Journalism is hard hit by the corona crisis. How will journalism survive? Here is a summary of impressions about the development of (print) journalism in the Western world.
1. Journalism is vital for information in a democracy especially in this corona crisis. Credible information and fighting fake news in the pandemic is a priority. The New York Times almost has a day job in correcting Trump. Journalists should be free to do research, find the facts and interview key persons. Hungary put journalist almost under censorship to fight what is called fake news by the government. The Czech Republic is limiting access of the media to government officials.
2. The demand for credible information is rising, more page views at online media, small rise in subscription. Newspapers sides in the US saw visits to their online news sides doubling.
2.1 Because of the high demand for information some media are making corona news free, for example the New York Times.
3. However the rising demand for information and the surge in page views does not cause an increase in income of the media. Esp print media are losing income because decreasing advertisements. In the UK for example advertising revenues are taking a massive blow. Some local publishers say they are down by 50%, some national titles by 30%.
4. The consequences of this drop in income is obvious. Newsrooms are closing; journalist are laid off or furloughed; part time contracts are not renewed; and free lance activities are scaled down. A New York Times analysisfound that more than 28,000 news media employees in the United States have been subject to pay cuts, furloughs or layoffs since the corona virus started to spread across the country. In Australia News Corp, the Rupert Murdoch-controlled publishing group, has suspended the print editions of 60 newspapers
5. News media and the journalists are vital for democracy in this crisis, help from the government is unavoidable. Especially local media need help. In Denmark for example the government discussed to allocate around €24m to save local media. The Guardian in the UK writes about an interesting proposal to save journalism as an essential public good. The NUJ launched its own news recovery planwhich suggested a windfall tax of 6% on digital firms.
5.1 Google already understands the problem and is offering help for newsrooms. The company isn’t disclosing the size of what it’s calling its Journalism Emergency Relief Fund, but in a blog post, Google VP of News Richard Gingras said the goal is to fund “thousands of small, medium and local news publishers globally,” through awards ranging from “low thousands of dollars for small hyper-local newsrooms to low tens of thousands for larger newsrooms, with variations per region.”
6. Newsroom could be locked down because of protections measures against the virus but journalist are continuing work. Remote, from home and in small teams. “The newsrooms that will survive and thrive in a post-COVID-19 world will be the newsrooms that embrace the shift to distributed teams”, writes Niemanlab . The NYTimes wrote about their changes in the newsroom: “Journalists across more than a dozen departments, and a few continents, are stepping up — and shuffling roles — to meet the challenge”.
6.1 Now that we work remote and online for a longer period traveling will change. Video conferencing proved to more efficient, saving time and money. Zooming in stead of flying. Working on a story together with a small team is a piece of cake using Teams. And finally training data journalism could be helped by using e-learning environments like Moodle.
7. In reporting on the pandemic data are vital. Understanding numbers and visualizations are highly demanded qualifications. Data journalism: analyzing data - corona data - with free tools for a wide audience is a top priority.