The situation is grim, and there are good reasons for this. Yet, the media environment was not exactly striving before the crisis, and still, many independent newsrooms managed rather well. The virus creates new challenges, and that means a lot of resilience is needed.
It is important to send the right messages to both audiences - and advertisers. Slowly, newsrooms are repeatedly trying the crowdfunding model. While, this is not the most sustainable solution, this option has proven effective in Ukraine and can help any struggling newsroom during the initial pandemic period. Some safety nets in the forms of grants could help the struggling newsroom too as they can sustain the work of media outlets during the time of reshuffling its revenue sources and optimising spending.
For instance, during the quarantine, some newsrooms reduced the production of printed newspaper, as fewer people on the streets results in fewer buyers of newspapers. While this source of funding may be lost, turning to a digital format is the right path. For example, podcasts are getting hits and niche newsletters are also retaining a readership. Newsrooms are also targeting new advertisers and proposing better plans for existing ones. After all,some businesses are doing better during the pandemic, so it is essential to reach out to them.
The newsrooms also have to reassess their relationship with content. Using paywalls is usually met with suspicion, especially at the local level. If that does not seem like a working option, there are other ways to sell content
. Media are selling some materials or access to specific information on their websites, such as job markets or case studies. Media outlets are trying to have content that is different to competitors, and the content is likely to be non-pandemic related. True, Ukrainians - like most Europeans now - care about COVID-19, but they are also getting tired of the concentration of news on the subject. Those media outlets that manage to fill in the information gap will win in the long run.
The current crisis is essentially about knowing the audience and understanding what they want from you, which is highlighted by the recent surge of podcast popularity. As Ukrainians want more digital content, it's possible to deliver something interesting, catchy, and popular - and also make it profitable by targeting the advertisers who can pay, through new sponsorship models, and by offering paid content option for the readers/listeners/viewers. Journalists quickly managed to adapt to the use of online interviews, so now, they need to adapt to the new business model.