As journalists look for better ways to report in the COVID age, new research from PR and financial communications and marketing firm Prosek Partners offers insights on how business reporters find and work with sources as the impact of the pandemic continues to limit in-person interactions between journalists and spokespersons.
The survey polled 86 U.S. financial and business journalists between October 1-20 on several questions related to how the media is conducting its work amid the pandemic and what back-to-the-newsroom plans look like. See highlights of the research in the infographic below.
Adjusting to remote work
Survey results highlighted the difficulty journalists are having with idea generation and mining for new sources. Sixty-onepercent of reporters stated that it has been harder to develop new sources in the remote work environment, with only 11 percent stating that it has become easier.
Maintaining work-life balance was cited among the biggest challenge in the work-from-home environment by 44 percent of reporters surveyed. Other key challenges included bonding and building trust with new sources (named by 26 percent of respondents); COVID-19 dominating the news cycle (19 percent); and brainstorming and collaborating with other reporters (12 percent). Additionally, financial/businessreporters are overwhelmingly in favor of phone interviews vs. Zoom or video conversations, with nearly three in four (73 percent) respondents stating they prefer this method.
“With 95 percent of respondents stating they use PR pros as much or more than usual during this time, it’s evident that there is a big opportunity for public relations teams to be valuable to reporters,” said Jennifer Prosek, managing partner at Prosek Partners, in a news release.
Key reporting hubs
The research also reveals that New York City and London will remain key media hubs in the post-pandemic world. Nearly two-thirds of respondents (62 percent) noted that these cities will maintain or grow their level of importance for financial and business journalism.
“New York City and London have long been recognized as influential, global media hubs and agencies and clients have organized themselves around these hubs,” said Prosek. “If things were to change, it could change the face of the industry. While Covid-19 was a shock to the system, it’s clear these media hubs will continue to prevail as prominent centers of influence in the post-pandemic world.”
Yearning for normalcy
The survey indicated that many reporters are eager to get back to traditional ways of doing work. With respect to return-to-newsroom plans, the findings showed that 11 percent of reporters surveyed are already back in the newsroom. Out of all respondents, a quarter (26 percent) expect to be back in the office by the end of the year, and more than two-thirds (69 percent) anticipate being back by the end of Q1 2021. Furthermore, more than six out of 10 (62 percent) reporters expect that some or all their flexible arrangements will become permanent.
Despite the changes introduced by the pandemic, many reporters appear eager to return to normalcy. One-third (33 percent) of reporters said they are already comfortable to host in-person, socially distanced interviews, with another third stating they will likely be comfortable by March 2021. All told, just a quarter (26 percent) of respondents indicated their belief that in-person meetings are a thing of the past. And despite concerns over the future of in-person conferences, two-thirds (64 percent) of journalists disagreed with the notion that conferences will be less important for them to attend moving forward.