Head of ArmenPress News Agency Aram Ananian said that the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) will affect news content and services, business models and even the management of the human resources of the media, and now is a good opportunity to think deeply about this and the new order in post-coronavirus era.
He pointed out that if it hadn’t been due to the news media, the Internet, and telecommunications equipment, the scope of human communication would have probably been limited to where he/she lives, and said that until a few months ago, no one would have imagined that social distancing would suddenly disrupt human relationships.
The ArmenPress chief said that the spread of the coronavirus is not only a test for countries’ economies and health systems, but also an “under pressure test” for the media.
“We live at a time of modern uncertainties, and the questions of this equation are becoming exponential, and now we must reconsider even the most prominent futuristic analyses,” Ananian added.
He noted that coronavirus has challenged the old belief that even in the future, challenges can be planned.
The ArmenPress chief went on to say that medical knowledge will surely one day find a good tool to overcome COVID-19, but the discovery of the coronavirus vaccine may be too late.
However, the evidence for the media is in a way that can be speculated about the post-corona era.
In the future, the day-to-day operation of the media will be affected by the consequences of COVID-19, and the scope of this impact will include not only the content of the media but also the distribution of news, business models and even human resource management.
Some media outlets will face the biggest challenge, while others, such as radio and television, will be better off.
“Today, no one has a solution to resolve this problem, but the present article is actually an invitation to start a public discussion about the future,” he further added.
Is no new, good news?
Today, the news media is saturated with information about the coronavirus, and the reading of this bulk of the news is so great that it may weaken the sensitivity and tolerance of the audience.
That is why the Secretary-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom has called on the people of the world to read twice a day in maximum, and in other words, to be unaware is good news.
A good news for the media is that journalists have both done well in global crises such as World War I and World War II, and have continued their professional careers in quiet times with least news.
During coronavirus pandemic, the media has been the most prepared working groups in many countries for telecommuting and adapting to the new conditions, and many of our colleagues have achieved the desired performance in these difficult situations with simple solutions.
If in the past telecommuting was denominated by freelance journalists, now it has become a natural norm for journalists to work in the context of the pandemic.
The way of working remotely, not only in the case of online media but also in the case of more traditional media, such as newspapers, radio, and television, is changing on the one hand due to social constraints and on the other hand due to technological advances.
Today, there is no such thing as a news monopoly, and with the help of smartphones, it is possible to produce multimedia and high-quality content that is comparable to professional products from a few years ago.
Critical situations are breaking a taboo, and traditional media are no longer bound to use methods (such as video conferencing) to produce news only in exceptional cases.
Coronavirus pandemic played a catalytic role in accelerating the previously anticipated trends, but won’t economic uncertainty have a detrimental effect on these trends?
The economic challenge and human capital
Predictions about declining economic activity could deal a severe blow to the media’s revenue streams, and may not be so serious in the short-term, but will worsen with the worsening economic conditions and rising public media concerns.
It is unknown at this time what will happen to traditional resources of the media and what will change in the commercial advertising market and possibly the biggest damage belongs to the “medium-sized media” because big media players have more diverse resources, but the financial resources of small actors, such as bloggers, video bloggers and podcasters, are still very limited.
Thus, some media outlets have to look for new economic resources as financial opportunities diminish.
At the same time, the continuation of telecommuting can call into question the need to keep corporate offices and pay for them.
Are big newsrooms being dismantled and cost of the offices get more limited? And as Italian doctors are forced to prioritize the use of breathing aids for patients at the height of coronavirus pandemic, will the media be forced to make difficult choices in the area of human resource management?
In any case, the availability of content production tools for all will lead to the need for multimedia journalists to produce a variety of products.
If this prediction comes true, the role of artificial intelligence and mobile technologies will become more prominent not only in distribution but also in content production.
The challenges of print media
Predictions of the end of the age of print media have long been heard, the number of newspapers and magazines around the world has declined, and news of newspaper closures or their conversion into “online-only” editions is heard everyday.
Print media executives, of course, continue to resist and use tools such as online sharing or online sales, although these methods have not been able to change the predictions.
Although newspaper writing is still the most popular form of journalism, coronavirus pandemic has hit it the hardest, as newspaper production depends on other businesses such as the printing industry, the distribution sector, and so on.
Decisions about quarantine or social distancing are likely to further reduce the sale of print media, and the fact that paper can be a carrier of the coronavirus will also exacerbate the difficult situation for newspapers.
The change in the way people receive news is unpredictable, but the print media will suffer the most from the coronavirus crisis.
New order and educational, health and entertainment services
Every challenge is a source of new opportunities. In the new post-colonial world, increasing economic capacity will be the biggest challenge, and this situation is likely to lead the media to meet the new needs of the audience.
Demand for new media services will also increase, with the growth of the middle class expected to reach 4.9 billion worldwide by 2030, according to a forecast released by the World Economic Forum years ago.
The demand includes educational, health, welfare, and on-demand services, and Corona’s pandemic and social distancing in many countries automatically justifies that prediction.
Our understanding is that media outlets will be strengthened in these areas, and this will change the nature and content of the media to some extent.
Fame; intangible media capital
For any media outlet, fame is value, capital, and even commercial wealth, no matter how introverted voices may sound, but the process of globalization will not diminish, neither in terms of economic relations nor in terms of human relations and information flow and technological progress will encourage the trend.
In the future, as today, the fame of the news source will be effective in overcoming crises, and all those involved in the affairs of society have a duty to increase this intangible capital.
The media should pay special attention to this intangible capital, especially given the emerging phenomena such as the spread of false news, the development of social networks, the ethics of journalism in the digital age, and so on.
There will be many changes in the post-coronavirus era, but the media, the Internet and communications will remain as important as they are today.
If there were no media, we would be in the Middle Ages today. Isn’t that so?