Digital Essays 2023: The evolving role of the media employee in the next digital age

Media professionals are becoming the architects of change, writes Fusion5’s Fadi Sader

Remember when ‘multitasking’ meant you could eat your lunch and scroll through social media simultaneously?

Now it is shorthand for live tweeting a product launch whilst debugging the live stream… and yes, still eating your lunch.

Every media professional has a story of ‘the day everything happened at once’.

I have seen seasoned community managers who found themselves troubleshooting a website crash whilst simultaneously moderating a Twitter chat. I have seen digital specialists juggle a PPC campaign, a crashing webinar, and an influencer collaboration – all whilst keeping an eye on the analytics.

It is a mad digital world, and these anecdotes are just tiny pixels in the larger picture of media’s evolution.

Today’s media employee has become a master of adaptation, a multidisciplinary expert who shifts roles with agility and precision. As we navigate through the era of rapid technological advances, the role of the media employee is being reshaped.

The media landscape has progressed beyond the initial digital revolution. Today, we find ourselves in what can be described as the ‘next’ phase of the industry.

The Swiss Army Knife of Skill

Gone are the times when mastering one skill could carve out a career.

To understand just how frantic the pace of change has been, a 2023 survey conducted by the Digital News Report indicates that a staggering 82 per cent of media executives prioritise hiring journalists with solid digital competencies, including social media and SEO optimisation skills.

These numbers are not just digits. They are a snapshot of the changing heartbeat of the industry.

Today, a journalist might be writing a piece, but before the ink dries, they are filming content, managing social media, and analysing traffic data all before lunch. It is not so much that our roles are evolving; they are multiplying.

And, of course, what article would be complete without bringing up the emergence of AI?

As a collaborative tool, it has been a game-changer. Tools like ChatGPT exemplify this new alliance. Indeed, considering we’re ‘keeping it real,’ this essay itself benefits from AI’s capabilities to draft and refine content, but all it does is demonstrate how AI can support and enhance the creative process.

However, despite AI’s rise, interpreting data in a culturally sensitive, ethically sound, and engaging manner is a distinctly human trait. We’re, therefore, also a hybrid operator: part analyst, part storyteller, part ethical watchdog, and part technologist.

AI can process and analyse data at superhuman speeds, but it is the media professional who transforms this data into actionable insights, compelling campaigns, and engaging content. It is a partnership where technology enhances human capability and creativity.

If content is King, Data is the Empire.

From Tech Troubleshooters to Community Builders

Our toolbox is overflowing. Success in today’s media landscape requires digital fluency, a grasp of the enigmatic algorithms, the ability to keep up with the latest social media trends, and, most importantly, maintaining a finger on the pulse of emerging digital trends.

Yet, it is about more than mastering tools or crunching numbers. The media landscape has been split into specialised areas, each with rules and requirements.

Transitioning into this digitally sophisticated era necessitates an environment conducive to continuous learning and experimentation. Agencies are responsible for ensuring their teams are well-equipped to navigate these changes.

At Fusion5, I’m proud to say we have adapted to these trends by implementing a weekly “Toolbox Talk”, where employees participate in weekly sessions to experiment with new digital tools and brainstorm innovative strategies. Such initiatives foster a culture of continuous learning and adaptability.

We need to be able to jump into any part of the business at a moment’s notice. This requires not just a breadth of knowledge but also a depth of understanding in each discipline. We encourage our employees to be curious learners.

This investment in talent not only equips employees to handle the various demands of their roles but also builds a resilient and versatile workforce capable of steering the agency through the unpredictable waters of the digital age.

Looking into the Crystal Ball 

In closing, this article represents more than change. It symbolises a revolution in how media professionals operate, engage, and succeed.

Whether it’s the evolution from type to swipe, the expectation of being ‘on’ 24/7, or the never-ending quest for the next digital skill set, the journey of a media professional today is as data-driven as it is story-driven, mirroring the transformative nature of the digital landscape itself.

It is an exciting time as our stage is everywhere, and the audience is always watching. We’re the choreographers of the next viral trend, the keepers of the digital gate, and the narrators of the modern story where the expectation is to be a chameleon.

Adaptive, colourful, and capable of surviving in a variety of environments. In embracing this multifaceted approach, we as media professionals do not just adapt to change; we become the architects of it, driving our agencies and the industry at large towards innovative horizons.

By Fadi Sader, Digital Director at Fusion5