Journalism Isn’t Dying—But There Are New Requirements For the Digital Age

The New York Times, Vice and Mashable.

In May, all three of these media groups announced planned staff changes to markedly scale back each of their newsrooms. The initial reaction on Twitter and elsewhere was the same doom-and-gloom declaration of the “death of journalism” that has been circling the industry for years. But while this may have been the most high-profile flurry of media staffing reconfigurations for some time, the announcements by no mean signal the impending end of each business as we know it.

That’s because although these media groups are trimming staff, they aren’t scaling back their media business. This is a story about businesses that are strategically realigning their operations to meet the new requirements of the digital age—not one about cutting costs through layoffs because advertising revenues can’t sustain payroll.

This realignment reflects the fact that more and more content of various and diversified forms is now being delivered from outside the media house in the form of contributed work and perhaps syndicated content. This changes the role of some of those in the newsroom, while also changing the skillset requirements of the newsroom as a whole.

One Door Closes, Dozens More Open

In 2013, the Pew Research Center reported that photographers, artists and videographers—specifically those working at newspapers like The Times—were hit the hardest by the previous decade’s media job cuts. The overall number of journalist jobs dropped 43 percent from 6,171 in 2000 to only 3,493 in 2012, The American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) found. In all, a total of 2,600 full-time daily newspaper journalists lost their jobs in 2012 alone.

Ironically, perhaps, the shift in the media landscape of late has actually created more opportunities for PR rather than less.

Instead of having to persuade journalists to write about a client, you now can pitch contributed content and op-ed pieces directly to editors at industry publications, submit email Q&As instead of set up less controllable interviews, and tender video content to support your storytelling on behalf of clients.

According to the Content Marketing Institute, 76 percent of B2B marketers say that they will produce more content in 2016 to meet the growing demand for contributed content. With fewer staff allocated to visual media projects in-house, we can expect to see an uptick in contributed video and more opportunities to diversify coverage opportunities for your client. Given that, according to the DemandGen Institute, business buyers are more likely share diverse content types with colleagues, with 25 percent of respondents being particularly interested in video, this equals amplified reach and exposure.

So whereas the recent restructuring means fewer journalists for PR professionals to target, it presents many more interesting opportunities for PR.  The traditional, and terrible, “one pitch fits all” approach will certainly no longer suffice, as we move further into the realm of tailoring stories, content and content type to individual reporters and outlets.

Guest writer Martin Jones is CEO at March Communications.

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