INMA CEO emphasises importance of quality journalism amid transforming industry
World Congress Blog | 25 May 2023
The pandemic was an immensely productive “opportunity in chaos,” as readers relied on digital media more than ever to receive vital information, according to INMA Executive Director/CEO Earl J. Wilkinson.
Wilkinson kicked off the annual World Congress of News Media — the first in person since 2019 — with his thoughts on the profound change wrought by COVID-19. Standing on stage at the Times Center Thursday morning, he presented the findings of a pre-conference attendee survey.
“In 2020, several CEOs told me they squeezed the next two years of transformation into two months,” he said.
Three years later, here’s how the 68 companies in attendance responded:
The media’s unprecedented embrace of the digital has had a lasting effect. When asked about other emerging technologies, people’s attitudes were generally positive:
According to Wilkinson, the media is in the midst of a digital transformation: “We are in the adolescent stage, and it’s awkward!”
Audiences have almost completely migrated away from the traditional print-based model, and advertisers have mostly migrated, but the process of newsgathering has been slower to catch up.
There is a delicate balance between retaining a publication’s invaluable legacy and thinking frankly about how to maximise value moving forward.
What’s next for the industry? Wilkinson has a few predictions.
Aside from news organisations going completely digital within the next 20 years, Wilkinson said he believes the market is shifting away from brand awareness and toward driving purchase at the point of intent.
He has his bets on for-profit journalism prevailing, while models like Substack, community media, and start-up newsrooms fade into the background. Wilkinson cautioned editors not to waste time unlearning antiquated workflows and culture when they could be forging forward.
For Wilkinson, no matter how unimaginable the future may be, one thing will remain consistent: the importance of quality journalism. Not all journalism is built the same. Some kinds of journalism yield greater rewards than others. But good journalism is not enough; amplification is key.
“Journalism is the beating heart of this industry, and it’s a special place to be,” he said.
To drive his point home, Wilkinson distributed signs among the attendees in the auditorium that read “I Stand With Evan” in reference to the imprisonment of Washington Post journalist Evan Gershkovich:
“INMA is pleased to shine a light on the false charges — an intimidation move against all journalists covering the Ukraine war. An attack on Evan is an attack on all journalists.”