June 05, 2015
/ by Neal Gregus
Every TV viewer today has a platform to voice their opinion on every episode of any show as they air live. Jason Lynch, the new TV Writer at Adweek: The Voice of Media, finds that following his instincts, rather than his Twitter feed, is always and has always been his best bet in covering the television industry.
Lynch cut his teeth working up through the entertainment ranks covering TV and film at People for more than 17 years. He uses his knowledge of the industry to find the most intriguing story angles for exploring entertainment, much of the time from a business perspective. In an age where spoiler alerts are present on every Facebook Timeline and Twitter newsfeed it is imperative to jump on stories as they happen in real-time, an adjustment Lynch has made since transitioning from his time solely working for print publications.
He recently sat down with the Cision Blog to share his perspective on covering television, what peaks his attention from PR and other lessons he has learned throughout his career.
Photo courtesy of Jason Lynch
What do you see as the overall mission of Adweek and your part as television writer for the publication?
As the leading source of news for marketing, media and advertising professionals, Adweek reports the news, profiles influential figures and analyzes the trends that affect media buyers, CMOs and advertisers, as well as anyone else who consumes media and advertising—i.e., everyone. As TV writer for the website and magazine, my job is to report the latest news and trends in the industry while highlighting their relevance to media buyers and advertisers, as well as a more general TV audience.
When you are deciding on a story topic, what are the primary criteria it first has to meet in order to be considered? What peaks your interest in a pitch?
I want to make sure the topic is interesting to Adweek readers (and myself), and isn’t a story you’re going to find everywhere else. Along the same lines, it also helps when I don’t feel like the exact same pitch has been sent to a hundred different journalists. For example, don’t just pitch me your show or client—i.e. this show is coming back next month, you should really do something on it—but explain why that show/person would be relevant for Adweek.
Do you think writing about a specific topic makes your work easier? Has it limited you thus far?
I spent most of my career at People, where I always had to cover TV and film through the prism of the personalities involved. Yet my biggest strength was always my knowledge of the industry itself and what makes it tick, and that has served me well in these past couple years as I cover all the aspects of the industry that I never had a chance to at People. The great thing about covering television is that the industry keeps growing every year, so there are always new shows and ideas that lend themselves to a story.
What is the most drastic change you have seen in news reporting since you have joined the field?
The immediacy of everything, especially in the age of Twitter, when information gets disseminated around the world in a few seconds. You have to jump on and respond to news breaks within minutes, and that can be challenging to someone who spent most of their career in magazines, where you have days or weeks to piece together your stories. I wrote five stories today—four for Adweek.com, one for the next issue of the magazine—which used to be the number of stories I’d work on in a month during my earlier days at People.
In the world of emerging connectivity and the ability to have instant access to any information available in a given industry, what have you found to be your most reliable tool when researching or looking for emerging stories/trends?
While Google, Twitter and the rest of the Internet have made it easier to find and share information, I still find that the most reliable tool is my own instinct—my take on which TV shows I’m watching are likely to connect (and not connect) with audiences, and which angle is most compelling for a breaking news story.
In your opinion, has the surge of social media presence across all media outlets been a positive or a negative for journalism as a profession?
A: I would call it a positive, without question. I spend most of my life on Twitter, which I use as my RSS feed, and I rely on that to let me know what is going on in the world of television. That said, I also need to remember my Twitter feed isn’t reflective of the world at large, and the fact that everyone on my feed has been going nuts over the new Lifetime drama UnReal (which is terrific, by the way) doesn’t mean that the show is going to be a hit—and so far, it’s not. But it’s never been easier to interact with my fellow TV writers, sources and readers, and that’s been (mostly) fantastic.
What innovative trends have you noticed taking a foothold in your sphere of coverage that are shaping the way your audience ingests the news?
The TV industry is going through enormous changes as far as how viewers consume content, and how those audiences can be monetized. My kids have no concept that shows start at specific times or air on a certain channel. To them, it’s all about on demand, and streaming whatever show they feel like watching at that moment on Netflix or Watch Disney Channel. As audiences increasingly watch TV (and frequently, binge-watch TV) on their own timetable, the industry needs to catch up with those shifts, because you can’t put that genie back in the bottle.
When pitching Lynch, he reminds all PR professionals to send pitches that are tailored both to his coverage and Adweek’s audience in order to have the best chance of success. He explains, “Remember that there’s a relationship beyond whatever story you’re pitching at the moment. Not every story is going to work; and sometimes only a small number of them.”
Also, as in all things, timing is everything when considering the pitch. Large events like up-fronts or award shows completely bog down journalists in the entertainment industry and any stories not related will likely fall by the wayside. So check your calendar and plan your pitch accordingly.
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