As Mobile Use Increases, Digital Editorial Workforce Is Reshaped

Website traffic has dramatically shifted over the last few years, speeding up between 2015-2016. That's according to a recent study reported by Axios.

The numbers show a change in how users access digital content on weekdays and weekends. During the week, the numbers between mobile and desktop visitors are nearly 1:1. However, come the weekend, those numbers drastically change, coming closer to a 2:1 ratio. 

The study suggests many readers are using mobile phones and tablets for leisure reading during off hours — and that publications should consider different approaches to content during various times of the week. 



Similarly, many newsrooms nationwide are relying more on editors who understand how to present content both compellingly and digitally.

The Columbia Journalism Review reports the findings of a new study from the Tow Center for Digital Journalism that follows the career trajectories of New York City journalists and their transition to digital editorial technologies.

The researchers collected the employment history of 6,116 newsroom staffers and freelancers coming from a diverse range of outlets, including newspapers, broadcast and digital-first companies since 2010, resulting in 24,598 different jobs in all.

After analyzing the data, which was aggregated from LinkedIn and verified, the researchers saw that data, analytic and platform-based (DAP) jobs grew at newspaper and online media companies, while non-DAP jobs decreased. 

The workforce has had to modify its skill set over the past eight years to adjust to a rapidly changing editorial landscape. The study showed that while new skills were needed, many outlets retrained their staff rather than reaching out to skilled employees from other fields.

The study also examined an intricate network of 736 companies, which saw individuals move between them into DAP roles 1,071 times. 

Companies like The New York TimesThe Wall Street JournalHuffington Post and Conde Nast provided many employees in the pool with “early on-the-job education that serves to shape subsequent years of their careers.”

The researchers came to several conclusions, including a need for further training of employees within their current jobs, and a need for outside voices to bring their expertise to DAP positions.

More about the study is available at the Columbia Journalism Review.

Interestingly, though, as companies have focused on traffic gains and losses and how to operate in an increasingly hostile digital advertising environment, the need for educating the editorial workforce is rarely discussed.

The study shows a shifting landscape of readers who expect more than a “pivot to video.” They’re dedicated readers who may want new ways of absorbing content in their leisure time, which might not fall within the purviews of current strategy.

An infusion of technological knowhow and innovation would strengthen those outlets already attracting dedicated readers. It can be done without displacing a workforce still acclimating to the new media environment.

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