We are Christina and Peter Pilarski, founders and leaders of CIPR Communications For this episode, we invited former journalist turned broadcaster, Jason Hewlett, to give his perspective on the changing media landscape and how journalism and public relations have both changed as a result.
From journalism to PR
When Jason started as a journalist, he was working in a newsroom with a team of about 12 people. Although he had to write three or four stories a day, there was time and space to dedicate to really strong stories that required more investigation and research, and not so much of an emphasis on the sheer volume of copy. By the time he left his post, the news team had been cut in half, and he was having to write double the amount of stories than he had previously. The push to migrate from print to the internet was well underway, journalists had to create more copy, faster than ever, and often had to spend as much time on Twitter as they were researching and writing their stories. It was a situation that just became untenable. The changes set in motion in that time are still ongoing, with several surprising developments still taking place. Just recently, for example, Jason discovered that his alma mater, Thompson Rivers University, is no longer running a journalism program. The profession of journalism is essentially disappearing, as anyone who has a story to tell can basically tell it themselves on the various platforms available.
It seems there is less of an emphasis on objective journalism and more of a PR slant on everything. Many people who studied journalism now find that there is no work for them except in public relations. In organizations where you could previously speak directly to someone in an operational position, you now find yourself facing a dedicated publicity agent.
From the journalist or broadcaster’s perspective, the potential stories still come in thick and fast. When you’re working in digital media, having to update content continually on a 24-hour news cycle, you tend to grab what you can. The demand for content is almost limitless. This means that the right questions aren’t always being asked, as the focus is on producing endless quantities of content.
With the media being in constant flux, the roles of journalists and PR agents are shifting too. Legacy media may be contracting, but digital media is expanding faster than most people can keep up with. This makes it more challenging than ever to draw up a media strategy, but it also means that there are exciting new opportunities to get exposure and create content.