Right now, it’s impossible to predict the full impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak and how it will relate to each sector and industry – and what that will mean, specifically, for your own company’s bottom line. But one sector that is likely to be hit hard is journalism, and in particular, local news organizations that rely on ad revenue from local companies, many of whom have now been forced to close due to the pandemic.
As BuzzFeed News reported this week, the impact of the coronavirus on the news media “could be worse than the 2008 financial crisis, which saw newspapers experience a 19% decline in revenue”.
This also, ironically, comes at a time where most news publications are seeing more traffic and higher readership. Indeed, according to ComScore, the number of minutes spent by readers on news sites has increased by 46% in the same period last year.
People need accurate, timely information about the outbreak – but at the same time, the ad revenues which fund such are drying up. Meanwhile, reporters, like healthcare workers, are often putting their own welfare on the line in order to do their crucial work, and keep that information coming.
Given these concerns, Twitter has this week sought to lend a hand to the news sector, with a new $1 million funding pledge to two key organizations.
As explained by Twitter:
“We’re donating one million dollars evenly distributed between the Committee to Protect Journalists and the International Women’s Media Foundation. These funds will be used to ensure these organizations can continue their work in the face of new economic strains and to directly support journalists. Their shared efforts to advocate for the rights of vulnerable reporters and to guarantee an equal share of voice for women in the industry have never been more relevant or important.”
This is an important area of consideration, ensuring compassionate, balanced reporting, from various perspectives, which will help to keep the public informed, and will ultimately save lives amid the outbreak. While the news media has often been mocked and criticized in recent times, we’re now witnessing why accurate, quality journalism is important, and the value it has in our day to day lives. It’s good to see Twitter acknowledge this, and pledge to share funding with the organizations which help to fuel much of the engagement and discussion within its app.
It’s the latest social platform funding pledge around COVID-19. Facebook has donated more than $100 million to various initiatives connected to relief and research efforts, while Google has also pledged several million dollars across a range of programs. LinkedIn has also joined a pledge of $22 million to support local organizations, while TikTok this week announced that it’s donating $10 million to the WHO.
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It’s good to see the platforms seeking to re-allocate some of the wealth they’ve accumulated from their users, and it will no doubt go a long way towards reducing the financial impacts in many sectors.
But the impacts will still be significant. Hopefully, we can all find a way through this, but the longer the situation goes on, the harder hit each sector will be. Any support that can be provided will contribute to the broader good of keeping society, as we know it, intact.