Local Media Landscape Disruption

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By Alicia Jacobs
Chair, PRSA Capital Region Membership
Communications Manager, Excelsior College

There have been many changes in local media over the past two weeks.  Maybe I pay attention to the changes because I work in PR. Or perhaps, it is because these changes impact an industry I care deeply about and impact my friends and their careers. Anyway you look at it, the nature of the news business is in constant flux due to cost-saving measures, increased efficiencies, technology, and social media.

The merger with FOX 23 News and WTEN locally has been a topic of discussion for months. Just last week, the merger impacted staff and long-time viewers. The faces they became familiar with watching for many years will now change. Unfortunately, this same process happened years ago when Capital News 9 became YNN.

Today, YNN has greater reach and ability to share content statewide due to mergers. So despite the impact on local staff, is the end result better for viewers? Only time will tell this time around.

Over the past week, smaller publications have also announced job cuts due to economic times. The Saratogian and Record publications are in question due to pending bankruptcy sale. The Spotlight publication announced yesterday that the Schenectady and Saratoga editions will only be online.

The times are changing. People get their news on-the-go today from a variety of sources.  With smartphones, photos, videos, and the real-time publishing ability that social media provides, the sources of information seem to have changed forever, even for reporters. Many people get information around the world from social media with aggregating news coverage that can be scrolled at your fingertips on your own time schedules and don’t rely on traditional media outlets.

Yet, we need to remember that this shift doesn’t lessen the importance of the journalism profession. In the age of instant information, society seems to have placed more import on those who report it first rather than who reports it accurate. Journalists fall in the latter category.

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