Secrets of Success for a Media Professional

KJB102 Assessment 2

Secrets of Success in Online Journalism

Written by: Kate Lavrencic, Kayla Wratten and Emily Burke 

Online journalism is a contemporary form of journalism emerging in society where editorial content is immediately distributed and published through social media and the internet as opposed to broadcast or print. In order to flourish in the industry as an online journalist, media and communication (JMC) professional, there are several vital secrets to success that need to be recognised and implemented. This essay will discuss just three elements of success that are integral to a prosperous career, including extensive and effective usage of social media, the ability to network effectively, and finally, the skill of working well in a team. To effectively demonstrate the importance of these success factors, references to distinguished online corporation, BuzzFeed, will be deconstructed to discuss not only how each skill is important within a real-world context, but also how each factor weaves into the next.


In light of the current landscape of print journalism, it is evident that media professionals must have an active social media presence to keep up with the ever-changing face of print, promote themselves as a brand and most importantly connect with their audience.The heyday of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat has lead to the urge for media professionals to use these spaces to share their network and engage with audiences by leading twitter chats, responding to Facebook comments on articles and ultimately form relationships (Ordway 2015). According to David Higgerson (2015), the ability to use and create a social media presence is vital to a media professional because “…Journalism needs to take its cue from how audiences react and respond to what we do and find ways to get the audience to engage with what we know they need to know”. Likewise, Donne Torr (2015) suggests social media’s power in creating a successful career. Social media helps you learn about your customers, which aids in targeting customers and understanding their specific needs (Torr 2015). Platforms like Twitter allow journalists to engage with current audiences while seeking out new ones through use of the likes of hashtags (Torr 2015). Additionally, Torr (2015) adds that social media channels not only create meaningful relationships with people and provide an opportunity to directly communicate with existing subscribers, they also serve as a window to the world where online material can be accessed from anywhere with a router, which serves as an affordable way to increase brand awareness.

An organisation who is deemed one of the most successful in their field, BuzzFeed, has shown evidence in using social media as a platform to base the company on. Jonah Peretti, Buzzfeed founder, has “flipped the model of engagement on its head,” according to Connolly (2015). If Snapchat, Facebook or Youtube is where users want to consume content directly on those platforms, then that’s where BuzzFeed will reach them (Marks 2016). This is evident in their highly active Facebook feed, mobile news apps and Snapchat Brand. BuzzFeed’s engagement with audiences through Facebook comment responses, live-feeds and comprehensive understanding of their audience through social networks and tailoring their content accordingly, has resulted in a successful brand whose name is highly regarded by their audience. Evidence has suggested that leading an active social media profile is a major key to success in the career of a JMC professional. While social media aids audience engagement and brand loyalty, it can be an important contributor to growing networks, which ultimately makes media professionals more valuable as a brand.


Along with having an active social media presence, the ability to network effectively is another element which significantly contributes to a successful career as an online journalist. Networking is the act of developing a group of acquaintances through which journalists can regularly communicate to create mutually benefitting relationships (WebFinance 2016). In order to network effectively, JMC professionals must be able to navigate the new technological world by developing an online presence within a variety of social media platforms, such as Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. Additionally, online journalists must frequently attend events such as media conferences to expose themselves to a broader range of people and personally meet those they have already communicated with in a digital environment. Advice from the Entrepeneur states that another key factor of networking is valuing the quality of the connections established rather than the quantity of them: “Put away your business cards, and form genuine friendships with people you meet.” (Entrepreneur 2015) It is essential that an online journalist follows these skills as maintaining strong contacts in the industry can potentially shape the stories they write or grant them exclusivity on breaking news. As forming closer associates creates mutual trust, it also opens the field for recommendations to further links and connections.


An example of an online media organisation that implements networking to increase their success rate is the news and entertainment website, BuzzFeed. This company ensures that they have strong partnerships by communicating with both editorial and advertising partners to create content. By including these partners in their posts, BuzzFeed is building a relationship which will form a bond between the companies and be mutually benefitting, such as the case when they partnered with the media investment organisation, GroupM (Swanty 2015). GroupM’s advantages include being granted a creative residency on the BuzzFeed Motion Campus, being the first business to have access to BuzzFeed’s new Pound technology and being allowed preferential media pricing (Swanty 2015). A BuzzFeed spokesperson said that the partnerships will allow their online corporation to pilot their recently developed Pound technology and “have a bigger audience and bigger impact than what would have been possible on our own,” (Swanty 2015). BuzzFeed’s soaring success rate is evidence that the ability to network as a JMC professional will bolster career opportunities. Networking by gaining reliable contacts is not the only vital secret of success online journalists need to recognise, as the ability to communicate through visual imagery is also incredibly important.   


