Exploring the future of journalism

The future of journalism and content monetization are among the most debated topics in the media industry.

At the recent DLD (Digital Life Design) conference in Tel Aviv, media experts from renowned publications such as Wired UK, Daily Mail and the Wall Street Journal gave their perspective on the future of the publishing industry.

Here is an overview of some of the key points raised.

Online journalism differs from traditional journalism, but is still very demanding:

James Bromley, former Managing Director of “We were very unfashionable about creating online content. You have to be incredibly fast running, predict where stories are. There are no weeks of research as in print. But it’s not less diminishing”.

Ben Rooney, technology editor, Wall Street Journal (WSJ), Europe: “Newspapers used to be a good distribution mechanism. People used to buy newspapers in the morning to read the news of yesterday. The Internet could blow these things to pieces”.

Both monthly titles and online publications are built around trust their audiences put in them:

Ben Rooney, WSJ: “It’s the question of trust and responsibility. Newspapers live or die by the scoops they can get. What the Wall Street Journal sells is trust. If news appears in the Wall Street Journal, it moves the market. It’s very humiliating to get a correction”.

Print publications are increasingly selling experience and a sense of belonging to a community:

Madhu Venkataramanan, Wired UK: “Monthly magazines can’t break any news but they build communities of interests. Even online people are trying to build communities. For example, we are talking to a group of people who love technology”.

James Bilefield, advisor for Condé Nast International: “There’s an increasing need to sit back and immerse oneself in the product. Vogue is for example about what matters and the point of view, it’s experience and not news consumption. Sit down, get a glass of wine and enjoy the experience”.

Competition for newspapers is changing:

Ben Rooney, WSJ: “Newspapers now have much more competitors. They have to compete in a way they didn’t have before. It’s not just competition with other newspapers, but also with Facebook, Twitter or Angry Birds”.

James Bilefield recommends to extend the brand across all the different platforms and make sure you are relevant: “You need to be strong in all different channels. Vogue in France is followed on Twitter by more people than Le Monde. Why? Because they publish updates from fashion shows”.

Madhu Venkataramanan from Wired UK doesn’t see social media as competitors but rather as allies: “We want to leverage social media. Recently our executive editor tweeted and asked his audience what the things that we are not covering are. He received lot of feedback. That helps us make stories better”.

Ways of monetizing content: from tablet apps to paywalls and content packages:

James Bilefield, Condé Nast International: “You have to apply editorial expertise to the content. Tablet apps enhanced with video, audio and other extras have future. In the future, tablets will not be the only platform, but it’s much easier to pay on a tablet than online. You can make money from journalism, but you have to change the way you’ve done it in the past. One way is to try news cooperations. It’s proven to be hard to sell single stories for the web. So far the trend is in other direction: bundling content where people will pay for it””

James Bromley, MailOnline: “We are going through a change in the way information is accessed by the readers. The link which will help you disseminate information is much stronger than the platform it’s been built on. Our work is about stolen pieces of time: readers have four or ten minutes while on a train or waiting for someone. So the question is: How can we take time from Facebook time?”

Journalists need to use the brand of their organization to build up their own personal brands:

Madhu Venkataramanan, Wired UK: “Both brands feed into each other. The personal brand exists now more than it did before. Usually it’s with the help of a famous newspaper or magazine you write for and where you start from.You use the media brand to build up your personal brand”.

Author: Natalia Karbasova

Natalia Karbasova is a regular contributor to onMedia and works at Hubert Burda Media where she conducts research into e-content and e-commerce issues.

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