Today’s editorial landscape must change rapidly to keep up with the huge technological shifts that drive the way we consume news. Basic changes to the way audiences read the news and surf the web impact everyone from readers to writers, editors and newsroom managers to brand founders and startup entrepreneurs.
The increasing usage of mobile technology like smartphones and wearables means that people get their information while on-the-go instead of spread over the morning newspapers or even on-screen at their desktops. Meanwhile, live streaming and on-demand models have driven audiences to grow accustomed to information that is updated in real time - when they want it, where they want it. Big data, personalization algorithms, and behavior tracking mean readers don’t have to sift through every single newswire or scour the web; newsfeeds must be tailored to the reader’s interests and history. Social media has become a behemoth of content production, transforming the public’s attention span and their expectations around reporting, journalism, and facts.
As technology shifts the way we read the news and receive information, the way we make and distribute those media must also shift. Innovations like artificial intelligence and machine learning have become an increasingly important part of editorial teams, empowering publishers to keep tech savvy media consumers satisfied. “How do I take this story and make it really useful for someone who’s on their phone?” asked Anthony De Rosa from the news app Circa in the Wall Street Journal. “I think the newsroom itself has to take that information and synthesize it in a different way, and produce it in a different format.”
Newsroom and editorial strategists from mainstream publishers to content offices supporting brands and businesses are finding that their survival depends on their ability to adapt. Those that adapt are reinventing traditional takes on newsroom and editorial teams to cater specifically to the trend towards tech-driven media consumption. Here are six new job titles predicted for the newsroom of the future:
1. Growth Editor
In today’s fast-paced, technology-enhanced world, the most successful print and digital publishing companies are able to constantly reinvent themselves and adapt on the fly, and flourish in entirely new ways. One of the main ways this adaptation takes place is through a push to cultivate broader, more engaged readership. This type of growth-focused editorial position will be dedicated to curating and producing content that promotes readership metrics like subscriptions, clicks, likes, and reads. Growth Editors are still editors first and foremost, but in the newsroom of the future their editorial duties will also be dedicated to placing the right content in the hands of the right readers at the right time, driving traffic to their stories and growing their audience through every available channel.
2. Platform Wrangler/Distributed Content Editor
For some time now, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat have served as important avenues for news producers to share their stories and the content they make. But more recently, these third-party social platforms have come to play an increasingly visible role in the content production process. As readers and customers continue to rely on their smartphones and tablets for news, information, and connectivity, many people find and read their news exclusively through third-party platforms. Distributed Content Editors will work as a combination of traditional editors and platform wranglers, cultivating content optimized for each individual platform while also maintaining healthy relationships with third-party representatives.
3. Story Scientist
This role spotlights a highly data-focused approach to journalism. Whether the Story Scientist is also doing the reporting and writing or is applying his or her skills to stories submitted by other staff members in the newsroom, the analytical component here is key. Viral hits can make or break a publisher, and in today’s media landscape, “going viral” doesn’t have to be a guessing game. Analyzing huge data stores made available through web publishing illuminates the habits and behaviors of a readership, not to mention tangential information through business partners and third-party data tied to social media platforms and news apps. Story Scientists will be responsible for positioning top quality content more than generating news pieces outright, optimizing everything from story angles and formatting to headlines and publishing times.
4. Ad Innovator
Advertising is everywhere, but advertising is not always well-received. Perhaps because of the ubiquity of ads today, customers are getting wise to the high-tech strategies that advertisers use to get eyes on their products. Meanwhile, traffic-driven success for web publishers has become increasingly difficult thanks to market saturation and the sheer number of options available to readers. Native advertising and sponsored content have developed into notable players in the publishing world, and finding ways for that type of paid-for content to be effective and enjoyable without compromising on user experience will fall into the domain of an Ad Innovator. This role should straddle the space between an advertiser’s goals and a publication’s duty to its own mission, and, moreover, to its readership.
5. Bot Developer
Artificial intelligence has permeated virtually every industry, and is becoming an increasingly prevalent part of newsrooms as robots become capable of writing complete news articles. Some newsrooms will employ Bot Developers to build the AI that churns out written journalism, while others will charge Bot Developers with building more interaction-focused projects. Bots can be used for everything from customer conversations to customization services, from fun chatbots to actual platform functionality. And while traditional editors often screen and edit bots’ output, especially in the case of reported journalism, it will be up to Bot Developers to improve the technology to the point where robots are improving user experience, learning proactively, and getting smarter (without going rogue).
6. Automation Editor
As more and more automated content creation tools are implemented into newsrooms, a large chunk of editors' day-to-day busy work and tedious production processes will be taken care of - so they'll have time to wear a lot more hats. And now that AI is able to automate everything from video to graphics to music, they'll also have a much larger skillset to work with. Automation Editors will no longer be responsible for a single type of content, be that written or visual. Instead, they will work hand-in-hand with automated tools in order to tell their stories in as many ways as possible. Of course, this position is less of a prediction than an observation - we already have a team of Automation Editors working in-house!