advertising

Strong emphasis on internal product marketing within company's MVP.

Influencer Marketing

In order to make content public, be it on blogs, for brands or for media houses, many resort to influencer marketing. A brand ambassador with many followers on social media brings a company's messages to the right target group. But how do brands and influencers find each other? There are a lot of tools that help to find the right face for your own campaign, such as InfluencerDB, BuzzSumo or Influma.

Programmed Display

Automated display of advertising, tailored to the user - in real time. This is programmatic advertising. As a rule, this individualization of the advertising space takes place via an auction process in which the user relevance is analyzed and the highest bidder is then awarded the contract. It happens in milliseconds.

In the future, programmatic advertising will gain in importance beyond the Internet and become important in the marketing of radio, video and TV formats.

This invites a playground for new startups. One of the pioneers in programmatic advertising on the part of media houses is the American website vox.com. The company has created its own marketplace for advertising, guaranteeing that relevant advertising content is displayed. Vox's Real-Time display.

Shop-able TV

Shopable TV is when ads have QR codes that viewers can interact with. NBC

Individual Employee Brand Alignment

In television, writing a charecter to have aligned with a product/service as a plot point.

As a news media, similar to Morning Brew in how each of their contributors maintains a certain brand alignment and their content can interact with other brands that are partnered with their employment.

Accessable Advertisement


Constructive Journalism

Constructive Journalism is the approach of not only telling the problems in news, but also showing a solution. Even with gloomy topics, an aspect should be pointed out that gives rise to hope. However, it is not always that easy to find stories that actually already have solutions. Not only in large media companies experiment with constructive approaches.


Podcasts are the new trend medium. They grew up in niches, now they reach the middle of society. Knowledge-sharing narratives and news formats are particularly popular. Two thirds of the listeners get the on-demand formats, which are provided in the various podcast apps, via their phones.

Part of the hype are smart speakers such as Alexa and Google Home, which are predestined for podcast consumption. The podcast market is still highly fragmented. Public broadcasters produce podcasts, as do private broadcasters.

Data-Driven Journalism

Data journalism has been around for years, in 2009 the Guardian launched its data log. Since then, there have been more and more formats and attempts to tell stories using data and to find stories in data. Election analyzes are described using data journalistic approaches. Where does who vote? And how? The New York Times offers an example of this again and again after the US elections. Social analyzes are also increasingly being carried out on the basis of data.

Conversational Journalism

Conversational Journalism was the attempt to bring news to readers via a simple chat interface. This chat interface was partially integrated into existing apps such as WhatsApp, Messenger or WeChat. There were also their own apps, such as the now discontinued Newsbot app RESI or an app from Quartz that has also been discontinued. :( The basic idea behind the idea was that whoever sends the news doesn't have to be human. A bot or an AI does it too. Only one thing is important: that it is a chat.

The New York Times Election Slack bot was one such approach. All you had to do was enter / asknytelection at Slack, and the NYT had the answer. The experiments with chatbots in journalism have so far failed to meet expectations: the possibilities for interaction were too limited, and the simulated conversation was too complex (for users and artificial intelligence). Many of these experiments were therefore soon terminated. The Quartz Bot Studio still exists.



More and more media content is videos. The reason for this is that today almost everyone has a device in their pocket that they can play them on: a smartphone. As always, when there is a new device, the content will be adapted to it at some point. Vertical videos in the format 9:16 are replacing the classic 16: 9 video format on smartphones, and stories that delete themselves after 24 hours reach millions with their content.

Vertical Video

“Vertical Video Syndrome” is what some say disparagingly. Why? Because there are many who don't like vertical videos. Probably because they're not used to it. The phenomenon that a video is no longer shot in landscape format is still relatively new. Snapchat was the first to consistently rely on it, with the Instagram Stories and now IGTV, Vertical Video is becoming more and more popular. The reason is simple, the images are adapted to a currently common medium: the smartphone. While some think vertical videos are the end of all aesthetics, others celebrate it as a revolution in digital imagery, see completely new channels of how media deliver their content to us and, above all, the advantages of digital marketing. What is certain is that Vertical Video is currently turning our viewing habits properly across, uh, upright.

Instagram Video

Instagram stories are part of every good media strategy today. Why? Because more than 200 million people use stories. Every day. So it's worth thinking about using this new feature to reach new audiences. The story function was actually pioneered by Snapchat, which experienced a huge hype in 2016. Facebook then followed suit and installed a story function on all three platforms, Instagram, Facebook and Whatsapp, in a very short time. Currently it is mainly used on Instagram, neither Facebook nor WhatsApp really have many story users. The good thing about stories for media houses: Even users who don't follow a particular medium can still find the stories on Instagram using the discover function - also because stories can now be tagged with a hashtag. That can make your own appearance much more powerful than before. Stories offer media even more advantages, one of which is, for example, that you can insert an external link. The good thing about the Facebook clone: The competencies that media houses have built up in terms of vertical video and current production for Snapchat can now be used 1 to 1 for Instagram.


Instagram is causing a sensation. There are voices asking whether the network belonging to Facebook could overtake YouTube in terms of video - with Instagram TV. The one billion users of Instagram have been able to access the new feature for some time. IGTV works like a TV broadcaster and enables users to upload videos of up to 60 minutes in length. It is exciting that Instagram is radically relying on the smartphone as a platform with the new video app. So: Videos in portrait instead of landscape. In addition to the focus on portrait format videos, IGTV relies fully on the streaming experience. Videos are started automatically and you can only search for users and not for their specific content. Extra 3 or Jan Böhmermann use IGTV to reach new target groups. For Instagram, the launch of the new app is a further step towards influencer marketing channel.




The EU is reforming copyright law. Sounds trivial, but it isn't. The innovations could change how we communicate with one another online, how we quote content and we share it. As with any discussion, there is another side. Because the new laws are supposed to guarantee that internet giants like Google or Facebook pay cultural workers or the media. In addition, the so-called upload filters should be used, which check during the upload whether the object to be uploaded is protected by copyright. Many are also critical of the ancillary copyright. This ensures that providers like Google are no longer allowed to distribute headlines in the future. The critics see this as a kind of link tax and see the free exchange of information on the Internet at risk.

Europe's GDPR

The General Data Protection Regulation, GDPR, regulates how private companies and public bodies must handle personal data. Its purpose is to ensure that data within the European Union are on the one hand well protected and on the other hand can still be used in such a way that they can be used within the internal market of the EU. Since May 25, 2018, all EU states have had to adhere to this regulation. That meant a lot of changes for everyone who is online. For the media too. For users of web content, the GDPR means that they have more rights and more self-determination about what can happen to their personal data. The regulation also focuses on understanding what happens to the data collected online. But that also has disadvantages, especially for companies. Because they have to ensure that nothing happens to the data that is not GDPR-compliant. Personal data may now only be collected for a specified purpose, and certainly not passed on. In addition, companies are required to collect as little data as possible. In addition, you now have to document what data you collect for what and what happens to it. Of course, this also applies to the data that the media collect in order to improve their offering.