Journalism: Post-pandemic

Reporters and media personnel speak about the future of journalism

For many years, the future of journalism has been predicted to transition from print to digital. This type of transition worries many news organizations and the impact it will have on journalists. This prediction has come true amid COVID-19. 

Photo of an old New York newsroom, taken from Pixabay.

Journalists have to adjust to new routines, such as working at home, which impacts their stories. Living with her two kids, Rita Trichur, a senior business writer for The Globe and Mail, finds it tough to balance her personal life and reporting. “I’m completely stressed,” she said in an interview in mid-June with The Toronto Observer. “There have been times where I have to tell my manager: ‘I need to extend my deadline.’”  

Due to COVID-19’s drag on the economy, journalists such as Josh O’Kane, once the Technology Reporter for The Globe and Mail, has been moved to report on small business. Though the change in position hasn’t impacted his routine, the newsrooms adjustments because of the pandemic have. “I think it’s much easier to get a breaking story where everything is fast-paced, and you’re physically in constant communication with your editors,” O’Kane said. “You’ll know your story better by you’re getting to know your sources. Which is much easier to do in person.” 

News organizations such as Torstar are laying off staff members, too. According to a Toronto Star news story, Torstar announced in April the elimination of  85 positions. The layoffs were due to the drop in advertising revenue, despite an increase in readership during COVID-19. 

Other publishing companies affected include VICE Media Group, which announced a cut of 155 employees in May due to the lack of revenue from audiences and advertising during the pandemic. The Athletic, a subscription-based sports website, laid off 46 journalists in June, and cut staffers’ salaries by 10 per cent for the rest of 2020. 

Other news organizations are trying to avoid laying off their employees by instituting pay cuts or providing furlough. According to Variety Magazine, Jonah Peretti, CEO of Buzzfeed, decided to furlough 68 employees, without pay, for three months while Vox Media furloughed 9 per cent of its employees, without compensation for three months. 

These changes and cuts are happening because there was a considerable decrease in revenue for all news organizations. “Everybody is down… whether you’re Bell Media, Corus, or CBC, revenues are down, and that will ultimately have an impact,” said CBC news correspondent David Common in a June 19 webinar.

Advertising revenue, specifically print, is a significant source of income for news organizations.“There’s no comparison with newspaper ads to digital ads in revenue,” Rosie DiManno, Columnist at the Toronto Star said in a phone interview with The Toronto Observer. 

COVID-19 is turning news organizations toward digital fast, decreasing print readership, which ultimately creates a negative impact on revenue and the future of journalism. 

“I think the newspapers that are going to continue to thrive and survive in this time, are really going to have to rethink their business model because advertising and print advertising is not going to come back from the levels that we saw before this crisis,” Trichur said.

This pandemic pushed news outlets toward an all digital news organization rapidly.

“I think, unfortunately, there’s going to be a lot less [print] newspapers in the next five years, and less still in 10 years,” Phillip Crawley, CEO at The Globe and Mail said during a webinar in May.

Not only could a transition from print to digital shrink the journalism job market, but it could bring and end to the printing and distribution of traditional newspapers.

“I hope with all my heart that we still have newspapers, as opposed to shifting completely to digital. Because, you know, I’m old school. To me, it’s not real unless it’s on paper,” DiManno said.

The original version of this story misspelled the company name, Corus, and included an incorrect link to webinar information. The Toronto Observer regrets these errors.

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Posted: Jul 6 2020 12:00 pm
Filed under: Features Living Room Newsroom