How has the relationship between journalists and PR agencies changed in the digital age?
Get to know the results from Canela’s Report on Digital Communication and it’s effect on journalism.
The fact that you are reading this article on your PC, tablet or smartphone is proof of how the Internet and digital technologies have changed communication. These changes also affect the relationship between journalists and public relations agencies, as showed in a report we presented recently. Here is a summary of the findings:
We recently presented the Report on Digital Communication during the first edition of the Desayunos Club Agencias event in Barcelona. The report is based on a survey which we conducted among 104 professionals who work in Spanish media. The aim of the study was to analyse how the relationship between journalists and PR agencies has changed in the digital era. Below you can see a summary of the most significant data, which has generated a debate on social networks, and you can download the full version of the report here.
53% of journalists believe that the PR agencies´ work is still important.
The first relevant data of the study confirms that agencies continue to play an important role in the journalists´ access to information: 53% of respondents consider that the agencies´ relevance has increased; compared to 47% who think it has decreased. However, the relationship between journalists and communication agencies has changed in the past years: it is not based anymore on press conferences and press releases (which have lost importance for 68% and 53% respectively). Instead, other formats with higher added value, such as interviews and personalized contacts, have gained importance.
82,18% of journalists consider that media credibility has decreased.
One of the most worrying findings from the study is the journalists´ opinion on the impact their work has in the society. Eight out of ten respondents believe that the credibility of the media has declined in recent years.
What is the reason for this loss of credibility? Respondents have pointed out aspects such as pressure prior to print deadline (93,17%), hazy borders between editorial and paid content (79%), the dependence on prefabricated materials (58,41%) and the growing importance of the PR professionals (66%).
Still, this is not everything. Recently an article in The New York Times article warned that in Spain “the rapid restructuring of a shrinking industry – more than 11,000 journalists have lost their jobs here in seven years – has also prompted mounting concerns over whether Spain´s most established papers have lost their editorial independence amid the financial squeeze”.
Seven out of ten journalists have suffered cutbacks, increased workload and increased job insecurity.
The “financial concerns” mentioned in The New York Times article have a direct impact on the working conditions for journalists, which have got worse in recent years due to budget cuts (84% of respondents), increased workload (83%), less time for research (79%) among others.
Taking this into account, it doesn´t come as a surprise that more and more journalists are looking for new professional opportunities to perform their job.
76,9% of journalists think that creating a digital publication is a possible job opportunity.
Job loss and deteriorating working conditions have led to many journalists creating their own digital media, such as Eldiario.es founded by Ignacio Escolar, former director of the newspaper Público or El Español founded by Pedro J. Ramírez, former director of El Mundo, also one out of three journalists is a freelance or an editor of a media, according to the Press Association of Madrid. In our survey, 34,6% of journalists are seriously considering founding a digital media as a business opportunity, while other 42,3% considers it as something probable although it has its own drawbacks and only 23 % doesn’t even consider it.
74,25% of journalists work in an online media and just 12,85% in exclusively print media.
The interest of Spanish journalists for online media has an explanation: Internet has become the main platform for journalism. Most of them work in digital media or printed media with a digital version; just thirteen out of hundred journalists belong to a media that is not online.
In addition, we shouldn´t forget that, from 2008, according to the Press Association of Madrid, 284 Spanish media have closed, magazines and newspapers mostly. On the other hand, in the same period of time, 300 new digital publications have been created.
All indications are that this trend will continue in the coming years: for example, 51,46% of the survey participants believe that the number of newspapers will decline and 70,87% that Internet television will grow.
Advertising will finance new media because just 11% of Spanish people pay subscription to news.
Finally, we asked journalists who participated in the survey how they think that emerging media can be financed. 75% think that advertisement will be the main source of incomes, above subscriptions (66%) or pay for article (61%). The reality is that just 11% of Spanish people pay to access online news, according to the Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2015.
These are the main results of the study we conducted in collaboration with 104 professionals who work in media in Spain: 38,37% are editors or freelancers, 25,38 are editor-in-chief and 15,32% are managing directors. We want to thank all of them for saving a moment of their scarce and valuable tiem!
You can download the Report on Digital Communication Confluences here.
What is the result that has surprised you most?