I was very sad to learn a few days ago of the end of the line for the Oldham Chronicle newspaper. After 160 years the daily newspaper closed with around 50 people losing their jobs. The loss of the jobs is awful but also is the fact that print journalism will no longer cover the town. After starting my working life on local newspapers I have a love for them and the coverage that is from investigative reporting through to attending local events.
There are a number of newspapers I have worked on years ago that also don’t exist anymore. It isn’t unusual and can be seen happening up and down the country and over the past few years. Many will blame the rise of social media but it is more about people changing the way they consume news and information.
It made me reflect on my current work as I have been in my post for the past almost 10 years and have been at the same organisation for 16 years. The blink of an eye in Oldham Chronicle terms. When I first started we didn’t have social media and the Internet was a novelty. The work was almost totally focused on providing information to the various media outlets.
Even 10 years ago we had only just dipped a toe in the water to establish social media accounts on Facebook and Twitter. When a major incident happened we looked to the media to broadcast key information and in some cases agencies would resort to using loudhailers.
There have been huge changes in the world of communication that we have had to adapt to. We have seen tremendous change with new channels of communication and the emergence of new phenomenon like the citizen journalist. At the heart of it though the job is still essentially the same. It is about effective communication and engagement. It doesn’t matter whether this is face-to-face or through new digital channels the purpose remains the same.
The news media that survive are those that understand what their essence is and can keep a focus on it in a changing landscape. They are providing news, information and entertainment. For years this has been through the printed newspaper or TV and radio bulletins but now they have to think differently. They need to look at the digital developments, online trends and how people are behaving and be able to adapt.
As communicators we live in exciting times but we absolutely must be able to adapt if we are to survive or even thrive.