Fewer Journalists with More Work: What It Means for PR Pros


Kimberly N. Alleyne

There was a time when newsrooms looked like this:

Washington Post newsroom

These days, they look more like this:

David Sim, Creative Commons
David Sim, Creative Commons

Near empty.

Since 2006, the number of full-time newspaper journalists has dwindled steadily each year. In its 2013, the American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) reported in its annual newspaper census that in 2012 the number of full-time editorial jobs dropped 6.4 percent from 2011. This decrease–to 38,000– marked the first time the count has been lower than 40,000 since the start of ASNE’s census in 1978.

Newspaper Jobs ASNE

Simply, the remnant of journalists who have survived layoffs or even closures are doing much more with much fewer resources—and much less time. They’re covering more beats, interviewing more people, and writing more stories against deadline.

What does that mean for public relations professionals who are managing reputations and/or seeking media coverage? It means several things:

  • Firstly, make a journalist’s job easier. You can do that by writing ready-to-publish stories that include quality, high resolution photos (and video if available), infographics, and any other elements that will enhance your chances of getting press. Immerse yourself in the reporting process: What questions might a journo want to know? Find the answers and write them up; send them to the journalist you’re approaching and include quotes. Know your subject matter. Be available and respond in a timely manner.
  • Embrace corporate journalism by creating your own news. The more content *read additive and valuable* you produce, the likelier your chances of receiving a call from a journo rather than the other way around. Make yourself a storyteller and people will listen.
  • Give more than you take. Pursue relationships over ink. As a prouno (prpro + journo), I can tell journalists appreciate it when you have a genuine interest in their work and are not always calling to ask for coverage. Find something to give, be it a news tip unrelated to cause or organization you represent or an introduction to a new  potential source.
JD Creative Commons Flickr
JD. Creative Commons Flickr; http://www.angryjournalists.com/t-shirt-store
  • Unfortunately, the trend of journalism’s shrinking newsrooms is not likely to reverse. That means it’s imperative for you to keep your media list updated.

What would you add to this list? Let me know at Kimberly at kimberlynalleyne.com


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