Understanding the Difference between Online and Traditional Journalism

Many people struggle with whether there really is a difference between online and traditional journalism. For some, the only difference comes from the medium through which the final articles will come out. While one depends on the online space, the other has different avenues such as magazines and newspapers. However, those within the industry say that there is a significant difference between the two. We will explore the differences in our article below.

·       The Hook Matters

One thing the online journalist has working against him is the fact that the online reader has so many articles to read. In traditional media, if you buy a newspaper, your attention is only limited to what is within the paper. However, in the online space, you can type in a keyword and come up with so many similar stories. You also have to contend with a very short attention span of whoever is on the online platform. Research indicates that very few people will actually finish reading a particular article on the online space. The same is not true for someone who, for example, is reading a magazine or newspaper. The probability of reading a whole article in the latter is higher than for that person who is in the online space. The online journalist, therefore, has to hook the writer in from the very first paragraph. It means that you must be able to put all the information you want the reader to get within a maximum of the first and second paragraphs.


·       You Must Pay Attention to the Length of the Stories

The length of the stories really matters when you are writing for the online space. We go back to our original point of the attention span, or anyone in the online space is extremely short. It could be boredom or the fact that you have so many resources that you cannot spend too much time on one. We cannot say for sure why online readers seem to have such erratic attention, but that is the reality. It is, therefore, very rare to find anyone reading multiple pages on an online article. Unless, of course, it is a research paper that requires them to do it. The reverse is true for someone who is using traditional Media. Many people will buy a newspaper when they want to relax on a Saturday or Sunday. You will find them reading the paper from cover to cover. The online journalist must, therefore, capture all the relevant content in the shortest way possible. Most of the pieces should ideally be no more than 1000 words long. Read More About,    Shopify Themes.  

 Journalists rely on different sources of information for their stories. Those who work for traditional media face very stringent rules with regard to the information they can put in their stories. They must be very keen on details, especially concerning statistics or what someone has said. It is, therefore, not uncommon to see a traditional journalist record interviews in case the interviewee refutes some of the information. It is especially stringent for some Industries such as business, finance, technology, science, among others. Those who are in entertainment or more informal sectors, such as gossip magazines, tend to be less formal with their sourcing requirements.

Online journalist, however, seems to have a little more leeway with their information sourcing. More often than not, they can give their opinions and write stories from their perspective. They also get to use hyperlinks, thus placing the onus on the reader to do a little more research if they so wish. However, we are in no way saying that online journalists do not apply the same level of professionalism when writing their articles. It comes down to the discipline and dedication to get the right information before publishing it on the online platform.

·       Real-Time Feedback

 The online journalist has to contend with real-time feedback from the readers. A story that went up 20 minutes ago will probably already have quite a bit of reaction. The readers can comment, point out errors, critique, among others. The advantage is that the online journalist can make changes immediately if he or she is an agreement with what the readers are saying. 

Traditional journalism,  however, does not allow for that. The readers will send in their feedback, the editor, together with the journalist, will go through it before deciding on the way forward. They can then publish the reader’s input or not. In case they have to retract the statement, it will have to go into the next edition. The point is, the process is more involving and tedious when it comes to traditional media. They must, therefore, be very keen about what they publish and must work harder to prove the credibility of the information.

·       Getting Your Story Published

The traditional media will require that a journalist pitches a story, after which the editor will consider it and then give the go-ahead or not. The same is true for online journalism, but the process is not as tedious on the latter. However, both journalists must have a good understanding of what they want to write about and be able to convince the editor. 


 It depends on who you are working for and what kind of contract you have managed to negotiate in both cases. Online journalists, however, have the option of working for many outlets, and may, in the long run, make more money than traditional journalists. 


 We have shared with you a few differences between traditional and online journalism. Both jobs are incredibly satisfying if you love what you do. You must be able to write great articles so that you can get to interact with your readers at whatever platform you have. So the digital space is bridging the gap between traditional and online journalists. Even those who work for traditional media now communicate with readers online. You will also find that traditional media houses have an online presence. They will publish their articles online, thus giving the writers more visibility. 

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