Skip to Content
Resource Articles //

What Is Digital Native Media?

Digital communication is changing global communications.

Where do you get your news? If you’re like 93% of Americans, you get at least some of it online.1 And chances are, a few of those news sites are relatively new to the industry.

Known as digital native media, these news sites that started online (as opposed to those that started in broadcast or through paper-based publication) receive over 21 million unique visitors every month.1 Needless to say, it’s changing news delivery in particular and global communication in general. And as online communication technologies continue to advance, the prominence of digital native media is likely to advance with it. But which digital native media organizations are most likely to succeed? And what does the growth of and reliance on digital native media mean for the news industry and news consumers? Here are some answers.

What Is Digital Native Media?

What Are Some of the Biggest Digital Native Media Companies?

All major news organizations utilize digital communications, with some—like ESPN, The Washington Post, and Fox News—having robust online presences that take advantage of everything from an oft-updated website to social media communications across all the major social media platforms. But the online presences of those older organizations are still ancillary to the broadcast or print-publication side of the business. In the case of digital native media, online communication is the primary focus. And some of these organizations have been quite successful.

The most successful or well-known organizations in digital native media include:

  • Bleacher Report
  • Breitbart
  • Business Insider
  • BuzzFeed
  • Deadspin
  • Gizmodo
  • HuffPost 
  • Mashable
  • Politico
  • Slate
  • TMZ
  • Upworthy
  • Vox  

What Are the Advantages of Digital Native Media?

Digital native media is carving out a place in the news media landscape for a number of reasons, including:

  • Frequent Content Updates
    Many digital native media organizations rely more on a network of freelancers than on a stable of on-staff reporters. This allows them to access a huge amount of potential content from both established and aspiring reporters and columnists, which in turn allows them to publish a lot of new content, appealing to information-hungry news consumers.
  • A Lower Overhead
    Digital native media organizations don’t have to worry about the costs of printing a publication or producing a news program (although some produce video content). Additionally, by relying heavily on freelance contributors, digital native media organizations avoid the costs of employee overhead, benefits, and payroll taxes.
  • A More Intense Focus
    The global reach of the internet allows digital native media organizations to fill niche markets in a way their older news brethren cannot. TMZ, for example, specializes in celebrity gossip, appealing to a niche market that wants as-it-happens celebrity coverage—a kind of coverage an older organization like US Weekly can’t provide as easily. Meanwhile, Politico appeals to the niche market of political junkies, expending all of its resources on political coverage, unlike older news organizations that spread resources across multiple departments like weather, sports, and non-political news.

What Are the Disadvantages of Digital Native Media?

The rise of digital native media hasn’t been all good for the news industry and its consumers. There are drawbacks, which include:

  • Lower Quality
    The speed at which content is released can leave little time for editing and fact checking.2 That, inevitably, leads to mistakes. This can make digital native media less trustworthy and of lower overall quality than older, traditional media outlets, which typically take more time with their reports.

    The potential Catch 22 for digital native media companies is that, while improving quality is certainly possible, it may reduce the advantages of being primarily digital. For example, a recent study of BuzzFeed’s attempt to become a more serious news organization found that to reach the level of quality of older news media, the company has had to adopt a more traditional organizational approach,3 which could ultimately make BuzzFeed less nimble and less unique.

  • Manipulation
    Not all digital native media organizations produce real news. Some use the format and people’s growing comfort with nontraditional news media sources to spread fake news. And since the lies of fake news tend to be shared online faster than true stories,4 it’s arguable that digital media in general is contributing to disorder around the world.
  • Tarnishing of All News Media
    It’s possible that digital native media is having a deleterious effect on news in general. The fact that some digital native media organizations have lower standards and the fact that the format is easily manipulated can make news consumers question the legitimacy of news media as a whole. Plus, some argue that the reliance on freelancers—particularly on unpaid freelancers—is significantly harming the news industry’s workforce.5

How Can You Succeed in Digital Native Media?

If you’re looking to start or advance a career at a digital native media organization—or in any other organization in the communications industry—a BS in Communication can help you reach your goals. Through the right communications degree program, you can gain the communication skills you need to create targeted social media messaging, develop marketing campaigns, write compelling communications, deliver engaging presentations, and promote ideas that inspire others to take action.

On top of that, you can earn your communications degree without having to live near a campus. In fact, thanks to online education, you won’t even have to drive to class. Instead, an online Bachelor of Science degree in communications will let you complete coursework from home. And when you choose an online university for your bachelor’s, you also get to choose when in the day you attend class—making online learning an excellent option for anyone who wants the ability to work full time while earning a degree.

Digital native media organizations are creating exciting new opportunities in global communications. With a BS in Communication, you can become part of the future of media.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering a BS in Communication degree program online. Expand your career options and earn your degree using a convenient, flexible learning platform that fits your busy life.


Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,