I wish I had a nickle for every journalist I know who has taken me out to lunch in the last six months to ask for freelance writing assignments. It’s not news, but no one wants to pay journalists for content. For years, media outlets have been cutting people. Now, to make matters worse, newspapers are severing wonderful, seasoned journalists to hire young employees who will accept lower wages. In the US it is spawning a whole new career category for these displaced writers. It’s called “Brand Journalism.” Journalists are being hired by large enterprises to write stories about their brands to try to find them placement — we used to call it advertorial;)
What all of this means for those of us in PR is that our media lists have fewer and fewer names on them. At many traditional newspapers there is no one to talk to about local content. They are picking up more and more of their stories from syndication services. It’s come to the point where I am literally embarrassed for them.
Now follow the bouncing ball. I love history and archaeology. Right now I am reading a fascinating book about a brief window in William Shakespeare’s life when he lived on Silver Street in London. Called “The Lodger Shakespeare,” author Charles Nicholl has used a simple court statement to provide forensic analysis about this period in the bard’s life. So naturally, I greedily devoured a story in the Globe and Mail this morning about the archaeological finds being revealed by excavation for a new rail line in central London. When I turned to the National Post, I read their coverage as well to see if I could glean any additional nuggets. I was completely astonished to discover that much of the content was repeated word for word… they had obviously pulled the same story from the Associated Press. Bad.
For years we wondered whether two national newspapers could survive in Canada, but at least they represented different political perspectives. However, with both of them running the same stories, it is inevitable that one of them will have to go.
But I digress. It’s not all doom and gloom for the PR world. Even two years ago when we scored an online mention for a client, their first question was “Will it be in the print edition.” Today online results are receiving their due, and what a world it has opened to clients that previously reached only the local audience. Now the entire world is our market… and therein lies another challenge and a story for another day.