Journalism: owned or rented?

Behind the scenes in newspapers and magazines, there has been a revolution occurring. We aren’t talking just about the layoffs of masses of journalists – reporters, videographers, print editors, researchers and so on. We are talking about how the jobs taken fronewsroomm these staff people are being farmed out to freelancers and outside companies contracted to produce news and information.

Apart from the mental anguish caused to so many journalists, there isn’t too much inherently wrong with ‘farming out’ reporting and other tasks to people not directly employed by newspapers, magazines, radio and TV broadcast outlets. In fact, some of the freelancers are former staff reporters and the companies that produce content are often run by and staffed by former employees of legacy media outlets.

According to several of the Team Leaders from the Goldhawk Group Canada, the transition from a newspaper or other journalism staffer to outside content provider can be both a wrenching and a positive experience. One says, “It was a challenge to go from being a reporter for a newspaper to being a producer for television but nothing like leaving full time employment altogether to become an independent communicator working in both journalism and public relations. That was a wrench that took several years to which to become accustomed.”

Today, that Team Leader has a background in journalism, public relations, media training, advertising copy writing and turning out content of various kinds  for dozens of websites.  “There is a great deal of opportunity out there for former journalists,” he says. “Being laid off because of the changes in journalism doesn’t have to mean getting out of the business altogether,” he adds. “But it doesn’t mean taking life easier either.”

While individual journalists may have to be creative and ambidextrous to stay in the business, their one-time bases also are scrambling to live with new roles. Newspapers and magazines are finding ways to go digital. Television is wrestling daily with the Internet and web feeds that now are watched by more Canadians than watch the ‘boob tube.’  Radio, years ago, shifted to the Net and could be staging a comeback even as it cuts back on covering news and information itself.

More and more, major publishers are going away from producing news and information and buying it instead. More and more journalists are going on their own and selling their wares instead of working for the Man. Goldhawk Group Canada is one of those providers of content that saw the future. It’s one with the experience and expertise to provide solid wares to publishing outlets of all kinds. It’s great to have a front-row seat to one of the best shows in town, the changing of the art of journalism.

-GR