Now is the time to seize the opportunity

It is now time to start reflecting what has happened and what is going to happen in the media industry because of the COVID-19 pandemic, writes Associate Professor Päivi Maijanen from LUT School of Business and Management.

After these past months of confusion and horror with the pandemic, it is now time to start reflecting on what has happened and what is going to happen. Here, I am referring to media and the challenging times the industry has been (and still is) going through because of the pandemic. With reflecting, I mean that we media scholars and media professionals would sit down together at the same table and really start figuring out what is happening – what are the challenges and opportunities that this horrifying virus has created for the industry.

When listening to media people – scholars or professionals – the main message seems to be that something really important is happening and that the pandemic has created a kind of a turning point.  The small virus has changed the media environment in a great deal.  As we well know, for years, we scholars have been studying and the media professionals have been carrying out digital transformation. Of course, this ongoing transformation is still a relevant phenomenon to study, but what seems to be happening is the acceleration of this process, initiating new trends.

Media firms are struggling

The COVID-19 is a disruption that adds on and transforms the already existing disruption. Here I want to repeat my request that media scholars and media professionals would really start together figuring out what is going on. Indeed, we are in good start because we can see many webinars taking place on this topic. One of them was the online discussion #emmatalks organized by the community of media management scholars, European Media Management Association, with the topic of Media business before and after the coronavirus pandemic.

So, what are our observations? We have seen how the revenues from traditional advertising sources have radically gone down and media firms are struggling with layoffs and efforts to survive on a daily basis. As for the work, during the weeks of remote work employees have been missing the creative team power and support of their colleagues. It has been a time of extreme pressure to learn and understand and write timely coverage about the new unpredictable virus.

On the other hand, during the past weeks, the role and importance of media has increased enormously for every individual and for the whole society. We have been hungry for – reliable! – information in order to cope with the unexpected and uncomprehensive global threat. As an example, statistics show that younger age groups have started to rely on and use more traditional information sources. 

Furthermore, it has clearly caused the acceleration of digitalization – just in a few weeks companies have reached more than during the past years altogether. During the months of remote work, employees have learned to use digital tools and create new ways (live blogs etc.) to better serve their digital customers.  

This is an opportunity

The pandemic created a shock providing a typical entrepreneurial challenge in terms of threats and opportunities.  As professor Lucy Küng quoted one media executive in #emmatalks: "Shame on us, if we don't seize this opportunity to push forward what we have been trying to do for at least ten years".  

The opportunities and tasks are various, starting from redefining the strategies and missions with the questions of raison d'être: Why do we exist?  What is good journalism? What is responsible journalism? The preceding quote of the media executive applies perfectly to us media scholars as well: "Shame on us, if we don't seize this opportunity" – to study what is relevant and important at the moment. Best of luck to all of us!

Päivi Maijanen acts as an Associate Professor at LUT School of Business and Management. Her research focuses on strategic management, media, digital transformation and organizational renewal and change management. Follow her on Twitter: @MaijanenPaivi

The original text was published on #MediaContradictions website. #MediaContradictions is a research project that examines the potential of sustainable business models in the Finnish media sector. The project is funded by the Helsingin Sanomat Foundation.