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Problem Solved #11: News businesses discuss refocusing in the face of Covid-19

Problem #11: How the news business refocused in the face of Covid-19

To mark the launch of our new manifesto – setting out The Drum’s editorial mission to help readers solve their problems – we’re christening today Solutions Day on And to set the tone, over the course of 24 hours our team of worldwide journalists will be spotlighting 24 recent examples of times when our industry demonstrated its remarkable talent for solving problems.

Problem: Publishers had to tear up flat plans and focus on the Covid-19 crisis as ad income and distribution channels took a hit, leaving the industry to navigate unchartered waters.

Solution: Newspapers and magazines were quick to develop new formats and products around what locked-down readers needed — all with the remains of their newsroom staff scattered across dozens of households, instead of in the office.

The reverberations of Covid-19 were putting news media under immense pressure at a time when they have a vital role to play in the spread of public information. Print, digital and broadcast media all faced vast disruption. They had to redefine their products. Here's how they done it:

  • Newsrooms had to tread the fine line between informing and overwhelming people.

  • They had to replan. Anything they were likely to cover over the coming months was likely cancelled or disrupted.

  • Efficiency was key - the business models were under severe strain. Staff were furloughed and cut. Have they thinned the right ranks to ensure a prosperous year ahead?

  • Retail print sales were down, home deliveries up. And media consumption flipped overnight. Distribution needed to be reimagined.

  • Despite it being the most common news subject, ad tech generally demonetized Covid-19 stories in the name of brand safety.

  • The industry had to reinvent itself.

Steven Ladurantaye, head of news and current affairs at STV, said: “Being helpful is the single most useful thing we can do right now, as trite as that sounds, if we blow it, we should probably prepare for the worst… this is a moment where we need to decide what we want media to look like."

Read more Problem Solved articles in our Solutions Day hub.

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