Poor prospects place journalism at base of career choices…

Despite the subject, this is not a criticism of journalists – just a reality check. The implications are just as serious for PR practitioners as they are for our more editorially empowered ‘friends in ink’.

Journalism or garbage collector... decisions decisions...

In a recent analysis (pls see The Top 200 Jobs of 2012: 181 – 200 | CareerCast.com http://bit.ly/JxFTkt) a newspaper reporter position is ranked…196th… even below that of a paparazzi at 166. In fact, just about any career choice would appear to be better than journalism if the survey is to be believed.

At the bottom of {our} rankings, these professions all have a varied mixture of physical labor, declining job opportunities, lower incomes, poor working conditions and high stress. While not all of them have the physical demands of a firefighter, cushy would not be a word to describe any of these positions. For most of the jobs in this group, the salaries are very low with an even worse hiring outlook. Opportunity to grow in these job is minimal.”

And before I go too much further into journo-bashing, joining as a PR Executive is only number 70, a less than desirable position.

It might be that the survey is faulty and its methodology is skewed somewhat, but perhaps there are other reasons.

1. Digital has killed the ‘print-ed star’ , literally. The number of newspapers in production is in decline and has been for some time. An article published on the Huffington Post quotes Veteran media executive Alan Mutter as offering the following performance indicators for 2011.

    • Newspaper revenue fell to its lowest level since 1984, although adjusted for inflation the income is actually worth half of what papers earned back then
    • Combined ad sales for all the newspapers in America in 2011 equaled barely two-thirds of the sales by Google alone.
    • These declines only accelerated in the fourth quarter of 2011, indicating that not only is there no end in sight, but the worst is yet to come
    • Digital revenue, once the industry’s hope for economic revival, grew only 6.8 percent during 2011, which is not remotely fast enough to make up for advertising losses.

So newspapers are in their death throws… so where will journalists, even those who are already qualified look for their next hob

2. PRs no-longer want writers… Text is dead. No-one reads anymore. There is too much video out there, too many nice pictures and graphics.

Pinterest, Twitwalls (although Twitwall is pretty much a non-event to me, check mine here, but I hate it) Instagrams, YouTube, Flickr… etc etc etc.

Consumers don’t want to be communicated in writing any more (warning – crass generalism, supported by zero empirical data). Therefore, what value to editors, writers, authors actually bring.

Check out this chart from Cisco’s Visual Networking Index showing the massive explosion in video consumption forecast in coming years. And if you still have any doubt ask any telecom professional – they will tell you the same thing. Video is king.

Honestly, if you are a journo planning to move to PR, do so quickly before the agency management teams do their 5 year forecasts…

At 196th place, the only place is up...

Ultimate conclusion, by time you finish a journalism course, there will be no newspapers, and no friendly PR agencies willing to take you on board as a skilled writer.

But there has to be some positive right?

Actually no, it gets worse – for PRs anyway.

Now, we face another struggle – if text is no-longer king and video and images are becoming increasingly more important for PR purposes… then surely advertising agencies will be strong competitors and PR may be further relegated to a back-office function.

I was at PR World Congress in March, and the spirit was very down, especially with regards to digital and social media. The speakers were widely critical about how the industry has failed to take hold of social media and own it. The advertising and marketing chieftains have staked an arguably stronger hold – despite a rather weak claim.

Truth, if advertising/marketing own social media, which in many cases they do now; and if video and graphic design are going to replace press conferences and press releases as preferred tools, commercial PR, the bread and butter for many thousands of professionals around the world faces serious decline.

Check this out from the Institute for Public Relations (Definitive Study on the State of the PR Industry Released by USC Annenberg Definitive Study on the State of the PR Industry Released by USC Annenberg | Institute for Public Relations http://bit.ly/JxJcrX)

Marketing/product PR is in a state of decline: While still a “Core” function with 51% of corporate respondents having budgetary responsibility for it (versus 61% in 2009), there has been a substantial decrease in the emphasis on traditional Marketing/Product PR. This could be attributable to an increasing reliance on social media to promote products.

I am taking this very seriously, and have already invested nearly $2,000 in a decent Sony camcorder with external wireless microphone and other gear. (Yes having a grasp of strategy is always going to be important, but you have to keep your skills relevant at the same time.)

Video and graphic design is the new pen and ink – the SAE Institute here I come!

Finally – to leave on a positive note for my media friends, cheer up at least your not a lumberjack…


About stephenking2012

In 2012 I volunteered to hold the position of Chair - Standards & Ethics Committee for the Middle East PR Association (@MEPRA_org). I have set up this account to assist in this effort. You may also like to follow my Blog or connect with me on LinkedIn. In any case, please do visit www.mepra.org, and if you are not yet a member, please do sign up!
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One Response to Poor prospects place journalism at base of career choices…

  1. Pingback: The Who’s Who of YouTube PR – which is your favourite channel? | A Journey Through PR Standards & Ethics

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