For those who missed the Future of Media event on April 6, 2011, the following clips have been made available. You can also read a written recap of Future of Media 2011 here.
The discussion topic centered on the relationship between start-ups and media companies; entrepreneurial journalism; gamification; paywalls; and the future of media. The panel was made up of the following individuals:
- Jamie Angus, Acting Head of News at BBC World News.
- Jon Taylor is Senior Director of Content for CTV Digital Media.
- Mathew Ingram, a senior writer with the technology blog network GigaOM.
- Chris Boutet is the senior producer for digital media at the National Post.
- Kathy Vey is Editor-in-Chief of OpenFile
The panel discussion was moderated by DigitalJournal.com Managing Editor, David Silverberg. The clips from Future of Media April 2011 event are in order below.
Each clip is rendered in low- and high-resolution versions depending on your bandwidth. You can view each clip in high-definition.:
Part 1: How optimistic should we be about media’s future?
Part 2: Digital-first strategies
Part 3: Journalists, Twitter & Facebook
Part 4: Mobile
Part 5: BBC’s coverage of the election using social media, user-generated content
Part 6: Revenue, paywalls
Part 7: Start-ups working in news
Part 8: ROI from tablets/mobile development
Part 9: Augmented reality
Part 10: Is the news media over-staffed for the global age?
Part 11: News sites VS. aggregators
The future for media organizations is not all doom and gloom, and there is more opportunity and experimentation happening today than ever before. That was the overall discussion at Digital Journal‘s Future of Media panel discussion last night in Toronto.
In a meaty conversation that sunk its teeth deep into topics of start-up culture, gamification and paywalls, editors and experts discussed why we should be optimistic for legacy media and start-ups experimenting with innovative news projects.
The insightful debate included a wide array of media experts: Jamie Angus, acting head of news at BBC World News; Jon Taylor, senior director of content for Bell Media Digital; Chris Boutet, senior producer for digital media at the National Post; Mathew Ingram, a senior writer at GigaOM; and Kathy Vey, editor-in-chief of OpenFile. The discussion was moderated by David Silverberg, managing editor of DigitalJournal.com.
The theme of the night could be summed up by Ingram’s poignant one-liner: “When you’re on Death Row, it’s easy to find religion.” He referred to the important wake-up call many newspapers faced with plummeting ad revenue and an upturned business model.
Boutet of the National Post agreed and said his outlet has adopted a digital-first strategy to allow readers to easily consume online news, while making sure the print product still had strong long-form content. “It needs to start with digital and end in print,” he said.
The conversation often veered into the benefits and dangers of using on-the-ground reporting from citizens in global hot spots. Angus said the BBC had previously ignored social media but now the organization is increasingly incorporating tweets into its reportage. “That could never happen two or three years ago,” he admitted.
Ingram replied, “When Twitter came out, I don’t think anyone would have predicted newspapers would have entire staff devoted to their Twitter account.”
Vey, who runs the collaborative news start-up OpenFile, said she’s optimistic about journalism’s future, considering how many important news start-ups have made an impact in the U.S. She just wishes Canada could better nurture start-ups and entrepreneurs.
The conversation around start-ups took up a better part of the night, with each panelist discussing how a news organization could benefit by having an entrepreneurial approach to media production. Panelists agreed the lean approach without expensive overhead and the willingness to try new things is an important part of determining media’s future.
That said, Boutet, Vey and Ingram agreed entrepreneurial skills are not something journalism students learn in school, and students don’t enter j-school with the goal of graduating, starting their own company and trying to compete with a big newspaper.
Boutet said newsrooms need to create an environment where experimentation is encouraged, and an entrepreneurial mindset helps. He noted how the National Post has designers, programmers, digital media producers and journalists within the same area to facilitate collaboration.
Ingram agreed, saying a news experiment today can happen in an afternoon with $1,500 and a programmer who fires out some code. But that often doesn’t happen because the small numbers and quick turn-around time are not how media executives typically think. “They think in terms of months, not days,” Ingram said.
