Do you trust everything you read in the newspapers, in print and online? How can you use digital PR to get your message across in the media? These are some of the most pressing issues of our times, for consumers and companies.
By William Furney, content marketing manager, Reachology
Journalism is essential to the proper functioning of democracy as well as keeping us all informed and holding the powerful to account. It’s also an essential element of digital PR, allowing companies to connect with those in the media and get their corporate and brand messages out to relevant audiences.
The internet revolution has had an enormous effect on journalism — good and bad — and has caused a seismic shift in the way we consume our news. Traditional media, such as newspapers and television, has gone into decline as the new way of getting news increasingly takes over, by reading and viewing what’s happening on websites, apps and social media.
Digital news is fast, instant, mostly free and is not limited to any one country or market but all over the world, in a flash. It has hastened the demise of printed media, with some unfortunately going bankrupt and closing and others halting the printing presses and going online only, because that’s where readers are.
And during the last two years of the covid pandemic, lots of us have been glued to the news — mostly via our smartphones, laptops, tablets and desktop computers — to find out what the latest is on infections, travel and other restrictions and even the threats of further lockdowns that would again keep us mostly confined to our homes.
So what’s the state of the news now, as we begin a new year? To find out, we delved into annual predictions by journalism experts as compiled by the NiemenLab at Harvard University — a project that, as it says, is “an attempt to help journalism figure out its future in an internet age”.
What are the media experts predicting for 2022?
Here’s a sampling of what the media and communications professionals expect to see in journalism and the media in 2022.
Zizi Papacharissi, a professor of communication and political science at the University of Illinois Chicago, says that in the rush to online news in the early days, few if any traditional media really understood the emerging news landscape, and initially used it as a way to advertise their print editions, giving their news away for free on the internet — a big mistake, she says. And she says that one of the biggest problems with the media in 2022 is that it’s inherently “broken” — tied to commercial and political interests and generally driven by profits.
“We never fixed what was broken about old media. Instead, we built something new on top of an already flawed foundation,” Papacharissi says, and she also hits out at social media and their financial motives in sharing news.
“It’s the economics of journalism that drive the algorithms. Let’s not get distracted and lose sight of the core problem. It’s not just the algorithms that need auditing. It’s also the profit-driven structure of news media that needs a do-over.”
The professor says she’s not calling for an end to companies making profits from news but that there’s “a way to make money and stay loyal to democratically anchored news values at the same time. There’s more than one way to do so. Put the journalists in conversation with the scientists.” She’d also like to put “more people of colour and colourful backgrounds in charge. Because more often than not, they have proved they know what they’re doing and that they’re ahead of the curve.”
One possible big change in the media this year is that it could be based around the next and more advanced version of the internet, Web3, says Daniel Eilemberg, head of content at Exile Content Studio, a media and entertainment company.
“In 2022, journalism will ‘pivot’ to Web3. Since the rise of digital media, we’ve seen news organisations realign priorities and resources towards potential new revenue streams, such as mobile, social and video, with mixed results,” he says.
“This year we’ll see many ramp up their Web3 efforts. It makes sense. After all, Web3 offers new ways of monetising archives and IP, creating patronage, rewarding readers and funding startups. All things journalism could use.”
New York-based journalist Julia Munslow, who writes for Yahoo News and other websites, holds the view that journalists must show more of their personality — something, she points out, that Gen Zers (people currently aged up to 25 and preceding Millennials) are most likely to want in the media.
“In 2022, Gen Z will seek out a highly tailored news diet – and more – from media organisations,” says Munslow. “While focusing on Gen Z content strategy over the past couple years, I learned that it’s a generation willing to demand more from any entity, including media.”
And for those involved in digital PR and devising digital PR strategies for the clients and brands, Munslow advises that you don’t go overboard with lengthy content when trying to snare journalists’ attention and get coverage — and that the same goes for journalists attempting to reach audiences.
“Short-form content is the foundation of a viewer’s relationship with a journalist,” she says. “One video is all it takes to start building trust with a viewer, who will recognise an engaging, personable journalist in future pieces of content. Even if that next post is outside of a viewer’s usual interests, they’ll be more likely to listen.”
Finally, we turn to Brian Moritz, a director of online journalism at St. Bonaventure University in New York. He says news sites might increasingly start selling daily passes to get access to their content — because people are fed up clicking headlines on Twitter and other social media sites only to then be hit with a paywall and they can’t access the article.
He says many people just don’t want to pay for a monthly subscription to a news site, because they may not even visit it all that much; they just want to read one particular article, and there should be a pay-per-read (or -day) offering.
“Let’s clear one thing up, though: This is not about correcting the ‘original sin’ of newspapers being blindsided by the internet and not charging for news online – for getting people used to free news by giving it away,” says Moritz.
“Day passes won’t save local news or daily journalism. There’s no magic bullet, and after 20-plus years, it’s time for us in and around the industry to stop looking for that one perfect business model that will save everything.”
Whether these and other media experts’ predictions for journalism this year come true or not, one thing is for sure: amid the pandemic and an increasingly uncertain world, people need quality journalism more than ever, and they’re now mostly consuming it in digital format.
Find out more about the media landscape in 2022 and how your company can use it and digital PR to build your brands’ success and reach more customers. Book a free discovery call with Reachology now.