A few weeks back, The Times announced it was abandoning breaking news, to focus more on considered, analysis pieces. A couple of tech trade publications have taken similar decisions over the last year. A Guardian article back in March explained how current affairs magazines, which actively shun breaking news, such as Private Eye, The Economist, and New Statesman, are defying the death of print. Meanwhile Trinity Mirror Group’s New Day, which focused on presenting printed news in bitesize, social media-friendly chunks, folded last week after only two months.
None of this is surprising. Access to breaking news is valuable, but hundreds of publications telling the same story becomes boring. The rush to get there first, means compromising fact checking, analysis and background research. Far better would be to leave breaking news to a handful of publications dedicated to doing so, and for the rest to focus on analysing that news, providing context, interviewing those involved, and offering opinion – theirs or others – on it.
If this happens, quality of journalism will go up. This is good for consumers, who can make more informed decisions, and good for journalists, who can write the stores they always wanted to but never had the time.
But it’s also good for PRs, who will be driven to gathering and providing the media with much more interesting content from their clients, finding ideas that can be shared and working with journalists to develop great stories, not just farming out the same lines over and over. And the result will be better quality articles that our clients can be genuinely proud to have played a part in.
To some PRs, of course, this will be bad news. Journalists desperate to fill space and file stories within minutes of them breaking has been a gift to the cynical PR who sits refreshing their Google news feed until a story comes up which allows them to send out some generic client message to a readymade bcc list. But for many, and for the media world as a whole, it will be good news.
The PR industry is set up to respond to media demands. If those demands are for speed and quantity, that is what PR will provide. If the media shifts to wanting informed, insightful comments and interviews with experts, PR will evolve to provide that. For those of us that prefer the latter, it seems there are reasons to be optimistic.
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