Finding a Voice: Modern Journalism in the Digital Age

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Published on

September 27, 2016
Time to read: 2 minutes


For our latest Talking Human video, Hook Research interviewed Phil Hilton – Editorial Director for Shortlist Media – about how the internet has had an impact on the voice of modern journalism.

Finding a voice in modern journalism

“I’m Phil Hilton – I’m the editorial director of Shortlist Media, and I’ve been here since the launch of this company. Journalism is hugely altered. I think, at core, you’re still coming up with lovely stuff for an audience, you’re just coming up with it for many different platforms now. There’s loads of great, distinctive voices at the moment and I think online really plays to that. There’s a current trend, I think, for very emotional writing: Certainly for the men, the big influence in the past was a Jeremy Clarkson-esque voice, which was a kind of ironic remove. And then people now are exploring very raw emotions in print, and they’re being funny and engaging on that level at the same time.”

Shortlist and Stylist mix elements of online and print journalism

“Shortlist and Stylist, I think, are real hybrids. They have elements of traditional journalism in them, but also they’re completely reinvented. For Shortlist we have something called the ‘Chosen Few’. This is a bunch of experts who select the best products in a specific category. That’s kind of a response to the web. This always comes back from research, especially from men, that they want edited choice, and this is a pure articulation of that.”

Modern Journalism and Shortlist - Hook Research

Engaging with your audience

“You have a constant communication with the reader through email and social media now, which is quite new. And we also do formal research to stay in touch with what they’re interested in – which I love. I love to hear where people are in their brains right now. The economy’s always changing, and their levels of confidence are always changing. What I love to do is to ask the audience really broad questions about their hopes and their dreams and what’s going on in their lives. And then, you’re notebook is always filled with ideas.

I always encourage the editors to focus on the audience. The big theme at the moment for audience is authenticity. I think what people want is an authentic and interesting conversation with you, and they want that to be molded for the individual social media platform that you happen to be on. So you just want to focus straight in on their lives and their interests at that moment in time.”

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