by Bianca Ghose
May 21st, 2014

Newsrooms have an aura about them. Always have, still do. A picture of systematic chaos, bold statements, quick turnarounds.

Sometime in the last five years though, news got ‘napsterized’: everyone started communicating with everyone and everyone started contributing to the news stream with information and views. Via the Internet.

Today everyone is practicing digital publishing. It has become inseparable from the practice of journalism.

Vanishing Jobs

All across the world, newsrooms are shrinking, leaving journalists with far fewer resources to deal with in a rapidly changing industry. Corporate consolidations, the complexities of reporting on the modern society and the always-on digital news cycle has placed unprecedented demands on the profession of journalism. The sheer number of news publications and broadcast stations is resulting in lower viewership, which translates into lower ad revenues. Coupled with higher investments towards setting up newsrooms, and in acquiring, training and retaining journalistic talent – legacy media is having it real tough.

As newsrooms get restructured across the globe, it is important to understand if Indian journalists see the Internet as a threat or as an opportunity. Journalism, after all, is supposed to help us cope with the information-glut. And the Internet hasn’t made that easy.

Understanding The Changing News Cycle

At Weber Shandwick, we wanted to understand and document the changing news media landscape so that we can change the way we practice PR and continue to deliver content that really resonates.

Weber Shandwick surveyed 130 journalists across India. These are women and men who have informed, engaged, educated their audiences. We included correspondents, desk editors and managing editors across all forms of print, broadcast and digital publications – across New Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore.

News Gathering Has Changed

The survey shows 88% of Indian journalists spend over 4 hours online on any given workday. Interestingly, all the television journalists surveyed said they spend over 4 hours online everyday for work.

51% of the journalists surveyed said they trust social media, corporate websites & third-party blogs as a credible information source. It wasn’t surprising then to see the survey throw up online search as the first port of call for journalistic research. 30% of the journalists surveyed said they go online first to research a story.

The survey results are proof that migration of news to the Internet has become a background reality.

mediaco survey india infographic 1

A Faster Moving, Digital-First News Operation

The survey shows 32% of the Indian news media spends over 50% of its time producing content specifically for online consumption. 67% of those in the mainstream digital news space spend over half of their time on feeding the web while reporting their story.

The Internet is increasingly becoming the principal venue for news and commentary. Journalists, editors and all other content creators are increasingly splitting time between online and print.

In-housing Branded Content

The survey shows 61% of news organisations across India are publishing branded content. An overwhelming 50% of them said they are open to publishing branded video content, provided it is broadcast quality and factually sound.

It’s one of the most quietly talked about areas in the media industry today, but brand journalism or corporate journalism is a reality. Journalists surveyed indicated that branded content from companies that are rooted in the principles of traditional journalism and good storytelling, and created stories that are factual, balanced, well-investigated and compelling are being accepted by journalists, although it will still go through the editorial sieve before being published.

Interactive. All The Way.

The branded content that is getting picked up by Indian journalists is usually visually rich – 57% of the published branded content is between video, info graphics and images.

Does that mean the future of news media is “post text?” Certainly not. Words will continue to have incredible power, but news consumers today seem to prefer explanations of world events that use info graphics, video, animated GIFs and interactive multimedia.

Embracing The Digital Future

The survey shows 60% of Indian journalists are active users of Facebook & Twitter. Furthermore, they use their personal social platforms to syndicate their news stories. It doesn’t just end with publishing – 69% of Indian journalists surveyed said they are engaging online with people who comment on their stories.

Mediaco survey India infographic 2

Multimedia storytelling is becoming more a part of journalism, and less an afterthought. And while the core of journalism – finding knowledge in information – has not changed, the sources and forms of info have.

For an industry in the midst of change, diminishing profits and complicated demands, adopting new digital innovations for storytelling will be a key part of their success. Afterall, a news piece is now only as good as its distribution channels.

 

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