Online Publications: How to Get Noticed

I have a confession to make. I love print media. I love browsing through a magazine or book and being able to flip the pages and feel that lovely touch on my fingertips. I love the nostalgia of holding a classic piece of literature in my hands and being able to close the cover and feel the weight as I turn the pages. I love the act of researching a topic and writing an article about it, whether it’s a lifestyle piece or in-depth analysis of the economy. I love the feeling of pride that comes with knowing that my hard work has paid off and that others are now able to learn from my expertise.

While I realize that there are benefits to reading digital content, I don’t love jumping from one medium to another. It’s 2017 and we’re already seeing the disruption of entire industries as a result of constant evolution and innovation. The line between print and online publications is clearly blurred and, for the most part, I’d like to keep it that way.

What is an online publication?

Simply put, it’s when a journalist publishes content on the web rather than using traditional print or broadcast methods. The lines are definitely blurred. Case in point, Nate Silver, who produced the excellent 2015 documentary The New York Times Presents: The Rise of Math & Statistical Journalism, which examines the increasing role that data and statistics play in our media. Silver’s expertise in polling, electoral analysis, and probability were essential in determining the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. With the 2020 U.S. presidential election just around the corner, Silver’s analyses will be vital in helping voters make informed decisions.

Why should you consider becoming an online publication?

The field is growing and there are plenty of opportunities for journalists with experience in traditional formats to transition into an online role. If you’re looking for flexibility and you enjoy writing, you could definitely see yourself succeeding as an online journalist. You might also want to think about this path as a way to gain more exposure in a potentially lucrative career. Last but not least, many traditional outlets are now recruiting and promoting from within their ranks, so it’s a great opportunity to snag an editorial role if you’re looking for a change of pace.

The Biggest Disruption Has Begun

Over the past few years, we’ve seen the biggest disruption to hit the media industry and it goes by the name of the “global reach boom.” Essentially, this is when more and more people want to access information about the world around them, whether it’s through news or entertainment sources, and publishers must adapt to ensure they can reach as many people as possible.

Here’s a brief guide to explain what’s going on and how you can best position yourself for career growth.

The Rise Of Citizen Journalists

In the past, the lines between journalists and bloggers were clearly delineated. While bloggers often simply “reported” on news stories for traditional media companies, journalists were traditionally employed by news organizations and often had some sort of formal education in “traditional” journalism. Now, however, the lines are blurred as people are seeing their ability to disseminate information as an extension of their journalism. Take, for example, Maayan Kelty, a 20-something journalist from Israel who recently published an in-depth analysis of “fake news” and its dangers in an article for The New York Times Magazine. Kelty’s skill in using social media to track down useful information coupled with her curiosity about “fake news” and ability to recognize spin made her the ideal candidate to explore the topic in-depth. What’s more is that Kelty is not a stranger to pitching stories to news organizations, having previously worked for The Associated Press in Yerevan, Armenia as a freelancer. This kind of hybrid working arrangement, where journalists are employing online platforms to publish content and reach audiences, is becoming more and more commonplace.

More And More People Are Reading

When I graduated college, one of the first jobs I got was as a copy editor at an urban lifestyle magazine. At the time, our editorial team was fairly small and I was the only journalist on staff. We got along really well and it was a real pleasure to work with my colleagues, many of whom are now successful journalists in their own right.

Fast forward a few years and I find myself in a similar role, but for a big-name business publication. It’s not just about the paycheck, either. I genuinely enjoy what I do and being able to read an excellent script by Jay Ellis is really satisfying.

More Than Meets The Eye

If you’ve been following my career, you’ll know that I often write about the intersection of media, technology, and culture. In a lot of ways, this “new era of journalism” that we’re in right now is the culmination of a lot of the trends and developments I’ve been writing about for years. I’ve always described my career as a “journalist-in-training,” and the past few years have just proven how right I was. This kind of shift is inevitable as new media channels emerge and “old” media platforms evolve to accommodate new audiences and methods of engagement.

Where Do I Pitch My Story?

This is a question I get asked a lot and I think it’s a really important one. Unfortunately, the answer is not as straightforward as you might think. While it’s great to have a broad overview of the industry and know what platforms exist, the truth is that each outlet is going to be looking for something a little bit different. If you’re passionate about a certain topic, use that to your advantage. Instead of just sending them a generic pitch, take the time to tailor your pitch to their needs. This might mean expanding on a topic you’ve covered in the past or using examples from your work to showcase your expertise.

The important thing is to keep pitching. Even if you don’t get the opportunity to write for the publication you want to work for, someone else might. By continuing to send out your pitch, you’re showing that you’re dedicated to your craft and that you’re willing to prove your worth time and time again. It’s not about the immediate result, either, as there’s a lot of competition out there and the best chance of landing that coveted role is through “traditional” methods. That doesn’t mean that SEO isn’t important, however. In a world where “fake news” is rampant, the best way to distinguish yourself from the crowd is through a well-researched and well-written story that draws in a “digital” audience. Good luck out there.