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Impact of COVID-19 on the News Industry

Apr 29, 2020 11:43 AM 2 min read

COVID-19 has thrown news media into a state of turmoil and stark contrasts. And as is the case with many other industries, the pandemic may end up unmaking – and remaking – the news industry.


Causing a Commotion - Impact of COVID-19 on News!

On the one hand, news organisations are benefiting from millions of people stuck at home and glued to their screens. An analysis of over 3,000 high-traffic sites, including the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, NBC, Conde Nast, Slate and TechCrunch found that article views have jumped by 50% since early March. Web traffic alone is up 30% for the top news sites and has even doubled for some publishers.


For some news outlets, the pandemic is actually good news in that it has shed light on their (or brought them back into) relevance. The BBC, for example, had been embroidled in a lot of controversy of late, with the UK government threatening to target the license-fee regime that funds the public broadcaster. Since the virus struck, viewership and readership on the BBC's news verticals have skyrocketed and even Conservative Party politicians, who have a proclivity for bashing the mainstream media, have grudgingly acceded the Corporation's relevance at this time and age.


And it’s no secret what readers are reading. Coronavirus articles represented just 1% of all articles published last month, but they got 13% of all page views. The pandemic is a swiftly evolving topic, with developments taking place on a daily basis, so the thirst for news is immense and palpable.


Bedlam Beckons

On the other hand is a picture of uncertainty. The lockdowns around the world have decimated ad revenue for news companies, leading to mass layoffs, furloughs, pay cuts or outright shutting down of businesses. This is shifting the industry from an ad-based model to a subscription-based model – but getting people to pay for news even if they really want to consume more news is a gamble that only large multinational news organisations can afford. For smaller outlets, mayhem and bankruptcy beckon.


As with the pandemic, the most vulnerable may not survive.


Clash of Contrasts

In India, the situation is similar.  But one trend is an outlier. While the coronavirus has accelerated a push towards digital journalism and decimated newspapers worldwide, in India newspaper consumption has actually jumped. A survey by Avance Field & Brand Solution found that the number of readers who spend more than half an hour every day reading newspapers has risen from 42% to 72% since the beginning of the lockdown.


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