The media ecosystem in 2020 has continued positioning journalism as a line of work wrought with challenges. According to findings in the latest “State of the News Media” report issued by PR software giant Cision, journalists today find themselves increasingly strapped for resources while facing increased expectations to do more.

Cision’s annual report, which surveys members of the press around the world to uncover the trends, challenges and perceptions facing the media world, found that a majority of journalists surveyed (22 percent) consider staffing and resources to be the biggest challenges the industry has faced in the last 12 months.

This was followed by social networks and influencers bypassing traditional media (18 percent), the ongoing conversation surrounding “fake news” (16 percent), attacks on freedom of the press (13 percent), the blurring lines between editorial and advertising (13 percent), adapting to advances in technology (eight percent) and threats to journalists’ safety or security (one percent).

While the press finds their resources are at an all-time low, their workload has gone up at the same time: more than a third of journalists (36 percent) said they now plan their stories more frequently ahead of time than ever before. Almost half (42 percent) now plan their stories anywhere from a week to a month in advance. By comparison, last year the same number (42 percent) said they work on stories no more than a day ahead.

Cision's Global State of the Media Report - Journalists were asked: which brand source do you consider the most useful?Journalists were asked: which brand source do you consider the most useful?
 

These challenges present a unique opportunity for PR professionals to improve the relationships they have with journalists. More than a third (36 percent) of journalists said they consider press releases to be a brand’s most useful source, and nearly three-quarter (72 percent) counted press releases and news announcements among the sort of content they want to receive.

When asked to list the number-one thing PR pros could do to help journalists, more than a third of respondents (37 percent) said: “understand my target audience and what they find relevant.” Similarly, nearly half (45 percent) said press releases are more effective when they contain information relevant to that journalist’s target audience. Journalists also overwhelmingly said that Monday is the best day of the week to receive pitches (followed by Tuesday).

On a positive note, the journalists surveyed noted that they believe distrust in the media is decreasing overall. While more than half of journalists (59 percent) still believe the public has lost trust in the media over the last year, that figure actually reveals a continuing decrease from previous iterations of the annual Cision report (63 percent in 2019, 71 percent in 2018 and 91 percent in 2017).

Journalists also believe fake news and attacks on freedom of the press have been less of a challenge this year compared to years prior.

Cision’s “2020 Global State of the Media Report” surveyed more than 3,200 journalists from 15 countries working for print, broadcast and online-only outlets. The survey was conducted between January and February 20.