When companies suffer, one of the first things to get cut is the advertizing budget. The painful process has started early this year and is intensifying: advertizing sales in major media outlets are down-waaaaay down. Employees cringe as owners look around for positions to cut, or any kind of savings at all. Forget about the training budget, or the new equipment.
Some newspapers, TV and radio outlets might not make it through the recession. One industry report says some major American cities might find themselves without daily newsprint (thanks to David Akin for the link). Canwest got rid of a whole bunch of positions (including reporters) and more is to come on that front. CBC executives are standing around a huge whole in their budget, scratching their heads. I would not be surprised if more organizations pulled out of Canadian Press, thus bringing down this venerable and very professional news service.
But why so serious? As our Prime Minister reminded us during the election campaign, there are opportunities to be grasped from human misery, for those smart enough to grasp them.
So the ground is shifting: contacts will disappear, reporters will move, news editors will change the way they work (more of them doubling as assignment editors I expect). Keep your ear to the group, update those contact lists and stay ahead of the curve.
Better yet – less reporters mean news organizations will need prepackaged news (provided by flacks) more than before. Sure, the newspapers will shrink – less ads mean less pages. But it’s likely that there will be as much TV and radio news as before (until the stations shut down of course).
Hopefully, the PR world will respond by producing quality information. We have no interest in objectivity, but quality we can do. But since our budgets will often get cut too, 2009 might simply herald the return of the Gainesburger: the dry, crumbly news release the dogs will eat because they’re hungry and they know that’s all they’ll get.