How COVID-19 is Shaping Reporters and Newsrooms a Year Into the Pandemic

April 30, 2021

COVID-19 has re-shaped our lives in more ways than we can count, and journalists are no different. Muck Rack is out with its annual report on the State of Journalism.

In data collected from more than 2,400 journalists, here are some of the highlights related to sourcing and stories:

  • 86% of journalists stated that academic subject matter experts are credible sources for their reporting, followed by CEOs (74%), company PR professionals (55%), and agency PR professionals (34%).
  • 90% of journalists report that some or most of their reporting has pivoted to angles related to COVID-19.
  • 65% say they are writing more stories about COVID-19 and/or health and wellness, with 23% saying layoffs and furloughs at their outlet have increased their workload.

As for where they get their news, more than half say they go to online newspapers and magazines first (58%). Twitter remains their most valuable social media network (76%), followed by Facebook (38%) and LinkedIn (23%).

If you’re curious about perceptions among journalists about internal PR teams and outside agencies, Muck Rack asked journalists that too. Fifty-nine percent said this relationship was “mutually beneficial, but not quite a partnership.” Eighteen percent characterized it as “antagonistic, but not inherently a bad thing.” Seventeen percent called it a “necessary evil.”

As for pitching, the survey found that:

  • when compared to a year ago, 78% of respondents are just as likely or more likely to respond to pitches;
  • journalists reject pitches at the highest rates due to bad timing (25%), lack of personalization (21%), and being too lengthy (15%);
  • most still prefer a 1:1 on email (94% like, 8% dislike), with a distant second being mass email (18% like, 37% dislike).

If you’re going to pitch, Muck Rack’s data suggests journalists prefer Mondays (57%) and between the hours of 5 a.m. and 9 a.m. (34%), as well as 9 a.m. and noon (34%).

While we’ve heard anecdotally from reporters that they are being reached out to consistently, data in this report reflects that. Of respondents, 43% say they get 1-5 pitches a day, 21% receive 6-10 pitches, and 13% get 11-20. Five percent of respondents say they receive an astonishing 41+ pitches a day.

There’s more data available in Muck Rack’s report. Much of this data supports what we’ve already shared with you: journalists are swamped, relationships are important, avoid Friday pitching like the plague, and academic expertise is valuable.

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to a PR colleague in University Relations (or you can email us at unews@umn.edu). We’re always happy to chat!