More Journalists Lose Jobs As Media Giants Lose Out On Readers, Ad Revenue

Death of print journalism is nearing. Here is the proof: Earlier this month, two Massachusetts daily newspapers shut shop, after catering to their readers for over 135 years.

Reportedly, the Malden Evening News and Medford Daily Mercury, both founded in 1880, were struggling to keep up with their ad revenue.

Patrick Horgan, a member of the family that owned the newspapers, said that finding people to advertise for the print edition was a challenge. As a result, the newspapers were struggling to make ends meet. He said that the advertisers were also struggling financially.”We just didn’t know where our revenue would come from,” he told AP.

In the online space, big media outlets are also looking at ways to cutdown human journalists and use news bots instead.

Shailesh Prakash, CIO and VP of digital product development at the Washington Post, admitted that it’s impossible to hire more journalists, as the company would go bankrupt.

“Growing is where you need a machine to help you, because we can’t have that many humans. We’d go bankrupt,” he said.

The Post started using Heliograf software last year. According to Wired, the news bot works like this: “Editors create narrative templates for the stories, comprising key phrases that account for a variety of potential outcomes. They they hook Heliograf up to any source of structured data. Heliograf identifies relevant data, matches it with the corresponding phrases in the template, merges them, and then publishes different versions across different platforms.”

According to Official U.S. Labor Department data, the numbers showed the newspaper sector lost 271,800 jobs in the period from January 1990 to March 2016, or 59.7 percent of the total over the past 26 years.

Good news for online journalism

Despite massive job cuts, there seems to be good news for online journalists. A report by AFP pointed out that employment in Internet publishing and broadcasting, meanwhile, rose from about 30,000 to nearly 198,000, as per the data available with Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

The skyrocketing growth in online journalism has coincided with a drop of some 27 percent of the jobs in radio and, to an extent, print editions.

Meanwhile in India…

Recently, in India, The Telegraph, run by ABP Group, fired 700 journalists.

In January, another Indian publication HT Media, the publisher of Hindustan Times, shut down four editions and three bureaus, including its business bureau in Mumbai and Delhi, resulting in massive job cuts.

“Ironically, many journalists in HT Media’s Mumbai bureau who were forced to put down their papers have been asked to freelance for the publication because the paper is now finding it hard to fill its pages,” a Mumbai-based journalist told Medianama.

The pattern clearly shows sacking of journalists mostly in the print division.

How could journalists save their jobs?

Gone are the days when an English language journalist’s primary job was to write stories and send it to the editing team.

Today, a journalist must think multi-screen and create interactive storytelling strategies that will keep the readers glued to the page.

According to BBC, one needs to be a multi-skilled reporter telling a story for TV, radio and online or it can mean running a newsroom where journalists working in different media collaborate.

Besides being a reporter with impeccable grammar skills, journalists must also familiarize themselves with basic designing, video-editing, and data visualization skills. This way, they could tell stories without much dependence on sub-editors or the design team.

Curating and comprehending content from several reliable sources and offering an analytical viewpoint will help news organizations stand apart from their competition.

Understanding preferences and habits of readers will make the journalist competent. Rather than coming up with stories that journalists want to write, they need to figure out what the reader wants and cater to that audience.

[Featured Image by Fotolia/AP Images]

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