Archive for the 'Breaking News' Category

The New News Age

Around the world, we are experiencing a major shift in how we gather, distribute and receive our news. It’s funny, in a non ha-ha way, that I’ve had at least a dozen journalists from as near as my hometown to as far as Los Angeles and New York ask me what I think the future holds for news media. Those on the inside are just as lost as many are on the outside.

I was thinking this morning that it’s a bit like the other effects we are seeing in the world economy. You know, where giant monopolies took over certain sectors, and everyone bought stocks expecting to make millions, but then the mortgage crisis happened and lots of companies (and people) lost their shirts. Sounds familiar to us in media and PR, not just for the news value. When corporate monopolies bought up all the media, news also became about making money, not about passionate storytelling or finding the great little nuggets that make towns into communities.

I live in Victoria, the capital city of British Columbia. Our two commercial television stations are both at risk of closing, one in fact signs off the air on Monday. Many of our radio stations have been sold to off-island interests. Our daily newspaper, the Times Colonist, features regular articles from the National Post, the Vancouver Sun, or The Province. Financially, that makes sense as they are all owned by Canwest. Except, and this is a big except, people stop reading papers with less local coverage, ad sales drop and good reporters are unable to work on local stories they are passionate about. The Times Colonist has already dropped its Monday edition, and I can’t help but wonder if the skinny little Tuesday paper will be next. And let’s face it, if it doesn’t make financial sense for Canwest to retain CHEK television, maybe we’re an audience that could be served by their Vancouver station. RIP local voices.

Of course, that’s about the business of news. Those with passion – the journalists, editors, news directors, filmmakers –  are the ones with the most to lose. Or are they? There are some very savvy entrepreneurs who are going straight to the audience.

For all the naysayers who say citizen journalism isn’t credible, think again. Take Salim Jiwa. An award-winning journalist with The Province, Jiwa took his buy-out this year and founded http://www.vancouverite.com, an online news site that covers both local and international news. While not exactly citizen journalism, www.vancouverite.com also isn’t a big online news aggregator like CNN or MSN. Jiwa has reciprocal arrangements with other news organizations to build his inventory of stories and takes leads from citizen journalists.

What does this mean for the public? Better access to reliable news, where and when you want it and the ability to interact instantly with those who report it.

What does it mean for those of us in public relations? We will see, but I leave you with this thought: If the story you are pitching isn’t newsworthy, you shouldn’t be pitching it in the first place.

Advertisements

Wherefore art thou, Canadian media?

CTV cuts 118 jobs

CTV cuts 118 jobs

Last night I attended an excellent evening hosted by Douglas business magazine in Victoria. Highlighting the Top 10 businesses to watch in Victoria, publishers also announced their new city lifestyle magazine YAM.

This is interesting news in challenging times. Earlier the same day, CTVglobemedia Inc. announced the layoffs of 118 staff at stations across Canada, including 18 at A Channel in Victoria. Just three months ago, Victoria’s other station, CHEK, layed off 19 staff and is for sale.

What’s the underlying story? Well at last night’s  event I ended up in the corner with a knot of local journalists and the subject naturally strayed to the current state of the media. It didn’t take much to agree that media is in decline, but we didn’t all agree on what’s next.

I fear newspapers are soon to be dead. Too bad, because I love spending weekend mornings in bed with a pot of tea and a stack of newspapers. But during the week, I depend on RSS feeds and my favourite news sites. Citizen journalists aren’t just a bunch of yahoos…many are professional journalists who are contributing to news sites as events unfold from around the world. This may be the new economic model, and the new social model. Heck, you’re reading a blog, aren’t you?

What does this mean for PR? More social media, yes, but we need to integrate these tools into other areas of PR. We also need to ensure that we remain accessible to ALL  people we need to consult and inform, otherwise our results are seriously skewed.