What is a digital journalist? Towards a DJ manifesto

Bizarrely (to those of us focussed on online development, anyway) we often find that new journalists join us with much the same bias towards print journalism as many of the "old school".

It led a gang of us to wonder whether when recruiting new talent we should start advertising all journalist roles as "digital journalists". Although most people work across print and online here, the "digital" prefix might help to shift perceptions for new recruits and, indeed, for recruiters.

That led us naturally to suppose we had better start writing down ideas about what a digital journalist is and does (or at least will be and will do).

Clearly "digital" need not alter everything involved in journalism - news values and skills are arguably mostly untouched (truth, the ability to tell a story, interviewing skills and so on).

But I've been dwelling on how a digital journalist might reasonably be distinguished from a traditional journalist.

So here - without further ado - is my first draft Digital Journalism Manifesto:

the digital journalist can distinguish which elements of a story are best told through which media - words, pictures, video, audio, charts

the digital beat-journalist participates in his or her beat community through forums, blogs, microblogging etc.

the digital journalist uses tools such as RSS feeds to monitor emerging news

the digital journalist may also use tools such as RSS feeds to share emerging news with other people

the digital journalist is not afraid to link to other people's websites

the digital journalist's instinct is to publish news as soon as it happens, not to sit on it to fill next week's front page.

the digital journalist has a duty to provide good user experience to his/her readers by linking to further information.

the digital journalist can touch type (ha ha ha), take a half-decent digital photograph and point and shoot a video camera if required.

the digital journalist never goes anywhere without a laptop (or some means of submitting material)

the digital journalist knows how to find wi-fi hotspots

the digital journalist willingly (and legally) embeds other people's content (e.g. YouTube videos, Flickr photos, other suitable licensed Creative Commons materials) into his/her story

the digital journalist happily joins in online conversations resulting from his/her article

the digital journalist can use a range of web tools (including microblogging and social media) to develop stories.

the digital journalist can probably cobble a half decent video together and upload it

the digital journalist (often publishing without the safety net of sub-editors and editors) has an excellent knowledge of media law (especially libel)

the digital journalist (often publishing without the safety net of sub-editors and editors) can spell (or use a spell checker) and string a sentence together

the digital journalist almost certainly has at least one professional blog

Goodness knows what the union would say. I hasten to add that these are just personal thoughts off the top of my head and all completely unofficial.

Any ideas for the Second Draft?


Digital Journalism, Digital Composition


In his "What is a Digital Journalist? Towards a DJ Manifesto," Andrew Rodgers attempts to define the skills a journalist needs in order to call oneself a 'digital journalist.'


Andrew Rodgers (Posted by 'Andrew Orange')






February 28, 2008




Digital Composition


Digital Composition, Digital Journalism