July 21, 2008

Study Finds Shrinking Newsroom Equals Decreased Quality

Posted in A walk on the "dark side", Current Events, In the news, Media at 10:49 am by R

Project for Excellence in Journalism released a study recently, called “The Changing Newsroom: What is Being Gained and What is Being Lost in America’s Daily Newspapers.”

This report tells us what we already know:

  • News content is diminishing because of a smaller news reporting staff
  • The focus is on local content
  • Content is moving to the Web, but editorial hasn’t found a way to generate revenue from the shift from print to online

One thing of note, pertinent to our set, is that the newsroom is younger! We are dealing with our peers in the newsroom. We are working with people who have the same technology upbringing that we’ve had, complete with online savvy and social networking in our DNA.

This is a huge advantage for us as PR practitioners and Millenials (refer to Shannon’s post about this phenomenon), because we have an inate ability to converse with a younger newsroom and help propel our trade forward into more interactive and creative avenues of communication.

Things to take away from this study (by the way, the study hasn’t been posted yet on PEJ’s site, but the Assoicated Press and MSNBC did review the findings. Read it here.):

  1. Get local — take national headlines down to the home town. Concentrate on what’s happening in your community to get the most coverage
  2. Help a Reporter Out — Give our newsroom colleagues your best research and most complete effort in pitching. Now more than ever, studies show (literally), they just don’t have time for crap. (Speaking of Help a Reporter Out…sign up for this service…it’s AMAZING!)
  3. Work your age — Often times we as young professionals are battling our youth to make a proper professional impression on our mentors, clients, more seasoned colleagues, established journalists and the like. Here’s a golden opportunity to work your youth. Friend reporters on Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, et al. Share common early career experiences. Be a professional friend.

While none of this is earth-shattering news, it’s good to have an authoritative reminder. Print reporting (especially newspaper) has discovered its weakness and defined it and admitted it’s afraid:

“I feel I’m being catapulted into another world, a world I don’t really understand,” Virginian-Pilot editor Dennis Finley told PEJ. “Things are happening at the speed of light.”

This challenge is also a great opportunity for us as young professionals to play up our strengths, fine tune our skills and really pitch in to insure that the quality of the news isn’t sacrificed any further.

My dream is to do such a good job of supporting shrinking newsrooms that PEJ’s next study is called “How Public Relations Professionals Positively Contribute To The News Media and Increase News Quality.” 🙂



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