WITH the rise of online news and the social media, print journalists have learned how to adjust to fast-changing times.

Most newspapers now have their online sites where they could easily post breaking news and thus cater to the fast-growing population of netizens.

Undoubtedly, the Internet has been a great help for journalists to become more effective.

And with the widening presence of the social media, news reports whether on print or online may be better disseminated. To be sure, they can easily gain attention through the dynamics of the social media—contributing to public information, shaping public opinion and fostering healthy public debates on national and international concerns.

At present, 44.2 million Filipinos use the Internet and 90 percent of this figure have their own social media accounts.

With timeliness as one of the key elements of news, it is the duty of journalists to cascade the news to their readers as soon as the story takes place. This is why more and more newspapers are adopting the “digital-first” strategy. The Varsitarian, the foremost campus paper in the Philippines, has taken such approach.

Employing this strategy, news articles are first released online and later published—in more thoughtful and more comprehensive form—on print.

For years, the world of reporting has been held within a cycle—to write the news and expect its publication tomorrow, a week, or a few weeks later.

But now, the story is told and reported as it unfolds or as it has just unfolded.

Of course, if there is one thing that journalists know about, that is, the news cannot wait.

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The news needs to get out as soon as possible to retain its freshness, essence and relevance.

Thus, the digital-first policy is the key toward fulfilling such a demand.

With the digital world becoming a widespread platform with almost no space and reach constraints, stories can be written no matter how short or long they may be.

The online media is also tool to make the news in a more interactive and comprehensive way, so that several links and related stories can be included and put in a single news article.

This new strategy is also multi-faceted since it can facilitate any attachments such as photograph, video and graphics, which may be necessary for news articles to be better understood and appreciated.

Websites and social media pages of newspapers are also not hard to monitor.

In fact, daily statistics can be accessed by the newspapers’ online facilitators to determine the number of people who have viewed and read every single article, and how many online users have visited the newspaper websites and their related social media accounts.

As chief technology officer of the British Guardian, Tanya Cordrey, said in 2013, embracing digital is the only way for media organizations to survive.

Despite this great leap, journalists should still make that every article they publish online is of great quality and the result of responsible journalism.

The biggest challenge will always be how to beat the deadline, but being the first one to break a scoop will never be worth it if the story will be written out of haste rather than careful construction.

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What is needed these days is to have a proper mix of the new media and the traditional ways of responsible journalism.

Having the imperative to release the news to the online public as fast as possible must not mean that journalists will no longer apply the traditional ways of verifying the facts and interviewing multiple and credible sources. It should not mean setting aside the strenuous editing process.

With a wider audience reach online, it must be a prerogative for news publications not to make mistakes because a single error can easily create confusion and disturbance in just a few minutes—or even seconds.

Being a journalist of this era is challenging more than ever. Sometimes, journalists may think about abandoning the traditional way of publishing newspapers because of what the online media can offer—having no constraints.

Journalists should realize that these same constraints are the same reasons why printed newspapers shall and will remain relevant.

With the heavy online news traffic every day, readers may have the tendency to be buried under the flood of information. However, with the help of the printed newspapers, information and stories are significantly filtered.

The gate-keeping function of the news media should remain.

Both print and online media have their own advantages and disadvantages and it is just up to us, journalists, how to make the two work in a complementary way, not only for our benefit but also for the benefit of the audiences that we serve.

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