Dear Mainstream Media Journos, You can still save yourself

Mainstream media is dying. Yes – there is no better way to define the current state of mainstream media (MSM) in India. While MSM globally has been going through a rough ride, Indian media companies too have started suffering the heat and lately, some of the MSM companies have been laying off massively to keep their cost low.

Mainstream Media : The Future
Mainstream Media : The Future

And while senior media execs are busy dancing with Bollywood stars, the foot soldiers, i.e. journalists are the ones who need to keep a tab on the trending times.

Why?

– Because you are next in the firing ine.

– Because most of the newspapers are moving to online-first model and journalists who are used to print editions are finding themselves in the middle of ‘oh! we are competing with new media, often called as blogs’. Your response time (to a certain news update) is under question, now.

As somebody who has NO media background, but is running a new media company (decently well, may I say?), here are a few tips I’d like to share with journos who are still working for big media firms (fyi: we interview a lot of journos and generally find it difficult to match the cultural-fit).

And these tips are super important from a point of view that most of these journalists will soon lose their jobs and end up applying at new media companies, where rules are very different.

#1 : Start Crediting.

Mainstream media is known for ‘hey! we don’t credit others’ when it comes to articles.

Case in point: We broke the Babyoye/Hoopos deal news and ToI/Economictimes took the lead from our post, adds some more and well, decides not to credit us.

Okay. That’s EconomicTimes’ ethical(?) policy.

But what about the journo? Wasn’t that the journo’s responsibility to convince the editor to credit us? Well, it’s a small world. Everybody knows other’s track history and the all of that adds up in your CV.

#2 : Get Leaner.

So you need a team of 5 to shoot a video? Get real.

And you need a story to go thru’ 5 desks? Get damn real!

How about grabbing WordPress backend access and start posting. How does that sound?

Scary? Suddenly, you are forced to learn a new tool and well, perform a whole lot of tasks on your own.

#3 : Stop looking for “quotes”.

Nobody gives a fuck. Nobody.

“Every story needs to have 4 quotes” is a thing of the past. Nobody has the time to go through irrelevant quotes. Now, start thinking in 140 characters.

Look for insights. Quotes are fit for trash cans.

#4 : Dare.

Again, Dare to think beyond..err. News.

News is getting commoditized. Twitter is fastest moving credible source than anybody else.

You need to add perspective. You need to add opinion.

You need to have an opinion. And back that opinion with data.

And for opinion, you need to THINK! You need to become a subject matter expert, atleast in one subject! That’s something you stopped when you joined the MSM.

#5 : You CANNOT Hide.

All your copypaste, your decision to not share credits with original creators isn’t going away so soon. Master Google keeps track of everything.

When you apply for your next job, all of this will count.

TL;DR (and you should know what TL;DR means), wake up. Your career will go through a massive roller coaster ride over the next few months and while your current employer has their own (un)ethical statements, you need to have yours.

Stand for something. Honesty is a good place to start. It’s never too late.