Journalism in the Digital Age

Uncategorized Posted May 8, 2012 by Jennifer Torode

My colleagues and I attended Business Wire’s “Meet the Media” event on May 3, 2012 at the Westin Waltham Hotel. The event was geared towards PR professionals looking to learn directly from local reporters themselves about the latest trends in journalism especially in todays’ ever-growing Digital news world, what kind of news editors are looking for, and how to effectively pitch a story. I always love to attend these events for many reasons. It’s a great place to reconnect with old friends, former colleagues and other local PR professionals and of course, meet the press face to face. The event was moderated by the very poised Sanford Paek, Group Vice President, Eastern US at Business Wire and the panel of speakers included:

George Donnelly – Executive Editor, Boston Business Journal (BBJ)
Abby Jordan – Associate Regional Editor, AOL’s
Leigh Montgomery – Librarian, Christian Science Monitor
Frank Quaratiello – Business Editor, Boston Herald
Don Seiffert – Associate Editor, News, Mass High Tech

The playful banter between friends and competitors George Donnelly of the BBJ and Frank Quaratiello of the Boston Herald added some extra spice to the already very interesting and insightful panel discussion. Each panelist brought his or her own point of view as to how the internet’s ever- increasing use of mobile devices and apps, and the insatiable appetite to get news when it happens has changed how reporters write, respond and tell their stories. One thing that was unanimous across the panel was that the news media business has been altered permanently thanks to the digital age and those who want to remain relevant and in demand must adapt or risk falling by the wayside.

Here are some highlights:
• Readers want news instantly and reporters want to be the first to break a story. For reporters, deadlines have become even tighter as more has shifted online. They must get to the point a lot quicker than in the past as there’s a sea of competing content, other news sites and streams (Twitter, blogs, etc.) fighting for the readers’ attention.

• Print is still alive despite readers spending more time online to get the latest news. Some media outlets such as the Boston Herald are seeing revenue from their print newspaper thanks to those readers who fancy getting a little ink on their fingers. One panelist of course chimed in saying that regardless of some publications experiencing modest increases in print revenue, in the long term print will not “pay the bills.”

• Paid vs. non-paid/free online subscriptions. Media outlets must continue to monitor and adjust their business models to remain profitable. The debate that online news should be free is still very present. One panelist felt that news should remain free because most publications/sites are able to gain revenue from other sources such website advertisements and mobile apps. Time will tell but one panelist noted that The Wall Street Journal – though admittedly having an audience un-phased by paying for online subscriptions— has a very profitable business model and is the poster child for online paid subscriptions.

• Online news outlets provide better readership analytics as they can more effectively measure the number of page views, comments, tweet/re-tweets, etc. Most panelists agreed but one cautioned that although analytics paint a good picture of what’s working and what’s not, it’s not always 100 percent and there are always elements that should be weighed with a grain of salt.

Posted by Jennifer Torode