Survey: Money jitters, trust issues cloud media industry’s future

A new report highlights what journalists and PR pros are most worried about in coming years, which platforms will reign supreme and how—or whether—public confidence can be restored.

Journalism is in a season of tumult.

Mynewsdesk surveyed 3,175 journalists and PR professionals from 12 countries to get a sense of what issues are causing the most job-related anxiety. Half of the respondents expressed concern that the “news media is no longer trusted as a reliable source of information.” Fifty-three percent view “fake news” as a serious, long-term problem.

Other concerns include insolvency, instability and the insatiable maw of social media. Sixty-nine percent of respondents fear that “independent news organizations will not be financially viable in the future,” and “70 percent worry about professional stability.” Another major concern is the incredible power, influence and sway of social media giants.

A 2016 Pew study found that 62 percent of U.S. adults get their news from social media outlets—a staggering 44 percent of whom rely exclusively on Facebook. Of the journalists surveyed, 71 percent said “Facebook has too much power as a source of information.” Sixty-one percent of respondents said Google and YouTube hold too much power.

Beyond the challenge of reining in fake news—which has devastated news outlets’ credibility—social media companies’ domination means these platforms increasingly dictate the way news is created, distributed and monetized.

As the report notes:

These companies hold tremendous power because, through their black-box algorithms, they have the ability to propagate ideas as well as suppress ideas.

As for the near future, survey participants were asked to cite which new technologies or channels they anticipate focusing on in the next 18 months. They listed:

  • Live streaming
  • Video messaging
  • Virtual reality
  • Machine-generated content

Also, more and more journalists will gravitate to corporate America, the report predicts.

Mynewsdesk cites the career arc of former Washington Post editor Rajiv Chandrasekaran, who now works for Starbucks. According to the survey, “23 percent of journalists are ‘open’ or ‘enthusiastic’ about the idea of working for a brand.”

What can communicators do to close the trust gap with journalists? Customization is key. The report states:

Pitches should be industry specific, localized and customized to the needs of a news media’s audience. Mass-produced or wide news angles don’t work.

The report closes with six exhortations for PR practitioners:

1. Invest in editorial-quality content.

2. Before hiring a journalist, ensure cultural fit.

3. Become a trusted source.

4. Hang out where journalists source their stories.

5. Experiment carefully with new technologies and digital media.

6. Treat your credibility as an asset.

No one knows what lies ahead for the news media industry, except that communicators and journalists alike are in for a bumpy ride. Is it possible to repair credibility and find sustainable financial business models? What changes are in store for PR and journalism?

Click here to access Mynewsdesk’s “Navigating Change” study, which reveals the way the winds might be blowing. You can also watch a video featuring news media predictions from seven experts—including PR Daily’s Beki Winchel.

Topics: PR

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