The third secret to success alongside an active social media presence and the ability to network is communication. This is a simple yet vital factor that contributes to the success of an online journalist or JMC professional’s career. As the internet has formed one of the “greatest advance(s) for communication,” online journalists are in the light by how well they communicate with their audiences (Acharya 2012). Various communication types and skills are used online to deliver a thorough range of content to interest and intrigue audiences (Acharya 2012). These types of communications include visual, narrate, social, humanise, personalise and utilise (Acharya 2012). However, the most effective and efficient form of communication is the use of visual media for an online journalist to deliver this content to intended audiences (Bradshaw 2011), (American Press Institute 2016), (White 2016). This term is described simply as “the transmission of information and ideas using symbols and imagery” (White 2016).  Head of Communications for a simple graphic design software company called Canva, Zach Kitschke, conducted a study in 2015 for the spectrum of information retention in a human brain (Kitschke 2015). The statistics were astounding, with only 20% of information from texts remembered compared to 80% of information recorded when placed into an infographic (Kitschke 2015). Therefore, it is essential for online journalists to include images with key information relevant to the text that will grab attention and impact the audience. The delivery and format of news has evolved over time, to keep up with the public’s changing consumption habits and preferences (Kitschke 2015). At present, “62% of journalists are required to write online news and another 39% are expected to blog” (Kitschke 2015). Therefore, it is vital to communicate through an effective and appropriate use of media as an online journalist.


This is successfully accomplished by BuzzFeed. One of BuzzFeed’s guides to success was that online users shared their content. The content shared was “highly visual”, stated by Jon Stenibery, president of BuzzFeed (Rowman 2014). Through the use of bright colours, bold font types and unique short video clips, BuzzFeed targets and lures audiences to engage with the content provided. If these three secrets of success are not followed, then an online journalist will not have the required skills and knowledge to succeed. Therefore, a combination of the appropriate use of secret successes, including social media, networking and visual communication, ultimately contributes to how an online media professional becomes successful.

To achieve success as an online journalist, media professionals need to understand how to implement a wide range of skills and abilities. As a result of the changing media landscape, journalists need to maintain an active social media presence, which not only bolsters publicity for themselves but also allows them to network and forge connections with a wider range of people. The ability to network effectively is an integral key to success in the industry, as creating contacts grants access to a broader range of stories. In order for these stories to be engaging to contemporary audiences, journalists must have a clear understanding of the importance of communicating through visual imagery. These three skills are integral factors of success because they compliment each other. To understand and use these skills to build a career in this industry, online journalism will be greatly beneficial in building, communicating and sharing ideas. This will ultimately lead JMC professionals towards a successful career and flourish within the industry.


Reference List


Acharya, U. 2012. “Online journalism”. Accessed April 12, 2016.

American Press Institute. 2016. “What makes journalism different than other forms of communication?”. Accessed April 12, 2016.

Bradshaw, P. 2011. “6 ways of communicating data journalism”. Accessed April 13, 2016.


Connolly, B. 2015. “How Buzzfeed discovered the secret to success on social media”. Accessed April 18, 2016.

Entrepreneur. 2015. “5 Steps to Seriously Improve    Your Networking Skills.” Accessed April 15, 2016. 245995


Higgerson, D. 2015. “Digital journalism trends in 2016: why audience engagement holds the key to a thriving future”. Accessed April 18, 2016.


Kitschke, Z. 2015. “Why Visual Communication Is the Most Important Skill for Journalists in 2015”. Accessed April 13, 2016.


Marks, D. 2016. “The buzzfeed approach to social media strategy”. Accessed April 18, 2016.


Ordway, D. 2015. “What do audiences think of journalists social media use”. Accessed April 18, 2016.

Rowman, D. (2014). How BuzzFeed mastered social sharing to become a media giant for a new era. Retrieved from


Swant, M. 2015. “Here Are the Perks BuzzFeed and WPP Will Get From Partnering With Each Other.” Accessed April 18, 2016. -buzzfeed-and-wpp-will-get-partnering-each-other-166586


Torr. D. “why is social media important? 7 reasons why you can’t ignore”. Accessed April 18, 2016.


WebFinance. 2016. “Networking.” Accessed April 15, 2016.

White, D. 2016. “What is Visual Communication”. Accessed April, 12, 2016.