A recent survey by PR and media consultancy Hattlan Media looked at the impact of COVID-19 on media organizations. Journalists in print media made up 48.3 percent of the total survey participants, while participants working in the broadcast and digital media constituted 33.3 percent and 18.4 percent, respectively. Respondents’ job positions varied between reporters and editors (39.8 percent), managers (21.6 percent), freelancers (26.1 percent), and presenters and producers (12.5 percent). The survey found that 74.2 percent of all respondents had worked remotely during quarantine, while 25.8 percent worked out of their offices. The survey underlined the pandemic’s major role in accelerating the digital transformation of print media institutions, which was presumably planned for a full transformation to take place over the coming years. It also highlighted the importance of upgrading digital media content within the plan to make the print editions obsolete. Respondents indicated that the main challenges they face under these exceptional global circumstances are: Difficulty to get interviews, delay in submitting material and difficulty in accessing information.
Below are the highlights from the survey: General performance — 52.8 percent of respondents affirmed that the current situation has not significantly affected them or the team’s work mechanism, while 47.2 percent felt otherwise. Digitization — 84.2 percent of managers in the media sector and 82.6 percent of freelancers who participated in the survey believe that now is the right time to adopt and expedite digitization, especially in light of the isolation caused by the pandemic. Yet 18 percent of total respondents believe that it is still early to take this step. Challenges — 78.6 percent of print media workers identified “financial stability” as the most pressing challenge facing the sector, especially after various media institutions resorted to budget cuts. Furthermore, 92.3 percent of workers in the broadcast media emphasized that “quarantine” was the biggest challenge for media institutions. Moreover, 46 percent of respondents confirmed that many media organizations were affected by the budget cuts, while 33.7 percent were not sure that these institutions were affected by such measures. On the other hand, 60 percent of print media workers and 44 percent of digital media workers who participated in the survey believed that their institutions were subject to budget cuts, where the most affected were editors, reporters and freelancers.
Content — 72.7 percent of respondents affirmed that there is a major shift toward providing COVID-19-centered content, especially in the broadcast media sector, with 63.2 percent of managers taking part in the survey supporting the same view. The future — 40 percent of respondents believe that the future direction of the media industry requires a move toward the adoption of remote working and various other technologies. Those respondents argued for the need to deliver strong content across social media platforms, while others suggested a balanced approach between print and digital media. Commenting on the survey, Dr. Sulaiman Al-Hattlan, CEO of Hattlan Media, said: “Media is one of the most important and strategic sectors across the world, especially that it plays a major role during crises and disasters. It is only through analyzing media and the various challenges it faces that we can lay the foundation for designing a crisis-focused media plan. The industry can also play a vital role in raising awareness of the need to adhere to the instructions issued by the concerned authorities in such exceptional circumstances.” He added: “The survey, which saw wide participation of media professionals in various positions, aims to keep pace with the rapid changes in the industry and offer broad views that contribute to the sustainability of the media sector. It also focuses on ways to develop the sector and efforts to upgrading media content to keep up with the requirements of modern media.”