We are in a new age of news. Newspaper sales are slowly declining with digital and social media channels increasingly becoming go-to news sources. But how are traditional print outlets responding to this?
We caught up with Ross Crae, Digital Content Producer at The Sunday Post to find out what his role involves and how social media has impacted the way the publication approaches news.
What do you read and where do you get your news?
“I read a bit of everything really! Mostly it’ll be online, whatever pops up in news feeds or Twitter timelines, or a browse of the headlines on the major news sites in the morning. An aggregator like NewsNow is good for getting all the coverage on topics, especially sport, in one place, so I look at those from time to time. I listen to a few sports podcasts too.
“I read my local newspaper, the Barrhead News, every week and like to leaf through the Sunday papers – especially The Sunday Post of course!”
Did you always know you wanted to be a journalist?
“When I was young, I’d always had an inkling about some sort of media career in the future. I made magazines in my spare time, while also being a keen photographer. I then got involved in community radio while I was at school (and still present a weekly show on Pulse 98.4).
“When I was applying for universities, though, I still wasn’t sure which career path I wanted to take and was close to studying Geography or Film & TV. My fifth-choice course, Multimedia Journalism at Glasgow Caledonian, was the only one that required a test and interview, so when they accepted me I felt I’d earned the place a lot more!
“I had a great time at GCU and it definitely put me on the path towards journalism and helped hone the skills required for working in the world of digital content. Video, audio, print – it was all covered. If I’m being honest, I’m not sure which is my favourite medium! The benefit of working for online is that I can do a bit of everything.”
What are your career highlights?
“In the past year I’ve been lucky enough to cover a number of music and performance events, including TRNSMT, the Scottish Album of the Year Awards and shows at The SSE Hydro. The V&A Dundee opening was also great to attend, as well as covering the Edinburgh Fringe with reviews and interviews.
“As I’m very much at the beginning of my career, it’s always exciting seeing someone you’ve talked to on a big stage or getting to show a media pass and access the areas the general public can’t!”
What’s the best advice you have ever been given?
“If you have a good idea for something, be confident in it and try to make it an even better idea. Also, always double (maybe even triple) check the facts before you publish.”
What are the advantages of a good journalist / PR relationship?
“With a good relationship, the journalist and PR can work together to organise and arrange content that is of good quality and benefits both parties so that relationship is essential.”
What’s the worst habit of a PR?
“Pitching something that doesn’t fit at all with the publication, or something that is far too promotional. Research a bit more into the publication and find out what kind of things they publish, don’t just send out to everyone if it’s very specific to certain industries.”
What challenges do journalists face today?
“The rise of online media means people are less willing to pay for what they can get for free on news sites, Twitter, Facebook etc instantaneously. Newspapers have to report what everyone’s read online the previous day while also taking the story on and making it feel new and worthwhile to pay for and read.
“On the online side of things, there’s often a tendency to strive for clicks and page views. Clickbait, while attention grabbing, sometimes interesting and usually effective for racking up numbers, can also detract from the perceived value of a newspaper’s brand and is often low-effort, poor quality content. The challenge is to create good quality, engaging and unique content that is worth spending time on and makes the reader come back for more.”
How do you prefer PRs get in touch with you?
“I prefer email as you can get a better idea of the story straight away if the pitch and the release are sent to you at the same time. It also allows the journalist to get back in their own time if interested in the story.”
What stories/ angles are you looking for?
“We receive a lot of stories that bombard us with stats and survey results that are difficult to make engaging and relevant. Stories that have a human-interest angle or cover issues that affect people on a day-to-day basis are usually the most interesting for us.
“Video content is always a bonus too, or at least good images.”
How important is social media to journalism?
“It’s crucial. Social media acts as both a source of content and a means to spread it. It’s the first place most people turn to when they want to know what’s going on.
“It’s also a place where stories are shared amongst friends, family and colleagues. ‘Did you see that thing on Twitter?’ must be one of the most common questions asked between friends these days!”
As social channels are increasingly used as a go-to news source, how do journalists utilise these platforms?
“Many journalists have used Twitter as an extension of their ‘brand’ and have become experts in certain fields that people will look to and trust information from when that area is in the spotlight.
“Sharing articles online gets them to the reader almost instantly and promoting upcoming work in print will hopefully attract people to want to read it. Most journalists also use social media to look for case studies, reactions to events and as a basic way to gauge what people are thinking on a topic.”
How does writing for online differ to writing for print?
“Writing for online means you have to consider how to integrate multimedia content such as videos, tweets and infographics. You’ll also have to think about how the story will be pitched on social media and what headline to use to make people more inclined to read.
“Online offers a more flexible platform – there’s a scope to expand pieces and create longer form content that wouldn’t fit in the print edition, but articles can also be brief as there’s not a required space to fill as such.”