How the Media Consumes News

This article originally appeared in MediaShift.



Technology has changed almost every aspect of news, except for possibly the most important one: Traditional news editors and journalists still write the vast majority of the stories we read and consume.

As PR professionals, we underestimate the business of traditional media relations at our peril. We are still in the business of building relationships, being sensitive to reporters’ needs, and serving as a bridge between what journalists want to cover and the agendas of the brands we represent.

So while we obsess over how changes in technology have changed news consumption, far less attention has been paid to how these changes have affected those who still write the news – the editors and journalists themselves.

In June, my team – Ogilvy Media Influence – conducted a survey of leading editors, producers and reporters across 23 of our Ogilvy offices worldwide. As part of the survey, we assessed how media themselves consume news, what sources they trust and what tools they use to tell and sell their stories. Our team spoke with over 200 journalists from a range of outlets across traditional or legacy outlets, digital-first publications and even prominent bloggers in North America, Asia Pacific and EMEA.

New Platforms Biggest Influence On Newsrooms

More than half of those we interviewed (54 percent) said that the emergence of new platforms is the biggest trend facing newsrooms today; they have to produce content that resonates on new and different types of screens more than ever before – especially social media as people consume content anywhere and everywhere today.

However, social media was also where reporters looked for inspiration on what to cover; shining a light on what matters to people in real time.

Who To Trust?
In a world with growing demand for content, this is extremely useful, but also poses a dilemma. How, where readers have access to many of the same sources journalists do, can you know who and what to trust and prevent the news becoming an unverified echo-chamber?

Quite simply, you go with what you know. Our survey results revealed that most of the journalists we spoke to (72 percent) still trusted traditional outlets like The Financial Times and BBC more than any other. Even if they are more likely to find those stories through a new platform like Snapchat, it still matters who wrote and posted the stories in the first place.

In the early 2000s, blogging and early social media platforms promised to be a way for people to break and publish the news themselves. The rise of trusted citizen journalism changed the game but it did not lead to the demise of all established traditional news outlets as some had predicted.

Instead the explosion of un-curated content from brands, new publishers and individuals began to overwhelm online audiences. Contradictory information from unfamiliar sources is everywhere. Brands and individuals are often nakedly self-interested and under-qualified to provide verifiable and engaging content.

Being a trusted source of curated content – what traditional media outlets have always been – is more important and frankly, more needed than ever to help manage the global news agenda. What is also important is that we as PR professionals continue to work with our clients to successfully work in today’s modern communications environment and continue to leverage the power of earned media to build the business of our clients.



Ben King, account director on the Ogilvy Media Influence team contributed to this piece.

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