How Journalism Faces the Challenges of Digital

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Presentation made to the annual forum of Marketing Group, Jeddah 2011

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How Journalism Faces the Challenges of Digital

  1. 1. How journalism can meet the challenges of digital content<br />Professor George Brock<br />Head of Journalism<br />City University London<br />Saudi Research & Marketing Group annual meeting<br />Jeddah, January 2011<br />
  2. 2. My approach today<br />Human knowledge and communication are changing in fundamental ways <br />Analysis<br />Toolkit<br />Q&A<br />
  3. 3. “Zoom out” from journalism<br />A thought experiment: please imagine yourself in the German city of Mainz in 1458<br />You are conducting market research on the effects of a new invention: printing.<br />We are at the beginning of long-lasting, multiple waves of change. The future will confound expectations. Repeatedly.<br />Get used to it.<br />
  4. 4. Consumers of news think differently<br />Digital is not just a new publishing platform<br />Ideas and definitions of “news” and “journalism” are up for grabs<br />Perceptions of value are changing<br />Not only journalism is changed: privacy, democracy, money, handwriting, books, maps, teaching, music, culture, society, communication<br />Information is now in glut<br />
  5. 5. Journalism’s context now<br />New problem: information overload<br />Journalism was decoupled from distribution: locating it is now harder<br />Every news outlet can be compared with anything<br />Online news is exploring story-telling <br />Audiences are changing shape, fragmenting<br />Content is king, but collaboration is queen<br />The web is going mobile<br />
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  7. 7. Basic issues<br />Digital ends the dominance of one-to-many publishing (but does not end newspapers)<br />Journalism’s audience may (or may not) be captivated, but it is no longer captive<br />The perceived value of mainstream journalism is in question<br />What value do journalists add?<br />How can that value be monetised?<br />
  8. 8. Back to first principles<br />If anyone can publish, what defines journalism? <br />What is journalism for? To establish the truth of what matters to a society<br />4 components of journalism that<br />Are best done by people with practised and accumulated skills<br />Can’t be done by algorithms<br />
  9. 9. The “core” of journalism<br />Verification<br />Sense-making<br />Eye-witness<br />Investigation<br />
  10. 10. Journalism:a SWOT analysis<br />
  11. 11. Strengths<br />Service to society/informed citizens<br />Relied upon, trusted<br />Independent<br />Established brands<br />News is not entertainment<br />Practised, professional skills<br />
  12. 12. Weaknesses<br />No longer dominates supply of information<br />Locked into newspaper “bundle”<br />Taken for granted<br />Reliance on written word<br />Print has high costs and is slow<br />Inflexibility of organisations<br />Small number of income streams<br />
  13. 13. Opportunities<br />Re-invention of journalism for new age<br />Greater reach<br />New ways of telling stories (or new ways of cooking eggplant)<br />Bringing more talent to bear<br />More journalists go back to school<br />
  14. 14. Threats<br />Won’t experiment or adapt fast enough<br />New competitors: if established media lose the plot, the blogosphere will take over<br />Content is neglected because of preoccupation with platforms<br />The idea of journalism gets lost<br />
  15. 15. How does journalism handle this?<br />Focus the value<br />Journalism won’t grow or innovate in print<br />Public service must be clear<br />Forget “disintermediation”. Think “re-intermediation”<br />Experiment – all the time. Throw spaghetti!<br />Dump market research; hire anthropologists.<br />Find the demand; supply it (feedback needed)<br />Paywalls?<br />
  16. 16. Managing change <br />Involve everyone (fast, slow, senior, junior)<br />Stress rebalancing between platforms<br />Focus on creative relationships<br />The importance of newsroom floor-planning is exaggerated<br />Try not to hire consultants<br />Set deadlines<br />
  17. 17. Danger! Don’t…<br />Hollow out editorial strength<br />Neglect the importance of words<br />Rely on broad-interest content “bundles”<br />Develop one, big expensive plan (develop lots)<br />Blame Google and Facebook for problems<br />Confuse platforms with content<br />Ever assume that change has finished<br />
  18. 18. Do…<br />Pay attention to younger voices<br />Understand the pattern of the user’s day<br />Expect consolidation<br />Join the argument about regulations (governments rarely “get” the web)<br />Go with the grain of the web<br />Links with everything<br />Promote individual items and authors<br />Sites are encyclopaedias as well<br />Geolocation<br />
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  21. 21. A case study<br />
  22. 22. Hard questions<br />Is the content original?<br />Is the package unbeatable?<br />Can a competitor replicate any of it?<br />Does it meet the users’ expectations?<br />Do you have verifiable, open data on that?<br />Can you make money from it?<br />Ask these question of The Daily next week<br />Are you ahead of the next curve?<br />
  23. 23. An iPad app is just the start<br />“The idea of having 15 different apps constantly on my iPad screen just to occasionally read a single issue of one (or redownloading a magazine app just to get the one issue that I want to read that year) is impractical and cumbersome.”<br />Alex Wilhelm, TNW, Jan 2011<br />
  24. 24. In case you’re still wondering…<br />…Journalism can – and will - meet the challenges of digital content.<br /> Thank you<br />
  25. 25. Blog: www.georgebrock.net<br />Twitter: @georgeprof<br />City University: www.city.ac.uk/journalism<br />This presentation will appear on slideshare.com<br />

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