There’s no doubt the Australian media landscape is changing.
The headlines say it all:
- Fairfax Media to cut 120 editorial jobs in Melbourne and Sydney
- News Corp to axe 55 editorial jobs at papers including The Australian, The Daily Telegraph and the Herald Sun
- News Corp sells Eureka Report
- ABC records 241 redundancies in response to $254m budget cut
It seems like no media company has been spared from staff redundancies as the industry grapples with shrinking revenue and budget cuts. As a participant in the Australian media sector, Profile Booster takes a special interest in recent developments in the major publication houses.
If we look at some of the reasons behind the changes in the media environment, we could see that the way people use and consume news and information nowadays is the key factor.
You don’t have to look far. Have you noticed how many people are reading printed newspaper on your daily commute to the office?
In contrast, how many people do you see reading the news from their iPad, iPhone and other mobile devices? And when you get to the office, do you go looking for a printed newspaper or do you just read the news from your desktop?
According to the latest Roy Morgan Newspaper Readership Survey, though print news media continues to reach more readers than digital platforms, print media is showing a year-on-year decline of 2% across national, metropolitan, regional, rural and local community readers.
On the other hand, digital news media readership is up 9% year on year, from 9.9 million to 10.8 million, according to figures from Enhanced Media Metrics Australia (EMMA).
The number of readers accessing content on tablets is up 16% year-on-year, from 2.5 million to 2.9 million, while the number of readers using mobile phones has increased 28%, from 2.3 million to 2.99 million, according to EMMA figures.
In a statement accompanying the latest survey results, Roy Morgan Research said, “Digital has been the predominant channel Australians use to access the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age for a number of years, and it makes sense for Fairfax to focus on the opportunities in this space,”
“These opportunities appear to include further cost- and staff-cutting in editorial—but the more audiences consider digital their primary (or only) access point, the higher their expectations may become of the quality of web and app content.”
News Corp, publisher of The Australian, Daily Telegraph and Herald Sun, is also beefing up its digital offering with investment in digital content including regular video news and interviews. Both Fairfax Media and News Corp have invested in online real estate sites as source of ongoing advertising income.
As traditional media companies adjust to changing media landscape, we are seeing a flurry of ownership changes in the Australian media industry. Some of the recent investment and divestment in this sector include:
- News Corp sells Eureka Report – only four years after the Rupert Murdoch owned media giant bought it for an estimated $30 million
- Yellow Brick Road buys BrightDay – as part of News Corp’s offloading of non-core publications
- Fairfax sells InvestSmart – as it focuses on real estate advertising through Domain.com.au
Implications of media changes to content creators
While the news of staff redundancies and cost cutting could be sad, it seems part of the emerging reality in the digitally-driven information age. The Fairfax job cuts were not the first and won’t be the last as media firms continue to re-allocate resources to digital platforms.
While we could be facing an environment with less printed newspapers, digital platforms could present new opportunities for companies and businesses that rely on the media to disseminate information.
For content creators this changing and evolving media landscape could pose challenges and opportunities. Here are the four serious impacts that we see for content creators:
- Limited media outlets – with less media titles due to mergers and digital transformation (e.g. Smart Investor Magazine now only an insert on the Australian Financial Review) content creators may find it more difficult to place content compared to a few years ago when there were more specialist publications. The opportunity here though is a more focused approach where content producers can tailor materials for specific publications.
- Limited journalist contacts – as media companies try to maintain a lean operation, there may be more redundancies which could mean less journalists covering a wide range of topics and beats. While this could mean some beats may not get covered any more due to the lack of editorial staff, it may also create an opportunity to pitch newsworthy topics. As long as the stories are relevant and newsworthy, journalists will still be interested in writing about them.
- Other news platforms – with many journalists getting more active in social media, there are new avenues and platforms to reach out to them other than traditional email or phone contact. For example, Twitter provides instant and timely news distribution that could be picked up by journalists on tight deadlines.
- Need for speedy content – as journalists face heavier workload and constant pressure from tight deadlines, they still need to deliver quality stories and articles for demanding readers. This means deadline could be tighter than ever and the need to deliver timely content will be at a premium.
We could see more changes in the Australian media landscape as our reading and information consumption habits continue to evolve. And for content creators this could be both an exciting and challenging period as we take advantage of opportunities in this digital age.
What challenges and opportunities do you see as content creator?