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Ask Sarah 1 — The New Media


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): Medium (Humanist Voices)

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2018/10/12

Sarah Mills is a Managing Editor and Writer at Conatus News, as well as a writer at Areo Magazine, Huffington Post, Litro Magazine, and Culture Project. We have been colleagues for well over a year now. I reached out about garnering some intel, some insider information, on writing and editing within the new media, especially as a journalist. Here we talk about the new media and navigation of the modern terrain.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: The new media presents a unique set of challenges for people involved in journalism and electronic dissemination of news and opinion, whether editing or writing. How can newer editors and writers navigate this terrain?

Sarah Mills: One of the biggest challenges is the sheer number of outlets vying for public attention–and receiving it. In the digital era, we’ve seen countless outlets spring up to challenge traditional media, with varying results. Many consumers treat them as legitimate sources of information when they fail to uphold the code of ethics that standard news outlets are held to. They use biased or charged language and lie by omission, and their stories are picked up and shared across social media by influencers. With the rise of citizen journalism in the digital era, anyone can go to an event, upload a video, and see it go viral. This is not altogether a bad thing, depending on who is holding the camera and what his or her intentions are. But it has resulted in mass scepticism of traditional media sources. While scepticism is a good thing, users on social media often share stories based on whom they are following, often without even reading the article itself or checking the source. Writers and editors must be diligent to always trace back sources, trace back the money, and counter the spread of misinformation when the epithet of ‘fake news’ is attributed merely to sources at odds with the perspective of the accuser.

Jacobsen: The basic premise of the media trends in the 2010s and projected into the 2020s is the slow death by a thousand cuts of print-based media while there is a transition into electronic media. How can journalists adapt to this trend and landscape?

Mills: The newspaper industry has taken quite a blow, and the losses suffered have happened so quickly and on such a great scale that one wonders whether growth in the digital sector can offset them at this time. It has been a challenge to monetize digital journalism. Some outlets have responded by putting up paywalls and employing ads. Others have yielded to the temptation of the clickbait, which invites misreading and encourages sharing by social media users, again, often without ever having read the article in its entirety. It certainly isn’t all doom and gloom though. Change is always challenging. It is also true that there is potential for a more even playing field. Anyone with something captivating to contribute can hop online and do so. You inevitably get the sleazy opportunists, the painfully inadequate writing that is a result of the ‘death of expertise,’ but also the brilliant.

Jacobsen: How are editing and writing probably easier in some ways and more difficult in others with electronic assistance and internet-based communication with colleagues?

Mills: I began working in editing and writing in the online environment. So I never really had the chance to experience it otherwise. I correspond with a team that is spread out all across the world. At the click of a button and from the comfort of my own home, I can contact people for interviews, I can conduct background checks on them, I can network with colleagues, I can reach people in war zones and they can videochat live with me from the scene. It’s grand and humbling to be living in this time, despite the challenges. You only need a reliable Wi-Fi connection and you can have the world at your fingertips.

Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Sarah.


In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


© Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing 2012-Present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors co-copyright their material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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