The Future of Media

Post ImageLast session of the day is all about media and it’s future, particularly that of newspapers. Participating is Mathew Ingram, Angus Frame, Tomer Strolight, and Tomi Poutanen. Here some notes from the session (my comments in italics):

  • Why is Craigslist successful? Because newspaper classifieds are restrictive and expensive. Apparently the site steals $50 million of advertising from newspapers a year.
  • Angus says you need to get people to change their understanding of what the daily paper is. A big change was adding breaking news to globeandmail.com, so that the paper isn’t only publishing once every 24 hours. The next goal is to have the Globe understand that control has to change; allowing readers to comment on articles, for example.
  • Angus says its tough to get this new kind of thinking into the daily activities of a newsroom such as The Globe’s.
  • Tomer says that while not everyone is on board with doing things online, the organization is. This means they (Toronto Star) are doing things like a Craigslist competitor.
  • Mathew wonders if its easier for Yahoo to become a new media organization. Tomi says absolutely. Yahoo doesn’t create a lot of content, but works to make sure the infrastructure is right. The vision is to enrich peoples lives by allowing them to find news, share it, etc. Yahoo is by no means a traditional media company.
  • Yahoo has a ton of partnerships with publishers, because they drive a lot of traffic to them. Tomi says things are changing, you can no longer just print Reuters articles and call it a newspaper. Angus says what’s being missed in the acceptance of huge change, going from the newspaper as a whole as a product to just the importance of a single article that might appear on Yahoo News.
  • Angus says aggregators are going to be the dominant stop for people looking for information. So you have to make it worthwhile for people to go to The Globe. The strengths for The Globe are journalists, and the audience, which provides a unique opportunity. You can’t aggregate the package.
  • Tomer says that now the publishers have information such as which stories are most popular, what are people following, etc. He says the change is unbundling, so newspapers need to find new ways to make money.
  • In a lot of ways, traditional media was about pushing stuff out there. Comments, voting, patterns, etc gives much more data than previously possible, so writers can find out instantly if people liked their articles.
  • Tomer says that in the past, you could have an entire career in journalism writing stuff that no one ever read and be none the wiser. That doesn’t happen anymore, due largely to the availability of so much more data.
  • Tomer says you have to find a unique value proposition, and not trying to change the newspaper into commodity content. Newspapers have to get leaner to meet people’s time constraints.
  • Angus says it is very common for publishers and writers to underestimate the intelligence of their readers, who might have something to add. Writers shouldn’t shy away from that opportunity!
  • Angus says that the online reader is very similar to the offline reader, the newness of the medium has worn off. One is not really more or less tech-savvy than the other.
  • There’s no doubt about it, people go to where they feel the information is the best, according to Angus.
  • What about registration for newspapers, even if it was free? Tomer says it was a lose-lose situation for everyone. After registration was removed, traffic rose by 50% after three months.
  • Are newspapers moving towards reporting or opinion? Angus says everyone is trying to add something more of value, so yes, a lot more opinion as part of the drive to make something unique. There is more opinion on everything now than there ever has before.
  • Yahoo highlights the content that is most popular among readers. Yahoo is also more editorial while Google’s competing news product is entirely algorithmic.
  • Any thought to becoming a news aggregator? Angus says no, The Globe is a niche player in the Canadian media market. The idea of partnering and linking to content sources that complement what the Globe already offers is the main change to go after. Tomer says there’s no way to compete with Yahoo and Google, so why would you become an aggregator?
  • Angus hopes the whole idea of a walled garden is long dead.

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