Gemma O’Reilly, prweek.com, 12 April 2010
The traditional media industry in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) is struggling to cope with digital media and headcount cuts owing to the economic crisis, according to a new survey of senior journalists.
Burson-Marsteller interviewed 115 senior journalists from 27 countries throughout the region for the study.
According to the survey, an enormous numbers of journalists were being put out of work. Eighty-one per cent of respondents said that they were experiencing cost-cutting measures in their editorial teams.
There was broad agreement among the journalists interviewed that the quality and standards of their trade were being diminished. Thirty-four per cent said that internal cost-cutting was the biggest threat to high quality journalism today, while 17 per cent said that digital media was the biggest threat.
There was no consensus, however, about whether the digital revolution taking place in their industry was a positive or negative development. Most agreed that new digital tools had given them unprecedented access to information. However, the increased competition, as well as the de-professionalisation of their trade through citizen journalism, were all cited as serious causes for concern. Twenty-seven per cent of respondents said that blogs had damaged journalism, while 13 per cent said social media sites such as Facebook had also had a detrimental effect.
As one senior French journalist said: ‘The internet makes it much more difficult to distinguish news from noise.’
The majority of journalists surveyed said that PR agencies played an increasingly vital role in their work, either as sources of relevant information, leads for stories, or as conduits to relevant sources. Almost half (47 per cent) said that they dealt with PR agencies more than in previous years, while 28 per cent said they saw agencies as a source of relevant information.
Dennis Landsbert-Noon, chairman of the EMEA media practice, said: ‘As the media industry undergoes these tremendous changes, there is both an onus on us to ensure that our standards remain exemplary, as well as an opportunity for us to use new and exciting digital tools to communicate with traditional journalists as well as a whole new digital and social media landscape.’