More than a year ago I suggested that unemployed journalists will take many of the jobs that would have gone to communicators without newsroom experience.
That was an understatement.
In less than ten years, the nation’s news business has lost more than 14,000 jobs, some 25 percent of the entire industry. Things have yet to hit bottom, especially for newspapers and magazines.
The result, as the Atlantic’s Jeffery Goldberg calls it, is the The Great Journalism Exodus. Every PR agency, communications department and public affairs office in the country is hearing from reporters who are either unemployed or desperate to get out.
Goldberg wonders if all these hacks make good flacks, but the volume of job candidates makes this a non-issue. Many reporters don’t transition from the newsroom because they can't let go of their often sanctimonious cynicism about the business world. But just as many are damn good at it. They write better, learn faster and have better connections. That’s why they’re getting so many of the good jobs.
What's important is how this hacks-to-flacks migration represents a tectonic shift in the relationship between sponsored message and third-party credibility. For every public affairs officer and publicist with newsroom experience, there are many times that number of news beats and media outlets that simply no longer exist.
The changing landscape means the best communications people will be those with skills far deeper than writing press releases and pitching stories. They’ll need to know research, integrated marketing, community engagement, public affairs, issues management and yes, blogging and social media.
It’s worth keeping in mind whether you’re hiring a flack or a hack. Or one in the same.
. . . . . . . . .