Some mainstream media outlets are stepping up their online news initiatives and experiments. At the National Post, for instance, the newspaper partnered with GeoPollster to allow people to check-in to venues with Foursquare with their political party affiliation, so a certain restaurant can be Conservative if enough Conservatives check-in to that spot en masse. “We wanted it to be fun,” Boutet said, and many panelists agreed entertaining media projects and “gamification” could benefit news outlets.
Taylor, from the newly minted Bell Media, said the growth of mobile and tablet platforms have also dramatically shifted focus and opened up many new opportunities for media outlets, especially broadcasters. “My job has 100 per cent changed because of those platforms,” he said. “We’re learning with everybody else. It’s constantly evolving.” Taylor said he’s hopeful the rules of the TV game will evolve into a more futuristic model, where it’s not just watching TV on your tablet PC, say, but also being able to swipe something from your tablet onto your TV somehow.
He also spoke about new revenue possibilities for broadcasters, saying there’s “no magic bullet” but that old ideas are becoming new again. “I think the answer is going to be a multitude of things, which include digital sponsorship, we have sponsors we have advertisers,” he said. “In the TV world you can only get so innovative, in the digital space it’s nearly unlimited.”
Taylor said the “This show is brought to you by…” line is something we’ll likely hear more often, but that media organizations have to be careful how they balance sponsorship and production. He said sponsors need to be happy with the presence, but broadcasters have to make sure content is not overly swamped with advertising messages.
Angus agreed that mobile is an integral part of the future of media, noting that rapid adoption of mobile phones in some places such as Africa have replaced more traditional platforms such as radio. Angus said the BBC, and media organizations that reach massive audiences in very rural places, have new challenges because they must think about the medium or platform through which the message is being delivered. In some areas, media is consumed through more than just a newspaper or Internet connection. Angus said organizations who want to reach wide audiences now have to think about how much the end-user will have to pay to consume content via mobile versus other platforms when they decide where to invest and how they want to target new audiences.
On the topic of cost, the panel discussed paywalls and how they fit in the media’s future. The BBC’s Angus and Ingram were at odds on this issue. Angus suggested the paywall experiment by the Times of London and New York Times could be the harbinger of things to come. ”What if they’re right, doesn’t that change things?” he asked. Ingram shook his head and said “But the Times of London lost a lot of pageviews…and now they’re just an expensive newsletter.”
After some debate among panelists, Angus went back to the idea and admitted that while it may not be popular among readers it may be necessary for media outlets. He said if it becomes the norm, it may give media organizations enough of a revenue stream to encourage them to invest in the digital media space.
Boutet didn”t like the idea of a paywall because it’s an ultimatum that does not allow the reader to suggest how much they think content is worth. Telling a reader to pay $10 per month or go away, Boutet believes, is the wrong approach because it’s an all-or-nothing attitude. “What about a pay-what-you-can wall?” he suggested, saying some readers may not want to pay $10 per month but would be willing to pay $5. Having the option to let people price a product themselves provides a news organization with the opportunity to market-test various pricing options and determines what people will pay.
The panelists generally agreed a paywall or pay fence would work with specialty content, such as Wall Street Journal‘s financial news or ESPN.com‘s in-depth sports coverage. Ingram was unsure what metric would be used to measure success, though. “Does it look like 200,000 people paying to read your content, or does it look like millions?”
So what’s in store for the future of media? The panelists all seemed to agree experimentation is important and that the news industry as a whole is in better shape today than it has been over the last few years. That said, there are still a number of questions that need to be answered as far as concrete business models that will take shape.
New technologies such as augmented reality provide some really interesting opportunities to media companies, and mobile phones, apps and tablets are a game-changer for how, when and where people consume content.
The overall tone of the night was optimistic, with panelists agreeing wholeheartedly the future looks much brighter than the past. Media organizations now need to focus on experimentation, and partnering with start-ups is a cost-effective way to innovate new ideas.
