State of the Media 2020: Top Five Takeaways

April 21, 2020 Sarah Parker

Our 2020 State of the Media Report is our biggest one yet and we are so excited that it's finally time to share it with you! 

For our 11th report, we surveyed more than 3,200 journalists from 15 countries in North and South America, Europe, and Asia. Additionally, once COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic, we reached back out to journalists to see how it was affecting them and received 114 responses that are highlighted in a special section of the report. 

You can download the full 2020 State of the Media Report here, and get started with the top takeaways below. 

1. COVID-19 changed everything, but also highlighted everything that hasn’t changed for the media. 

Journalists still prefer to be pitched via email, and the volume of pitches they're receiving now- paired with increasingly tight budgets and reduced resources- only emphasized that. 

You should still research a journalist's work before pitching them, particularly as entire staffs have been moved over to cover the pandemic. 

2. Distrust in the media continues to decrease in the eyes of journalists, but there is still work to be done on this front. 

For the fourth year in a row, journalists said they saw distrust in the media decreasing. Trust, once lost, is difficult to rebuild, but we've seen the public turning to mainstream media as one of the first places to get news on the novel coronavirus, per the 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report on Trust and the Coronavirus

While that same report showed that trust was higher in employers than the media, turning to the media as a first choice for updates on the virus is a sign that things are moving in a positive direction. The full report discusses this more in-depth. 

3. Bias is unavoidable in humans and journalists are humans; we examine this relationship between bias and reporters (and what it means for PR pros). 

As journalists grapple with bias in their industry and in their own work, we discuss how PR and communications professionals can address this difficult topic. 

We also look at responses on bias in journalists' own words, including this one, which sums things up pretty well: 

“All media is biased because it's run by humans.”

The report also examines the relationship between bias and technology, especially when it comes to social media algorithms. 

4. Social media continues to be complicated while the heady promise of AI continues to fade. 

In 2019, 38% of journalists agreed that social media algorithms will change the way they work the most. Now, in 2020, 41% of journalists believe this to be the case.

That puts journalists in the difficult position of balancing two competing priorities: Accuracy in their reporting vs. the speed valued by social media algorithms. 

Meanwhile, only 15% see AI/machine learning as the most important technology to affect the industry, down from 19% last year. The promises of AI continue to fade. 

5. PR outreach needs to be more targeted and relevant than ever before to stand out. 

If you take nothing else away from our 2020 State of the Media Report as a PR professional, journalists hope that it's this: Sending a mass email out to a list won't get you the kind of coverage you want for your brand. 

Pitches need to be well-researched and personalized. They should be concise, but contain everything a journalist needs to craft the story, and follow-up should be limited. 

Want more pitching tips? They're in the full report. And you can join us for a live discussion of the report with a panel of journalists who will share their own expertise and insights next Tuesday, April 28th at 1pm CT. Get the details and register here

2020 has already been a difficult year— and it's only April. Let's all work better together, especially in these uncertain times.


About the Author

Sarah Parker

Sarah A. Parker is the Content Marketing Manager for Cision, planning, producing and curating content across channels. She previously managed content and social media for several different brands, in addition to working as a freelance writer. Find her on Twitter @SparkerWorks where she is happy to talk all things social media strategy, the dynamic world of PR, and mastiffs.

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