During these days filled with uncertainty, there’s one sure thing we can share from our vantage point. Journalists are working harder than ever to bring you the information that the audience numbers prove you’re relying upon to stay informed to what’s going on outside your home.
In many cases, they are also doing their jobs differently.
In the past two weeks, there have been comparisons to 9/11, when news organizations flipped into a different mode and essentially covered the ramifications of just one story for a while. In the relatively early days of the internet then, theories floated around about how that coverage would change the way the media works. The lasting legacy of 9/11 coverage is the constant scrolling of headlines at the bottom of your screens as you watch the cable “news” channels and local newscasts- technology that had been used by CNBC and ESPN prior, but became widely adopted in late 2001. You also saw local stations add newscasts for 9/11 coverage and keep them, as they became profit centers.
What we’re seeing now, though, is driven by necessity and available technology, especially in TV. Anchors are hosting newscasts from their homes. Reporters and photojournalists are traveling separately to stories. Press conferences are moving to phone conferences. Phone interviews, previously a last resort, are more acceptable now. Interviews are taking place over platforms like Zoom or even FaceTime.
We’ve had clients interviewed from their kitchen tables, home offices and, in one case, via an in-house PR pro’s phone in front of a corporate backdrop. If you’re used to studio lighting and professionally-shot interviews, it looks different. But, if you’re just looking for information and insight, it all certainly suffices.
“Sending a camera” as an expectation for coverage seems an instantly antiquated thought. As news gathering has become more risky and resources have been stretched even more thin, creativity has become even more paramount. It’s up to PR people and news people to work together to assemble elements via live streams, handout photos and video, social media posts and whatever it takes to get information and visuals to audiences.
It’s hard to make any predictions about what next week will like, let alone life or business after this crisis. But should the future of news be as cost and personal distance conscious as today, it seems like it might, the use of imperfect video technology may end up as a legacy of this unparalleled story.