I was watching the late news on Friday night and saw a story on the challenges that CTVglobemedia is facing. The Vancouver Sun has a good article on what the media giant is dealing with. Being a media junkie and a communicator, I have been watching the shift in the media for quite some time – but on Friday, it really hit me that the news business is in trouble and not just in Canada. Denver’s Rocky Mountain News closed its doors on Friday. According to many reports, there are a lot of other print papers in economic trouble – including the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune.
The recession has certainly hurt all of these media outlets. The big advertisers aren’t buying what they were and everyone is being affected by cut backs in spending.
For some of these media conglomerates, like CTVglobemedia, there are other issues that are facing, including the cost of doing business in the face of growing cable networks. These are big issues and ones that these companies and the CRTC need to find a way to solve to everyone’s satisfaction and benefit.
There is another point that I think isn’t being covered as much and I believe it has had a huge impact on mainstream media – it’s the online world. The Internet has changed everything. People want to be communicated with differently now and this is a challenge for some of the big news organizations. When we had Kirk LaPointe of The Vancouver Sun in as a guest speaker to one of our Conversation Over Coffee sessions earlier this year, he spoke quite candidly on the topic. I think Kirk really “gets it” and is focused on finding a new paradigm for media. But they aren’t there yet, in part because the audience is still evolving and discovering what and how we want it – when it comes to receiving and sharing information online.
While it has taken more than a decade, the majority of us turn to the Internet for news, information and connection. There are more opportunities now for an organization to share information. Your story might not make it onto the television broadcast or in the newspaper, but it might be covered online. And of course, it isn’t just mainstream media that puts out news and information now – bloggers, people on Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and YouTube are all sources that people turn to. There are great opportunities to reach out and tell a story through other channels, often channels that provide an opportunity for feedback, conversation and an authentic connection.
I read a lot of blogs and I love them. But I can usually tell if a blog writer has a journalism background without reading their bio. There is a recognizable approach to reporting and writing that trained journalists bring to their work.
Journalists are an important part of how we hear about what is going on in the world and they are crucial in our society. A great journalist can bring clarity to a complex situation. Well researched articles that are thought out and provide an unbiased context are invaluable.
I worked at Maclean’s for a long time and while I still look forward to receiving the hard copy magazine each week, I don’t wait. I am online checking it out, along with about a dozen other mainstream media, a whole lot of blogs, and other online publications. My Twitter feed (I use Twitterpod) sits on my desktop and I watch information roll as I work. I think it is going to take people like Kirk to help lead mainstream media into a sustainable business model – and I hope it happens sooner than later. Good journalism is an important component of an informed society. And as a communicator, I am a big fan of a community that has access to a range of information from a variety of sources.