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State of the Media Report 2012: David Coates

David Coates

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The future of newspapers doesn’t look quite as dismal as it did a couple of years ago. Although newspaper publishers are still trimming staff when needed, newsrooms are increasingly incorporating digital into daily practice. In a recent interview, David Coates, managing editor of newspaper content at Vocus Media Research Group, noted all this and more as he discussed highlights from the Vocus State of the Media Report.

“The ink-stained wretch is being replaced by the digital savvy geek,” he said. The staffers most in tune with digital and social media are leading the way into an increasingly digital frontier. Today, people waiting in line at stores can be seen reading some form of communication on their smartphone or tablet. And yet, the tablet’s presence isn’t as big as it’s going to be, Coates predicted.

But it’s on its way. Gannett, the largest newspaper publisher in the country, recently announced it was buying thousands of iPhones and iPads so that reporters and editors can be tuned in and do things more remotely, said Coates. This comes after the 700 layoffs Gannett issued in 2011.

“These people are on-call more often and being asked to do a lot more,” he said.

Meanwhile, social media icons include New York Times media reporter Brian Stelter, who truly embraced social media. According to Coates, he encouraged many of his colleagues at the Times to also use social media. “That’s building the brand of the contact, and it really helps the brand of the newspaper itself,” he said. Today, journalists are kind of like celebrities. “Their opinion matters, which is why when they tweet something, people are listening.”

Although social media is obviously important to journalists, the majority still prefer to be pitched by email, noted Coates. As always, know your audience. “The biggest complaint we get from media people is ‘hey, people are sending me things I have no interest in.’ We don’t want folks getting flooded with stuff that’s not interesting to them,” he said. “If you send them something that is interesting, they will be more than willing to look at it and maybe write about it.”

For the full report and to hear more from Coates, visit the Vocus blog. Check back for more highlights tomorrow.

–Katrina M. Mendolera

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