Coronavirus and its Media Victims
We've just gone through the second weekend of the Coronavirus pandemic. Some say they coped better than the first, while others are already bored with the "new normal." There are also predictions it may be this way for not just weeks, but months and now the Olympics won't happen this summer either.
Various media outlets are trying to adjust to a world with very few sports leagues in action, greater difficulty of broadcasting events because of public health concerns and then there's the business side, as advertising dollars sail out the door.
All this got me to wondering what will be left after the pandemic? Will we still have a newspaper to read every morning?
Highlight Shows Without Highlights
We have a home gym in the basement and most mornings I head there after breakfast to work out. My routine is the same. I have the morning sports highlight shows on as background entertainment, starting with TSN at 6:30am and then Sportsnet at 7:00.
One morning last week I realized they weren’t on. TSN was showing a live ESPN program and Sportsnet had a hockey game on from a few months ago. It's easy to understand why. With no sports going on, there are no highlights to show. No sports and no highlights mean no sports highlight shows.
Something had to give. After TSN and Sportsnet limped through a few days of running stories about sports leagues and championships being shut down and scrapped, both threw in the towel on live programming, deciding it was a battle they couldn’t win.
We just went through the second weekend of having no sports on TV. It wasn’t any better than the first. To make matters worse, this was supposed to have been the first weekend of March Madness. That name took on an entirely different meaning this year.
The sports cable channels must be praying games resume. The longer the gap continues, the more it appears we’re in for several more weeks of dead air.
Then there’s online content. TSN and Sportsnet have popular websites that also are grasping for any sports news they can find. Some of the stories they’ve been running make me shake my head from a journalistic standpoint, but I guess desperate times require despite measures.
On Saturday night, the TSN website was "covering" the replay of the Toronto Raptors-Orlando Magic playoff game from a year ago as if it was actually happening at the time. Now that's what you call fake news.
The other big announcement last week came from CBC. Local newscasts, other than CBC North, are now cancelled until further notice (until this nightmare is over).
CBC said it just doesn’t have the resources to keep producing local news, but it would seem at a time like this, cancelling news programming is the last thing that should be happening. Mind you, CBC’s TV news ratings for the past few years indicate not many people watch its local newscasts anyway, so perhaps this isn’t such a bad decision.
The other point to consider is this. Most of the news that people care about these days relates to Coronavirus. CBC and CTV’s 24-hour news channels are doing an excellent job covering events related to the crisis and much of their coverage is live. Throw in daily updates from provincial Chief Medical Health Officers that are also covered live and streamed online, combined with social media updates, and as a result, I don’t think local news on CBC will be missed.
Maybe when all this is sorted out, CBC’s eventual business model will include a national presence, but no local television newscasts. Reporters will file from specific areas of the country, much like TSN and Sportsnet have been doing for years.
The Bunny Loses its Ink
Last week a piece of important media news slipped through the cracks. Playboy magazine basically announced the end of its print edition. It said it won’t print the magazine for the rest of the year because of the pandemic, and indications are this is it.
I thought that story deserved a lot more coverage than it got. I know we’re all focused on staying healthy and putting food on the table, but Playboy shutting down its magazine, is pretty big news isn’t it?
Playboy blamed the Coronavirus crisis, saying the problem is advertising. With the hit the economy is taking, companies are running for the hills. They shouldn’t stop marketing at a time like this, but most do.
Judging by the number of ads I’m seeing these days in Postmedia newspapers like the Edmonton Journal, I wonder how much longer they can keep printing? In this past Saturday’s edition, I estimated the number of pages of ads there were. I came to about 15 for a total. The Journal used to get that many pages alone from the Careers section on most Saturdays.
I would also imagine when Postmedia subscriptions come up for renewal over the next few months, there will be a sizeable drop in people paying for another year.
Will the pandemic put an end to Canada’s daily newspapers as we know them too?
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