Here at Manchester’s finest digital marketing agency (not that we don’t rank as an award wining PR firm too) we’re constantly surrounded by scary stories about the state of the media. Journalists everywhere are running scared, we’re told, while struggling to work multiple desks in the wake of ongoing redundancies.
To an extent it’s true, of course. If some statistics are to be believed, staff levels at UK newspapers and magazines have dropped by some 33% over recent years, with thousands of reporters left looking for work. Add to this the fact journalism remains one of the most popular university courses at undergraduate level and the situation looks bleak both in terms of the chances of securing a job and the future of reportage.
The picture changes, mind, when you look at headlines surrounding what you might call the new breed. Today Vice– one of our favourite brands what with the irreverent eponymous taste-making magazine and accompanying website, digital music mags Thump and Noisey, and Vice News; aimed squarely at hard, frontline video reports- confirmed it had secured no less than $500million of external investment, bringing the company value up to $2billion. That’s not bad, considering the whole thing started as a punk and skateboarding free sheet in Canada just a couple of decades ago.
Elsewhere, and BuzzFeed has been exponentially expanding on its long-form newsdesk. While still continuing to churn out more lists than we could hope to list here, a model many write off as simple link bait, the social news site has plucked professionals from major titles such as The Guardian in the hope of cementing its status as a source for genuine news, rather than simply the home of shareable content. Last month a whopping $50million was ploughed into the site- as with Vice this came from Silicone Valley, bolstering its coffers and confirming to everyone that people are now taking the venture very seriously indeed.
Add to this Huffington Post’s new partnership with India’s The Times Group, a marriage that will see a new Huff Post website launched for the sub continent, and there’s no denying that while the media has some significant issues to face, it’s really a matter of where you look. For further proof, the story we ran on Essential print titles everyone in the industry needs to know, part of our travel PR month, featured a significant number of small, independent magazines that have developed loyal readerships and sterling reputations thanks to their design and unique content.
From an outside perspective looking in, there are two trends here. Firstly, and this is nothing particularly new, online is dominant when it comes to mainstream, traditional newspaper-style coverage, with multiple sections ranging from culture to sport and politics. Secondly, and perhaps more interestingly, niche titles appear to be bucking the trend in print- whether that’s beautiful publications such as Aesthetica, or specialist regional culture dispatches like The Skinny (which expanded from its Scottish base to cover both Liverpool and Manchester not so long ago, and now claims an ABC circulation rate of over 24,000 in the North West, and just under 57,000 across all distribution areas).
In short then, despite what you read, it’s really not all bad news.