The State of News Media — Matter Hosts the PRSA Colorado Annual Media Roundtable

By Matter

Earlier this month, our Denver office had the pleasure of hosting a regional media roundtable – the annual, signature networking event by the Public Relations Society of America, Colorado Chapter. Fifty participants across Colorado-based PR agencies and in-house communications departments had an opportunity to listen to a panel discussion featuring several distinguished journalists and editors to learn about the latest trends and changes happening across newsrooms.

Mitch Jelniker, a veteran broadcast journalist, moderated the panel discussion with: 

During the panel, the speakers shed light on coverage priorities within their respective media outlets, sharing details on how newsrooms across the nation have been evolving considering the Covid-19 pandemic and the industry undergoing digital transformation. Afterwards, the participants had an opportunity to connect with the panelists in break-out sessions, learning about the tips, tricks and best practices for successful pitches.

Image 1: The panelists. From left to right: Cassidy Ritter, BuiltIn; Mitch Jelniker, freelance broadcast journalist; Jesus Sanchez Melean, El Comercio de Colorado; Michael de Yoanna, Colorado Community Media; Dennis Huspeni, The Denver Gazette; Jessica Thomas,;  Stephanie Wilson, Denver Life MagazineErica Buehler, lifestyle & travel freelance writer
Image 2: The PRSA Colorado Programs/Social Events Committee. From left to right: Alicia Nieva-WoodgateShelby Knafel, Jesse Davis, Hannah Brandt, Samantha Coulter, Taylor Schillace
Image 3: from left to right: Agata Porter, Kate Aviv, Matter Communications

The main themes discussed throughout the evening included:

  • Shifting audiences and demographics. Developing a deeper understanding of who the news audience is, what they need, and what’s important to them can only help the news industry. For El Comercio de Colorado, the largest Spanish-language newspaper in Colorado, the pandemic offered an opportunity to expand coverage to the areas previously not served by the newspaper. In case of lifestyle publications such as Denver Life Magazine, the target readership continues to skew younger as more luxury brands are coming to the Denver area.
  • Digital transformation in the media industry. The transition from print to digital innovation has reshaped the news industry, and, today, organizations need to harness the power of their digital platforms to generate insights on readers’ habits. Colorado Community Media, which owns 26 newspapers across the Denver area, is constantly working on digitizing its properties, making community newspapers more vibrant and accessible. The Denver Gazette, launched in late 2020 asa digital only newspaper, is developing strategies to meet its readership on social media platforms, including Instagram.
  • Trends as we move into 2023. The economic uncertainty will drive the need for cost saving and efficiency as the media industry is looking to remain competitive and attract target audiences. Local media outlets plan to remain razor-focused on covering the most pressing issues affecting its communities and neighborhoods, such as the economic growth of a city/state, political economics, public health and public safety, and sustainability/climate change and mental health. For national outlets such as Entrepreneur and BuiltIn, the newsrooms will be looking for compelling and inspiring stories of start-ups and business owners tied to current trends of the evolving technology business landscape.All panelists agreed that deeper, more thoughtful stories with a personal angle will continue to resonate with their audiences and compelling, original content will remain applicable to the everyday reader and their lives.

The media and news world will continue to evolve quickly, not only reckoning with ongoing trends and disruptions within the industry, but also in its continued response to pandemic-led behavioral changes. However, even though the changes the industry has been undergoing are quite dramatic and transformational, they do drive more innovation and offer news organizations a new wave of opportunities to reach their desired audiences.