media and journalism

The New Newsroom? The Collapse of Traditional Journalism

Rebecca Courtney, Corporate Communications Director

The past year has been significantly concerning for the media industry. As reported by Fast Company, more than 21,400 media jobs were lost in 2023. Just three months into 2024, the Los Angeles Times has laid off more than 20 percent of its newsroom, The Wall Street Journal has cut 20 staff members in its Washington, D.C., office (during an election year, at that), and TIME Magazine has laid off 15 percent of its staff. Even the relatively “new” media outlet BuzzFeed, which was once scoffed at as a valid news source due to its prolific spelling errors and use of memes, shut down its BuzzFeed News division in April 2023. 

While these recent numbers are staggering, the collapse of traditional journalism is certainly not a new issue. In fact, newsroom employment in the United States alone dropped 26 percent between 2008 and 2021 according to Pew Research Center. 

While we tend to blame the collapse of traditional journalism on the rise of social media, it is important to note that democratizing the dissemination of information isn’t an inherently bad thing. It has given a voice to many who may have not otherwise had the opportunity to have a platform.  

However, there are a few key concepts we face in this new world: 

We have access to information the second it happens, from multiple perspectives and channels. News breaks at a moment's notice and stories evolve in real-time, demanding real-time responses. While this speed can have its benefits, the demand jeopardizes thorough, well-researched investigative journalism. 

Anyone with a cell phone, a camera or a microphone can claim to be an “expert” or a source of truth. The prevalence of user-generated content has blurred the lines between traditional journalism and citizen reporting, and along with it, our ability to determine what’s factual or credible. 

The oversaturation of content has resulted in increased competition for audience attention, meaning sensationalism and clickbait tactics have become prevalent as both traditional and nontraditional media outlets vie for clicks and engagement. 

We are in the midst of a perfect storm, with the spread of misinformation at its very troubling center. 

As marketers, we have a critical need for credible media sources and journalists. Luckily, we play a vital role in how this industry continues to be shaped. 

Here are a few ways to start:

  • Engage in Responsible Advertising Practices: We’ll begin with the most obvious first. Marketers need to be mindful of the impact our advertising practices may have on media integrity and consumer trust. This includes avoiding ad placements on websites or platforms known for spreading misinformation or promoting divisive content.
  • Focus on Quality Over Quantity: In a saturated media landscape, quality content stands out. We need to ensure we are producing high-quality, engaging content that resonates with our audience, rather than churning out content for the sake of it.
  • Engage with Purpose: Meaningful engagement is more valuable than fleeting interactions. Let’s focus on creating genuine connections with our audiences, fostering conversations and adding true value to the discourse rather than additional “noise.”
  • Embrace Transparency: Transparency builds trust. We need to ensure that when communicating for the brands we represent, we’re doing so with openness and honesty. This includes addressing any controversies or mistakes head-on.
  • Monitor and Adapt: The media landscape is only going to continue to change. We must stay vigilant, monitoring trends and adapting strategies accordingly. Flexibility and agility are essential. 

Let’s work together to turn these challenges into opportunities and fight for a healthier and trustworthy media ecosystem. 

Want to learn more about how your organization can develop a media relations plan built out of trust?