In celebration of the Cebu Press Freedom Week, I tackle something close to my heart, the media industry. The younger generation of media practitioners in Cebu, of which I am part, has experienced a tumultuous season in the industry.
I, for one, began as a correspondent in a newspaper that closed down within three months of my entry.
While I was lucky to be part of its digital counterpart as a reporter, a job I eventually left after four years, my entry into the media was already a foreboding of the struggles that the entire industry is facing.
This is also the reason why the business of media interests me more than anything else in the world.
In the last five years, I saw the media industry in Cebu dwindle. There are less reporters and writers on the field, newsrooms are shrinking, and outlets are barely breaking even.
With rapid digitalization, the business platform for news and information did not just “evolve,” it was radicalized. Understandably, many outlets have struggled until now to keep up.
My previous company taught me how important it was for the business model of media outlets to adapt to the market of information consumers that shifted from traditional media to digital platforms.
It taught me how to compete in a very saturated digital market that has lumped radio, television, and print into a platform that allows individual preference to stand paramount in the presentation and acceptance of information.
I once asked myself, “How can the mass media survive the age of social media when it is grounded in the standard belief of collective delivery of information?” Turns out, it was merely a matter of riding the waves of the algorithm. So you better learn how to surf.
Many of my peers quit in the first one and a half years of their careers in media. I didn’t because I was fortunate to have seen through the economic struggle and found purpose in the digital platform.
What amazed me more was when I moved to SunStar Cebu. This news outlet has not only successfully conquered the digital space but has maintained the integrity and power of its printed form.
SunStar Cebu’s consistent circulation and influence show that the news industry remains a good business model.
While information consumer habits have changed, news outlets such as SunStar have adapted to deliver credible news and information, creating varied and widespread content to hit a vast demographic of readers of all ages.
With the eyeballs comes revenue. The digital news platform is something any brand, organization, or individual can use to reach a particular audience and provide legitimacy to their information.
And while competition on digital is sky-high, there is really little competition among fact-checkers and truth-tellers in the platform. After all, everyone at some point in their lives is going to read the news.
One of my clients recently asked me, “Is the media still a good business? Is it still profitable? Why should I buy your news?”
Well, I say to him, Sir, the business of media is hard but I find that the TRUTH is always worth investing in.