Journalists — more overworked, still underpaid
Call her a preditor.
Elisa Lagos was an Edward R. Murrow and Peabody award-winning TV producer for ABC News. Make that editor. Make that both.
Elisa, now a communications associate at World Education Services, attended my 2015 NOT Your Father’s News Release Master Class. There, she shared that she wasn’t alone doing double duty at ABC. In fact, many broadcasters now have two, two, TWO jobs in one.
How are journalists’ jobs changing — and, more important, how can you adapt your PR pieces to these changes?
Journalists are overwhelmed …
Here’s how reporters’ lives have changed in the last few years:
- Three in 10 journalists are gone. Employment has sunk 30% since 2002, according to Pew’s “State of the News Media” study. Now journalists look to their left, and there’s nobody there. Fewer hands means more work for the remaining staff.
- Their jobs are expanding. At the same time journalists are doing the jobs — and covering the beats — of one and a half reporters, they’re adding new duties. Nearly six in 10 journalists surveyed by PWR New Media have added web work to their existing responsibilities. They’re not just reporting, they’re also blogging, producing the infographic and making the video. Bloggeographer, anyone?
- There’s no letting up. The news cycle? 24/7. The news hole? Infinite.
- It’s tough out there. No wonder nearly seven out of 10 journalists believe their jobs have gotten harder over the past five years, according to a 2014 survey by media platform ISEBOX.
This problem will only grow worse. I had lunch with a friend from The New York Times recently. Every day, he told me, he looks around at his colleagues and asks, “How can the Times afford to keep paying all of these salaries?”
… And you can help.
How can we take advantage of — wait, I mean help, given — this sad situation? (Hey, we can be preditory, too, right?)
1. Write releases that are ready to be read. Instead of the hierarchical blurtation of facts that makes up most releases, why not write a story? A real story, that’s ready for publication.
Best-case scenario: You’ll convince a reporter that there’s a story here, worthy of pursuing. Worst case: A busy journalist publishes it as is.
“We found official press releases often appear word for word in first accounts of events, though often not noted as such,” according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project.
2. Make it easy on the journalist. Write a one-minute release and hit 60 or 70 points on the Flesch Reading Ease scale. Make it easy to scan with display copy, such as subheads, bullets and bold-faced lead-ins.
3. Deliver the goods. Include the infographics, images, videos and other news assets journalists need to do all of their jobs.
In other words, become a preditor yourself.