Journalism is changing dramatically and rapidly in today’s world. Newspapers are giving up the fight and closing the doors of their bricks and mortar locations. Paper magazines, although huge in numbers today, eventually will follow their cousins into the dust. Television news, too, is bound to decline along with TV advertising as the Internet supplants the boob tube with a pervasive Idiot’s Guide to Life of its own. News itself has changed a great deal since the last century. Leading news channels like CNN put most of their resources into covering the story of the week instead of being a catchall of events of the day or the hour. This means that many news managers now see their product as sheer entertainment rather than a quest to inform and educate the public.
What has become magnified in this new era of communication is the crisis. Where a negative situation can be turned into an apparent disaster worthy of Titanic style coverage, count on the news media to rush in. Where ruin is on the horizon for some poor soul or major company, look for scurrying newshounds baying and pulling on their leashes to pull the victim into national or even world view. CNN goes to heaven when it smells the blood of a crisis and the rest of the mass media, generally, follow.
In the past, so-called ‘news’ was covered, sifted and published by people trained, in schools or by experience alone, to be journalists. This meant that most hunters and gatherers of news could recognize a story that needed telling and could tell it in the most efficient and understandable way possible for their readers, listeners and viewers. There were written and unwritten rules that were generally agreed upon and followed. Major media outlets would provide paths along which their journalists could develop to finally become proficient and often recognizable story-tellers. Readers, viewers and listeners could trust these journalists to attempt to tell the tale as factually and accurately as possible. The results were never totally trustworthy as no story ever is but the results were fairly close to what kinda happened.
Today, news is more and more covered by self-appointed bloggers who can work with computers. There are still and will be trained and experienced journalists out there but they are often overwhelmed by Internet-savvy broadcasters of rumor, innuendo, gossip, opinion and sometimes recorded stuff. With this new news environment, there is more need than ever for the executive caught in a crisis to tell his or her story forcefully and clearly to cut through the high levels of static in the communications ether.