The State ofAmerican JournalismJim Brady / October 2011
Today’s PresenterJim BradyCurrent• Editor-in-Chief, Journal Register Company• Vice President, Online News Association• Board Member, American Society of News EditorsPast• Former General Manager, TBD.com• Former Executive Editor, washingtonpost.com• Former AOL executive• Member of washingtonpost.com launch team• Former reporter & sportswriter, The Washington Post• Pulitzer Prize juror, 2010 & 2011
Today’s Agenda The State of American Journalism State of the Business 1 State of the Journalism 2 U.S. Strengths & Weaknesses 3 March 11 Coverage by US Media 4 Questions & Discussion 5 5
Emerging ModelsNICHE MARKETS• Newspapers are wonderful general interest publications. But the web is all about niche.• There’s been a rise of niche web publications that are making money: Business Insider, WebMD, AutoTrader, Mint, Babycenter.com, POLITICO, Epicurious, countless others…ADVANTAGES• Strong revenue potential, as advertisers prefer subject-focused audiences.• Strong editorial focus keeps overall costs down.DISADVANTAGES• Most verticals starting to get crowded.• Harder to expand when you’re focused on one subject.
Emerging ModelsNON-PROFITS• Market is currently strong for non-profits in the United States.• Relatively new sites such as ProPublica, Texas Tribune, MinnPost, Voice of San Diego are making waves in the industry.• Non-profits are doing the type of journalism that for-profit companies have struggled to support financially.ADVANTAGES• Lack of intense revenue pressure provides editorial freedom• Non-profits willing to support investigative and enterprise journalismDISADVANTAGES• Flow of money to support non-profits unpredictable• Non-profits have trouble building large, influential audiences
Emerging ModelsPAY MODELS• Many American news organizations are currently implementing -- or planning to implement – pay walls or other pay models.• New models are emerging, i.e. the New York Times’s metered model and CivilBeat’s membership model.ADVANTAGES• New revenue stream• More loyal, focused audience to monetize• Aids print circulation retentionDISADVANTAGES• Negative impact on traffic and ad revenue• Creates opportunity for free competitors• Blocking off content works against the ways of the Web
Emerging ModelsMOBILE• Morgan Stanley predicts that, by 2015, use of the mobile web will be greater than use of the desktop Web.• Many news organizations are hiring mobile editors, developers and product managers as new devices proliferate.ADVANTAGES• Consumers are already used to paying for mobile content, and will pay for things on mobile they won’t pay for on the web• Gives publishers the ability to reach consumers on a 24/7 basis• Location-based services open new doors for publishers and advertisersDISADVANTAGES• Advertisers have not yet embraced mobile in any meaningful way• Large number of mobile device types means business not easily scalable• Mobile development expensive
Emerging ModelsLOCAL DEALS• The success of companies like Groupon and Living Social has created a wave of local deal programs, many created and run by newspapers.• Needham & Co. predict the daily deals market will be more than $10B in the U.S. by 2015.ADVANTAGES• Relatively low-tech and simple to launch• Good way to reach small local advertisers, traditionally a hard group to win overDISADVANTAGES• Low barriers to entry for new competitors• Significant amount of administration required• Daily deals space already overrun, and still dominated by a few big dogs
Community EngagementThis is how most news organizations view “engagement.”
Community EngagementThis is how news organizations should view engagement.
Why Engage?• Because news organizations always have… – Used experts as sources – Interviewed citizens for stories – Accepted tips from the community – Run photos & videos not taken by staffers – Run freelance pieces by citizens & experts• Because you need readers more than they need you – Collectively, the community knows a lot more about each subject area than you do – Consumers have a lot of choices & not a lot of time – They don’t need to come directly to you to access your content – Without committed readers, you have no business• Because working with consumers produces better journalism
• Launched in 2006• More than 750,000 registered users• Received the seminal video from the Virginia Tech shootings• In 2011, held the first iReport Awards
ProPublica: Network• 5,000 Reporting Network members• They’ve helped conducted spot checks on federal stimulus spending, unraveled loan modification stories, and tracked the oversight of a state nursing board, among other efforts
TBD: Complete This Story• The audience can help you find out things you couldn’t• It’s a tacit admission media companies can’t – and don’t – know everything
Register Citizen Newsroom Cafe • Audience invited to sit in on newsroom meeting, watch a live stream or participate in a live chat • Free public wi-fi access offered, as well as coffee and snacks
TBD Community Network • More than 225 sites joined • We sold advertising for about 75 blogs • We linked to them aggressively, and put them in our geo-coded feeds to expose them to relevant audiences • Provided training sessions for network members on blogging, SEO, social media, etc.
Don’t Forget the Human Touch• At TBD.com, we did public events with local bloggers and other interested parties.• We held public office hours at coffee houses in the region.• We offered free training to community members on social media, blogging, SEO, etc.
Benefits of Engagement• Improved news gathering capacity – On-the-spot reporting – Geographically-specific reports• Additional research bandwidth• More subject-area expertise• An expansion of your coverage area by building contributor network• Useful feedback & direction• Increased on-site participation in contests, polls, commenting, etc.
If You Do This Right…• The community will view you as a partner, not a rival. That means: – They will come to your site more often – They will link to you more from blogs, social media – They will send you tips – They will tell their friends about you – In short, they will root for your success• You will produce better, more relevant journalism• More relevance = more audience = more revenue = more jobs
Social Media Usage• Facebook has over 800M active users, with half logging on daily. • More than 2B posts are liked and commented on per day. • More than 250M photos are posted per day.• Twitter recently announced it had 100M users logging in once a day, and 50M logging in daily.• In the U.S., in a survey done by the Ponemon Group showed: – Workers spent an average of 62 minutes each day using social media for personal reasons, compared with 37 minutes for business purposes. – Almost 60 percent of the organizations increased their Internet bandwidth to accommodate employees’ use of social media in the past 12 months. – Social media is essential or very important to meeting business objectives for 67 percent of respondents.
