Exclusive: How To Be A Journalist In The Digital Era With Shiulie Ghosh
The birth of the 24-hour news cycle forever changed traditional journalistic practices and as digital platforms continue to take precedence, journalism is still struggling to establish its place in modern society.
In the eye of this media storm is Shiulie Ghosh. Working as a presenter and correspondent for the BBC in 1990, ITV in 1998, and Al Jazeera as a News Anchor in 2006, Shiulie witnessed the dramatic digital transformation first-hand. Now a published author, speaker, moderator, and the founder of her own media production company, Shiulie uses her decades of experience to discuss the evolution of journalism, and how to succeed in the digital era.
Stay relevant, stay interesting
To keep up with the demands of the modern world, it is crucial journalists continually evolve to stay on trend and make use of the latest technologies.
With the digitisation of news giving rise to clickbait and fast news, Shiulie believes the way to achieve high engagement in the 21st Century is simple, “you need to be interesting”.
“That's why clickbait works so well, because it captures attention and makes you want to find out more.
“We have to consider and be aware of the fact audience attention spans can be shorter, and so you have a much shorter space of time to grab someone's attention. The news and media industry must learn to be more punchy, more relatable, and more engaging to get everyone on board.
“That's not to say - I should hasten to add - that there isn't a place for deeper and more in-depth analysis of issues - people still want that and need to know where to get that from. But I do think that as an industry, we have to learn how to be more interesting to grab audience attention right from the start.”
There is a place for opinion
Previously, impartiality has defined journalistic practice, but with fake news on the rise and spreading like wildfire, Shiulie believes there is a now place for opinion to stamp out falsehoods in modern media.
“If you'd asked me if journalists have a place commenting opinion at the beginning of my career, I would have said, ‘absolutely not, a journalists’ opinion should not colour a piece, and impartiality is one of the cornerstones of journalism’.
“But as I've got older, and also as the atmosphere of fake news and hyperbole has increased, as well as the advent of social media where anyone can post anything, I think it's quite incumbent sometimes that journalists make sure to set the records straight.
“If that means calling someone out for a ridiculous point of view, I'm all for it. I mean, if someone is telling me in all sincerity that the COVID-19 vaccine is simply a ploy to implant microchips under your skin, I'm not going to treat that as a valid point of view! I'm going to say, ‘actually, that is ridiculous’. So, I think there is a place for that now and my opinion on that has changed somewhat.
“Particularly in this era where we have so much misinformation, I think it's really important that we do try and put the record straight as much as possible.”
Embrace diversity and inclusion
In light of the civil rights protests in 2020, diversity and inclusion are at the forefront of many minds as companies work to create a more wholesome, accepting workplace.
With diverse leadership and inclusive teams improving employee engagement, leading to higher profits and growth projections, Shiulie calls for diversity and inclusion to be embraced in every industry.
“I wish there was no need for those terms. I wish that we were at a point where diversity and inclusion were relegated to the vaults of history because there is no fun in being labelled as a diversity hire, which is something I've had the dubious pleasure of having in my past.
“But I think as things stand now, we are in a situation where companies still need to make sure that they are wholly inclusive and representative. It is important that companies and businesses represent the communities they're serving, and a lot of the time they aren't.
“I think the gold standard is a company where all ethnicities, all genders, and all backgrounds are represented - and we're still a long way from that.
“As we go forward companies should have diversity and inclusion as part of their recruitment policies, as companies with diverse leadership do better. It's a matter of record that companies with diverse leadership, for a start, have better profits. They think outside the box, they are better at problem-solving, and at creative thinking. This isn't just me saying it, there have been studies done that prove this.
“The real question should be, ‘why wouldn't a company be more diverse?’, because it is just better for the company.”
Become a trustworthy source
As journalism continues to chop and change, and with social media giving everyone a platform for opinion, the debate surrounding the future of journalism persists.
Shiulie shares her view on journalisms’ place in modern society.
“News evolves and journalism changes and adapts to reflect that. Journalism has now moved onto all kinds of platforms, virtual platforms, digital platforms, social media, news on demand.
“People now ask, ‘do we need journalists?’, because now everybody can be a journalist, we can all just put something on Twitter or give an opinion about something on social media.
“But I passionately believe we do still need journalists because we need news which is properly assessed, curated, editorially judged, and is provided by a trustworthy source.
“I think people who care about what's real in this world will always try and get their news from a trustworthy source, and so that is what journalists should continue to provide.”
Make the most of it!
Reflecting on her own successful career in such a demanding, fast-paced industry, Shiulie advises others to pause and take stock of the experience, and their successes.
“If I could give any advice to my younger self now, I'd tell myself to slow down a little bit and just look around occasionally to see the amazing places that I've been to and reflect on the amazing things I've done because of my career.
“When I was young, I was so focused on getting the story, fighting the competition, beating deadlines, it all became a blur of different countries and different stories.
“I wish I could’ve just smelt the roses occasionally and just thought, ‘wow, I'm here, It's amazing’.”
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