The changing media landscape

Published on
October 9, 2013

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In response to the dramatic changes in the media landscape in recent times, Australia’s major media organisations have made some significant changes in 2013.

Gone are the days of newspapers saving their best stories for the next print edition. The rise of online reporting and instantaneous social media has made journalism a 24-hour job where print, radio and television reporting is only part of the role. The majority of journalists report the day’s news long before submitting a story.

In the past 12 months, News Limited has implemented a bold strategy focused on adjusting the organisation – in particular its newsrooms – to the social, digital, and journalism changes facing the industry as a whole.

News Limited’s overhaul initially focused on simplifying its operations – transforming the 19 operating divisions into five. Centralised state newsrooms now deliver print, internet, tablet, smartphone, social, and broadcast media.

This strategy was focused on achieving cost efficiencies, reducing management duplication, and increasing copy-sharing between journalists and media outlets.

Fairfax Media has also restructured its metropolitan mastheads to streamline reporting, with all five Fairfax news sites now connected.

This ‘one city, one newsroom’ approach breaks the mould of the ‘beat’ journalist, who traditionally had one or several areas of expertise, and was considered the ‘go to’ journalist for specific industries.

In comparison, this new approach ensures reporting is both broad-based and widely shared within the company. Under this model, news will be easily and quickly distributed through a variety of channels.

This centralised approach also frees up resources for online channels, which is where an increasing number of readers are getting their news.

An example of News Limited’s expansion into the area was its purchase of Australian Independent Business Media, online publisher of Business Spectator and the Eureka Report.

Despite a renewed push to deliver news through diversified platforms, print news is not dead. In mid-2012, News Limited restated the importance of print news in the company’s mix – at a time when both News Limited and Fairfax had made significant cuts to staff numbers.

While integration with social media is a focus of both News Limited and Fairfax media, both publishers are sceptical of its monetary value and see it as an opportunity to draw readers to the news sites.

The ‘one city, one newsroom’ approach will have a range of implications for organisations implementing media relations programs.

Increased copy sharing between journalists will likely mean:
  • More news, more frequently: increased responsiveness by media outlets
  • Sharing is caring: greater syndication will decrease news focus on localised issues, and increased reporting of national/state issues
  • The beat is dead: fewer ‘beat’ reporters, in favour of generalists
  • Centralised news and narratives: stories will be increasingly applied to all platforms – print and digital.
To respond, business needs to consider a range of factors:
  • Increasingly, news – positive and negative – will have a social and digital presence
  • There is a growing need for media strategies and documents to be integrated and digitally enhanced: media kits, press releases, and holding statements
  • Forming relationships with a broad range of journalists is becoming necessary.

For further information about how the changing media landscape is impacting business, please contact Bruce Ruddy, Principal Client Director on 07 3229 4499 or bruce.ruddy@rowland.com.au