Cost Cutting in Business Journalism

January 6th, 2011

The recession of 2009 has taken its toll on all of us, but for business journalism it greatly escalated the erosion that was already well underway.

Publishers are experimenting with new business approaches like pay-walls, paid mobile applications and hybrid editorial/ad models like Forbes’ AdVoice, but there is no widely agreed-upon model to restore the link between content and earnings.

It’s clear that companies and public relations professionals have to work much harder and smarter to persuade fewer reporters with less time, bigger workloads and more responsibility to take interest in what they have to say.


Daily circulation has dropped by 26% since 2000—from 55.8 million to 41.3 million

Revenue has decreased by nearly 50%—from $47.7 billion to $24.8 billion
Several newspaper groups have declared bankruptcy including: Tribune Company, Journal Register Company, Minneapolis Star Tribune, Philadelphia Newspaper LLC, Sun-Times Media Group and Freedom Communications, Inc.

Newsroom workforce has decreased by 26%
USA Today laid off 9% of staff in Aug 2010.
Salt Lake City Desert News had a 43% staff reduction.
New York Times cut salaries and reduced staff by 8%.
Even the Wall Street Journal reduced staff.

72 daily newspapers have disappeared since 2000
Closed, acquired or adopted an online hybrid model.
Most notable: Rocky Mountain News, Baltimore Examiner, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Detroit News/Free Press and Christian Science Monitor.

So what do you do?

Leverage online: Some publishers are now reserving material for online publication only. These are not lesser venues. In fact, many reach a wider audience than print publications.

Build media lists carefully: Do not spray and pray. Clarify where you are going and the publication’s focus before pitching.

Go non-traditional: Freelancers and working reporters now write blogs. Use them, but do your homework and make sure that the topic fits.

Do more advance work: Lay out the story and support it with facts. Line up materials, contacts and resources before contacting a journalist.

Write smarter pitches: Do more research, use sharper reasoning and write more compelling presentations of story ideas to reporters. Back claims with facts.

Have patience: With fewer and busier reporters, it may take much more time to cultivate relationships and generate interest in your story.

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