Chapter 2: Media Writing–Conventions, Culture, and Style
It’s important to be aware of the culture and work environment of media organizations and content publishers. Understanding the expectations of those who have a tremendous influence on the coverage of your organization can better inform your media strategy. The following points elaborate on the work environment and culture of media outlets.
Corporate media organizations compete with one another to break stories or report on events. Being the first to deliver a story brings a media outlet prestige and credibility. Furthermore, being the first to publish often results in a higher search engine ranking, which results in more clicks and stronger viewership.
The onset of cable television in the 1980s changed the media landscape. One of the most notable results is what we refer to as the 24-hour news cycle. Audiences in the past had to wait until specific broadcast times—usually at noon and in the early and late evening—to hear the latest about current events.
Today, many media outlets disseminate news constantly, every hour of the day. This immediacy of news coverage seeks to meet the audience’s demand to have essential information quickly. Furthermore, media outlets compete not only against each other but against the Internet. In this fast-paced environment, media professionals are expected to provide quality news stories to the masses even as they find it more difficult to gather and report facts accurately and responsibly.
The 24-hour news cycle places high demands on journalists and news media professionals to work against tight deadlines while being the first to break news. Strict deadlines are not isolated to the newsroom; public relations professionals also are expected to produce under pressure. For example, if your organization has an unanticipated product recall, audiences will expect some type of official announcement quickly. Furthermore, you often get only one chance to create the right message, one that has its intended effect.
The internal culture of the media has become more competitive over the years. Given the pressure to be the first to break a story, journalists increasingly feel the need to market themselves as trustworthy news sources. Those who work for the same media outlet may compete with one another. Journalists are expected to create a likeable personal brand. They are rated not only on viewership, but on social media likes, shares, personal appearances, and so on.
Journalists can no longer hide behind their byline; they must put their best face forward and work to increase followers. It is important for you to realize this when pitching a news story to a journalist. These topics will be covered in depth later in the book.