The general contraction of media and journalism has led to the loss of hundreds, if not thousands of journalists and it’s a continuing trend.
This haemorrhaging of writers worldwide has been particularly brutal in science and health journalism. Conversely there is now more pressure for journalists to create more ‘news’ content than ever. So as the number of writers contract, the content rises and ironically this is where public relations helps fill a real need.
Following mass redundancies at Australia’s two main print media organisations – News Corp Australia and Fairfax Media, the journalist’s workload has increased. PR companies are much more heavily relied upon in the current news climate.
A recent UK study out of Cardiff University of science journalists backs this up, as it found 25 per cent of respondents reporting they now use more PR than previously, while 53 per cent said workloads had increased “a lot” in the last five years.
The study states that, “there is a general sense that PR has become an increasingly important presence over the last decade. Principally as an agenda setter, providing initial ideas for stories and a jumping off point for the journalistic research which follows.”
Almost all of the journalists surveyed admitted checking PR wires as part of their daily work routine.
PR, when done well, will provide the journalist with most of what they require to publish an informative and accurate piece of journalism. The good PR practitioner nowadays will source the appropriate comments, statistics and if they are a good writer, will provide a great angle and introduction, such that many press releases are published in toto.
In particular, in the areas of health and science, there is often a great deal of statistical and technical data and information to be researched, read, analysed and interpreted, and with the modern journalist operating in such a lean newsroom, a savvy PR practitioner who has already done the leg work for them becomes even more important.
While many lament the reduction of the newsroom, it has just become part of the way the modern media industry operates given the current business, economic and internet driven climate. PR companies are well-placed to seize the opportunity and to strive to fill the gap left by the shrinkage of the 21st century newsroom.