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Pandemic Has Been Positive for Journalists and Newsrooms – FCC Panel

COVID-19 has caused widespread tragedy and turmoil, but a panel of journalists and media experts said that there have been upsides for journalists and newsrooms in the midst of the pandemic. In a Zoom event hosted by the Foreign Correspondents’ Club and moderated by correspondent member and Clare Hollingowrth Fellow Jennifer Creery, the panelists shared their views on the shifts in the media landscape. 

The author of a weekly newsletter called Dari Mulut ke Mulut which focuses on Southeast Asia, Erin Cook said she started writing a newsletter as an alternative to more traditional methods of reaching an audience. 

“The newsletter was kind of a way to build my own entry-level steps,” said Cook. “Luckily 2016 was a deeply fascinating time for Southeast Asia, so that really helped build an audience that maybe would have been a bit harder to find.”

She said that switching to a paid subscription format on Substack had allowed her to do more of the work she wanted to do. 

“By going with a paid subscription [model], it means that I can really hone in on these stories that wouldn’t get a run anywhere else, and I can connect directly with the audiences that understand that and are looking for that sort of thing,” said Cook. “That’s definitely one of the advantages of going down the newsletter path rather than sticking with the traditional outlets.”

Tanmoy Goswami, who writes about mental health on Sanity by Tanmoy, first started writing a newsletter because the pandemic had forced the publication he was working for to shut down. He wanted to find another way to connect with his readers, so he started his newsletter in December 2020.

“Within 100 days, it became one of the top paid, health-related newsletters on Substack,” said Goswami.

Alan Soon, who started Splice Media to help drive the transformation of Asia’s media industry, said the pandemic has been good for media organizations in some ways.

“I think there’s going to be a net-positive outcome when all of this is said and done,” said Soon. I think the acceleration and pushing newsrooms to adopt new technologies and workflows has been really powerful.”

“Because of the pandemic, a lot of journalists have discovered new ways to engage audiences, and I think this is really a good thing.”

Watch the full discussion below:

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