Journalists speak out on 2020’s impact on media—and how PR can build coverage inroads

by | Oct 8, 2020 | Public Relations

As we work through a rocky year fraught with crisis, misinformation and upheaval, today’s journalists believe 2020 has left a permanent mark on the way they report the news—even in a year with a presidential election. According to new research from veteran comms agency MediaSource, 80 percent of journalists predicted that COVID-19 will be the biggest story for the rest of the year and 67 percent believe their newsroom will never be the same.

And as a result, 100 percent said they are now more open to receiving content in new ways

For example, they are particularly more willing to accept videos shot with video conferencing software or smartphones.

Journalists speak out on 2020’s impact on media—and how PR can build coverage inroads

In 2020, journalists have worked through a global pandemic, a worldwide movement against racial injustice and a presidential election campaign. The supercharged news cycle is churning out stories quicker than ever before to satisfy consumers’ unprecedented demand for information during this monumental year.

To take stock of how these culture-altering events have impacted the media, MediaSource surveyed journalists nationwide to better understand how their world has changed and how that impacts the way in which they cover the news. Communicators want to be better partners to journalists and better stewards of promoting brand stories for clients during this pivotal time in history—and they can’t do that without knowing how reporters feel.

Journalists speak out on 2020’s impact on media—and how PR can build coverage inroads

“If you’re a communicator navigating the unknowns of 2020, you need to know what a journalist wants and needs,” said Lisa Arledge Powell, MediaSource president, in a news release. “Their jobs have changed and ours have, too. If you’re not keeping up, you won’t last. We wanted to determine what you need to know to be a communications rockstar for the rest of 2020 and beyond.”

The survey asked journalists questions in three major categories:

  • How their world and the way in which they cover the news has changed
  • How their need for diversity, equity and inclusion has evolved
  • How their overall story needs have changed

Journalists had opportunities to share their thoughts and give examples, along with the firm’s tips on how communicators can put new practices into place based on the changing needs of the news media. Their opinions shed light on how journalists are responding to the pandemic, racial equality and new methods of reporting.

Journalists speak out on 2020’s impact on media—and how PR can build coverage inroads

“We’re always looking for resources and stories that help the community deal with what’s going on with racism, COVID-19 and protests,” said one TV news anchor in the survey, “but we have no time to deal with our own feelings and address the depression, unrest, anger, sadness, etc. that we, as humans, are dealing with. It’s a tough time.”

Journalists speak out on 2020’s impact on media—and how PR can build coverage inroads

But 2020 doesn’t have to just be about those three topics, and journalists are very aware of that as well

Many said they’d like to cover other stories, but haven’t had the resources, submissions or time.

“My biggest frustration is having the resources to cover news stories not related to the pandemic or racial inequality,” one TV news producer said, according to the survey. “Stories that would have been a big deal five months ago hardly get the time and attention they deserve.”

Journalists speak out on 2020’s impact on media—and how PR can build coverage inroads

Download the full report here.

The survey included 102 media professionals who work as journalists for media outlets in television, print, online or radio. Each journalist’s position was verified by MediaSource public relations staff. Of those surveyed, 46 percent work in television, 43 percent work for a print and/or online outlet and 11 percent work in radio. Eighty percent work for a local media outlet and 20 percent work for a national media outlet.

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Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 12 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richardc@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter

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