Why Social Media?• You need to go where your readers are• Social networks are great for attracting new users• Great venue for starting conversations with and getting feedback from readers and/or viewers• More and more business being transacted via social networks
Social Media Tips• Dedicate staff to social media• Use a more conversational tone on social platforms• Use social tools not just to disseminate information, but to gather it as well• Leverage the audience already using social media for crowdsourcing projects
Curation• If you want to be the first stop for consumers interested in any topic, you should curate: • TBD linked out to all members of our community network • TBD linked out to local sites that were not part of the community network • We linked out to other local news organizations • We even linked to TV stations that were competitive with us • In short, we linked to EVERYONE
Why Curation?• Some of the Web’s largest news sites are based on the concept: • Drudge Report • Huffington Post • Yahoo News • Google News• Readers are looking for sites to serve not just as chefs, but maitre d’s.• If you are a fair arbiter of the best content out there, readers will start their day with you. If that happens, you’ve already won.
TBD Community Network• We drove traffic to the work of our community network members.
Why Multimedia?• Video usage on the web increasing dramatically• Photography remains one of the most popular types of content on the web• Radio usage on the web remains high• Interactive graphics becoming a story form all of its own
Why Multimedia?• Video usage on the web increasing dramatically• Photography remains one of the most popular types of content on the web• Radio usage on the web remains high• Interactive graphics becoming a story form all of its own• Remember, the first 15 years on TV were radio guys in front of a camera. The first 15 of the web were print, TV and radio guys trying to repeat their format on the web.• The web is evolving into something all its own; you have to evolve with it.
Why Mobile?• Mobile devices are attached to consumers on a near 24/7 basis.• In most cases, you know exactly where your mobile users are, so you can provide geo-specific services• Consumers are in the habit of paying for mobile content in ways they never were on the web• Unlike the web, mobile payment systems are built-in, seamless and guilt-free (at least initially)
The Right Way to Think Mobile• Reject the “platform agnostic” mantra• Remember that mobile is a mindset of its own, with unique consumer needs and revenue opportunities• Remember that each mobile device is a product in and of itself: The iPhone, iPad, Droid and Kindle require different strategies• Dedicate people to building good mobile products• Make your mobile app and/or site complementary to your web site, not a mini version of it
The Right Way to Think Mobile• Remember what makes a mobile device unique: portability, location tracking and 24/7 access to the consumer.• Remember that mobile allows you to get content from the reader, not just send it out• Don’t just focus on your own mobile sites. Get into the streams of Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, Instagram, etc.• Focus on utility: weather, stocks, alerts, traffic, public transportation data, sports scores, etc.
QR Codes• Many papers are starting to use QR codes in newspaper or via e- mail.• Lots of potential for these…• For example, why not QR codes on all your newspaper boxes that list places to eat, places to show, historical landmarks near that box?
Why Location-Based Services?• In an increasingly mobile world, where you are matters more and more every day• Consumers only sporadically care about regional, national or world news. They always care about what’s going on near where they live or work.• Being able to target location opens the door to significant editorial and revenue possibilities.
Geocoding• At TBD.com, we delivered geographically relevant news to users. – We had a team of real humans reading and adding geo-codes to stories from TBD, our blog network and other local news organizations. – TBD’s home page had a module that delivered news to up to five zip codes that a user signaled as important to them – TBD’s mobile app allowed you to see geographically-relevant stories
Augmented Reality• The combination of the phone’s GPS with use of the camera provides a near-virtual reality experience.
Foursquare / Gowalla• Knowing where consumers are offers major reporting opportunities: – Looking for sources – Communicating news to location-specific audiences – Distribution of your reviews and tips
The Future JournalistCore Skills – Reporting – Writing – InterviewingNew Skills – Ability to shoot and edit video – Ability to take and edit photography – Willingness to engage with community – More business knowledge, stronger entrepreneurial instinctCareer Path – More Startups, Less Established Players
PART THREESTRENGTHS & WEAKNESSES OF AMERICAN JOURNALISM
Strengths of U.S. Journalism• Freedom of the press remains a core value• Exciting new tools at our disposal• Entrepreneurial opportunities increasing, which means journalists are better able to pursue passions• New business models emerging• Stronger coverage of niche subjects• More voices being heard, not just the elite
Weaknesses of U.S. Journalism• Less accountability journalism• Coverage of local areas getting weaker• Too much overlapping coverage• Public opinion of journalists is poor• Still seeking working business models• Consumers seeking sites that affirm their views• The world has changed, and many news organizations are still acting as if it hasn’t
March 11 Coverage Weaknesses• The U.S. coverage was largely supplementary • Not nearly enough U.S. journalists on the ground • For most part, cable networks did not send top on-air talent • Too heavy an emphasis on visuals; not enough depth • Particularly weak explanatory reporting on Fukushima• The U.S. coverage was largely temporary • Cable TV talent didn’t stay long once immediate danger passed • Follow-up reporting – especially on Fukushima and its long- term effects – has been poor.
March 11 Coverage Strengths• Early coverage dominated all news cycles, and the front pages of all major U.S. print publications• U.S. media made good use of social media and other citizen-driven sources of information
U.S. Foreign Coverage Issues• High costs at time of severe budget cuts• Sporadic interest in foreign news from U.S. consumers• Most U.S. news organizations trying to refocus on coverage of local issues• Lack of money, people and sometimes widespread interest means sustaining focus on foreign news is difficult