It’s been both an extraordinary and challenging year for journalism with the profession under constant attack. Constant accusations of fake news, anti-media sentiment coming from many of the world’s politicians, and a seemingly overwhelming supply of competing content has made it much more difficult for professional journalists and influencers to be heard.
But there are positive signs, as well. In February 2018, The New York Times reported more than 10% year-over-year revenue growth for Q4 2017 and 7.7% year over year — a boon for an industry that had largely been in decline. According to Poynter, the Times now has more than 2.6 million digital-only subscribers, and 3.6 million including print and verticals.
One outcome as a result of all the turmoil is that journalists need reliable PR partners. According to Cision’s 2018 Global State of the Media study, which surveyed 1,355 journalists from across six countries on their perception of the media and communications industries, working with trusted professionals who can provide accurate, newsworthy information is essential.
Accuracy is paramount
According to three-quarters of respondents, ensuring 100% accuracy in their reporting is more important than being first on a story or the promise of exclusivity. Additionally, 56% of journalists said fake news accusations are causing audiences to become more skeptical about the content they produce.
Despite The New York Times revenue increase, journalists are still not feeling the love: 71% of respondents say they think the public has lost trust in them; that’s down from 91% last year, but still a significant number.
Social media is also making the job of a journalist more complicated, as some worry that social networks and search engines are causing audiences to bypass traditional media.
For brands and comms professionals, being a trusted source and reliable partner is vital. Interestingly, the press release still holds sway among journalists, with 44% reporting it’s their most trustworthy source of brand-related information. Only 30% said the same about a company spokesperson, while 20% give the company’s website top marks. Despite how much time journalists spend on social media, just 3% said they trust blogs and social media channels.
Most journalists are happy to work with PR professionals, provided they’re giving them information that’s accurate, newsworthy, jargon-free, relevant to the journalist, and that can be used to enhance coverage. Journalists want a clearly stated news hook, reported 45% of the survey respondents.
The biggest challenges
More than one-quarter of respondents (38%) said staffing and resources were the biggest challenges in journalism in the last 12 months. Social networks and search engines that bypass traditional media outlets were a close second at 25%. Ongoing conversations on fake news, blurred lines between editorial and advertising, and issues around freedom of the press rounded out the list of challenges.
The proliferation of fake news, typically created by “troll farms” and those on the extreme ends of the political spectrum, was the third most pressing challenge over the last 12 months. More than half said “fake news” is making readers more skeptical about the content they read, including news produced by respected reporters, while 46% are still unsure of how these untrue stories will impact their organization in the future.
But there may be a bright side to the fake news phenomenon: 21% of respondents said that it’s increasing the importance of journalistic standards, while 9% said that it’s improving the popularity of trusted and established media brands.
Asked which new technology will change the way journalists work the most, 34% said new social media algorithms. Specifically, Facebook’s recent news feed and algorithm updates was cited as having the biggest impact on their jobs. More than a quarter said that better and cheaper video production technology would influence their work, while 21% think artificial intelligence and machine learning will improve the way they analyze traffic and performance data and predict readership trends.
Journalism is dealing with several challenges these days, but the PR industry can help news outlets navigate these choppy waters. PR professionals who can help reporters and editors with their work — by providing accurate, information-rich press releases, stacked with original data and expert sources, along with a stable of spokespeople ready upon request — will be the ones who will succeed the most.
For more on the state of media in 2018, download the full report here.