Journalism’s loss might be an opportunity for other sectors

It’s no secret that media companies are shedding jobs left, right and centre and it’s unlikely that those jobs will ever be replaced, even once the recession is over. Conservative estimates say that the number of journalists employed by the industry will decrease by 40% – 50% compared to before the crash. Less conservative estimates put that figure at 80%. Journalism schools, on the other hand, are producing more graduates than ever before. So what is going to happen to all these journalists?

The obvious path would be for them to go into PR and certainly many ex-journalists do. But this is an amazing opportunity for businesses in every sector, as Adam Tinworth and David Meerman Scott point out. David says:

[M]any organizations — corporations, nonprofits, government agencies, and educational institutions — finally understand the value of what I call “brand journalism,” creating interesting information online that serves to educate and inform consumers. People in companies now realize web marketing success comes from creating content-rich web sites, videos, podcasts, photos, charts, ebooks, white papers and other valuable content.

However, many of the companies I speak with are trying to figure out who will create the content that they need for their online initiatives. Marketers, executives, and entrepreneurs say things like: “David, I need help. If I knew how to create great content, I’d already be doing it.”

At every speech I deliver I say to corporations one of the best ways to create great Web content is to actually hire a journalist, either full- or part-time, to create it. Journalists, both print and broadcast, are great at understanding an audience and creating content that buyers want to consume–it’s the bread and butter of their skill set.

The rise of social media as a community engagement tool – and blogging in particular as a tool for companies to get their own, unedited story out – means that there is an increasing need for talented storytellers and communicators. Writing full time is not as easy as it looks and the skills that journalists bring to the table are valuable and hard to acquire.

Businesses who want to really bump up their social media presence should seriously consider hiring dedicated writers in addition to any evangelist program. Of course, you still have to take care that you’re hiring someone with the right sort of social media nouse (or at least, the right attitude and a willingness to learn about social media), which is not something all journalists have. But nevertheless, there’s a huge pool of talent searching for work right now and businesses would be daft to ignore it.