When we all emerge from this pandemic, it will be a very different media landscape. We have seen that movies and television shows have delayed productions around the world and many of our much loved media titles, might not exist, as they struggle for survival.
Though television can be consumed while we are in lockdown, the creation of it still involves bringing people together on set. Widespread efforts to curb COVID-19 has triggered unprecedented change in the TV business. Where productions have stalled, writers’ rooms have moved to teleconferencing and radio presenters have guests either zooming or phoning in.
Many alternative weeklies have stopped printing and laid off employees, because of sharp advertising declines, as many businesses have stopped operating or sadly gone bust.
Journalists, photographers and advertising staff at print titles have lost their jobs and fear they will fear that they will not be re-employed when the crisis is over as sales and advertising revenues are not expected to return to pre-virus levels. Long-term, this crisis could have a devastating effect to the news industry’s bottom line.
Though there have been faint glimmers of light, where I have read how online news platforms have seen a spike in web traffic and subscriptions, as the pandemic has attracted record-breaking audiences for online news sources. Traffic to The Guardian’s website has increased more than 50 percent exceeding all previous records, and there had been a substantial surge in the number of readers taking out digital subscriptions or signing up to make regular contributions to support its journalism.
However, it’s worth noting that media outlets like The Guardian have long struggled to earn substantial revenue from digital advertising.
Yet, while we are now all addicted to the news, wanting accurate information. UK national print newspaper sales have fallen by as much as 30 percent since the start of the government-ordered coronavirus lockdown, according to industry sources, with journalists at many local newspapers placed on leave and warnings that hundreds of reporters could be left without jobs as the advertising market collapses.
On top of this, so many independent newsagents have closed, and supermarkets are expected to cut the numbers of copies of media titles they take because of reduced footfall. Free newspapers have also been hit by the collapse in commuters and ad revenue, with London’s Evening Standard adopting an improvised door-to-door delivery model, with a reduced circulation of just over 400,000 copies being posted through letterboxes in the center of the capital.
Rasmus Kleis Nielsen, director of the Reuters Institute at the University of Oxford told The Guardian that he predicts “huge declines in advertising revenues” owing to the looming recession that is likely to result in hundreds or even thousands of job losses in British journalism. He has predicted the economic effects of the pandemic could potentially remove 10 percent of all frontline journalistic jobs in the UK.
Nielsen voiced a concern of many in the industry, when he said a particular worry for British newspapers was that remaining print readers would lose the habit of reading a physical product during the lockdown.
No industry is being left untouched, many will have to innovate and change their business models to make a comeback and be part of the new world…a phoenix rising from the ashes.
Photo Credits: Sean McMenemy and Geralt