Journalist Daniel Völpel (43) from Stuttgart works in the fields of science, economics, and local politics. During his studies of history and political science, he already worked part-time for the local newspaper Böblinger Bote. Before he started his own business as a freelance journalist in 2009, he was employed by the Ludwigsburger Kreiszeitung and the Schwarzwälder Bote. He has been working in the industry for 21 years now and shares how his work has changed since then.
Q: What impact have digitalisation and the internet had on the journalism industry?
A: I think the internet has completely turned journalism upside down. When I started as a journalist, the newspaper I worked for, the Ludwigsburger Kreiszeitung, didn’t even have a website. Back in 2005, the senior publisher was still waiting to see whether the internet would catch on. Since then, the industry has changed from a one-way communication medium to two-way communication medium.
Q: Oh really, and how did this affect your work?
A: There is a lot more feedback through e-mail or social media. It also changed the ways and possibilities of research. In the pre-internet era, everything had to be found out in person or through archive and file research. Nowadays, the internet helps to find a lot of answers very quickly, even if there are not always reliable sources. A further item that has changed is the output channels. Many young people nowadays consume media online, while in the past almost everyone owned a print newspaper.
Q: Did this change the demands on journalists?
A: There is much more expected from journalists. Today, it’s considered standard to provide pictures in addition to articles. And also audio or moving images are expected of us. We have developed from the age of the word to the age of the (moving) image. There are no large teams on the road anymore, journalists must do it all by themselves. This means the workload has increased enormously due to the higher demands. You must be very careful not to overwork yourself and to not put too much pressure on yourself.
Q: Do you feel more pressure to publish faster due to the rapid transfer of information via the internet?
A: That depends on the field of work and medium you work for. However, there are news-driven mediums that claim to be first. Nowadays that’s almost impossible because someone on Twitter already knew it beforehand. That’s why I think the race for news updates has already been lost and rather results in a decrease of the quality of journalistic reporting.
Q: Speaking of social media. Do you think readers’ trust in journalism has suffered due to the spread of fake news, especially on social media?
A: I think that the majority of people still trusts the serious media. But for sure fake news and conspiracy theories have become a huge problem.
Q: What do you think the future of journalism will look like?
A: I think that print will remain with us, but journalism is shifting more and more to digital distribution channels. Social media will also remain important, but I don’t think that these networks will replace serious journalism. I hope that readers will continue to get information directly from the news media.