The panel also agreed newsrooms need to shed old attitudes and get people to talk to their audience in a two-way conversation via social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter, while at the same time remember that every word they say is essentially speaking on behalf of their respective media outlets. What you say, when you say it, and how you say it, are guidelines that media organizations need to quickly decide.
The acting head of news at BBC World News explains how one of the most well-known journalism brands is adapting to the digital era. Jamie Angus will discuss his ideas in person at Digital Journal’s Future of Media event on April 6 in Toronto.
When you think of global news, BBC News is likely a company that comes to mind. Known for dispatching reporters in political hot zones, BBC has expanded its coverage in light of journalism’s changing face in the last few years.
Angus has also worked as editor of Daytime News Programmes at BBC World Service and was editor of The World at One, BBC Radio 4′s lunchtime news show. Prior to that, he was Editor of Daytime News Programmes at BBC World Service (English), where the output included the flagship Newshour programme, which is widely re-broadcast by partners in North America.
He has been responsible for news programming on TV, radio and online, and yes, he has time to sleep.
Angus spoke to Digital Journal prior to visiting Toronto this week for his appearance at the April 6 Future of Media event, where he’ll join other news leaders and executives to discuss the challenges media outlets face today and how best to adapt to the digital age.
Digital Journal: How has reporting world news changed in the growing world of digital media? Where is it heading?
Jamie Angus: I think the linear style of news that audiences were used to a generation ago has been changed forever by digital media.
If you look at a developing story like the Arab Uprising from this year, you see clearly that public discussion of the story and the issues surrounding it, in social media and elsewhere, is part of the story itself. It poses a challenge to traditional media organizations to sort the important information from the unenlightening ― probably the same values journalists have practiced for many generations. But we have to maintain a balance between real events on the ground, and digital activity surrounding them.
A media organization that is truly in touch with its audiences allows them the space to discuss current events in a way that plays into the content of their own coverage ― and we can see from the Arab Spring that media organizations who really own this idea benefit enormously.
Digital Journal: We’ve seen significant changes in digital media and news production for the Web. What does the future of media look like in the digital/online space? Where are current changes going to take us?
Jamie Angus: I’ve been really struck by the success of “live page” coverage of news. There is a real appetite amongst audiences to see stories unfolding in real time, in text audio and pictures, and to have the chance to interact with that.
The technology to drive these, and social media’s ability to allow audiences to discuss events in real time, is still in its infancy.
Digital Journal: How do rapid changes in media affect a public broadcaster?
Jamie Angus: The values that public broadcasters generally embody ― reputation, balance, editorial integrity ― also make them vulnerable to fast-moving technological change. They tend to act slowly, and their innate caution means there are always newer operations who can make more noise on any given platform.
I also worry about the decisions to commit public money to supporting specific platforms and how those are taken. Some social media would envy the support given by the BBC to more established social media.
Digital Journal: What medium do you think is likely to change the most in the next year or two?
Jamie Angus: I’m fascinated by the changes that IP TV, streaming video, and on-demand, direct-to-home TV sets will make to all output, especially news. I don’t begin to understand the details of this, but I wonder whether a huge change in distribution is around the corner. That could have a huge effect on the industry.
At home in the UK, we’ve seen how the cost of maintaining “old” distribution has been a huge problem for World Service Radio in the last decade, and I wonder how that will play out for TV.
Digital Journal: How can mainstream journalists reach out to the start-up world to make their jobs easier and to make their reporting better?
Jamie Angus: I think public broadcasters gravitate quickly to established technologies and media. I don’t see a lot of journalists experimenting beyond those.
I wonder what the implications are for news-gathering, with the explosive growth in location-based social media. Or tools like AudioBoo, for example.
So far, I don’t think we’ve scratched the surface of that.
Digital Journal: What start-ups do you think are making a big difference or impact in the world of media? How so?
Jamie Angus: As previously mentioned, I’m a big user of AudioBoo, and I would like to see more people using it in news. It offers a real way of expanding radio production, for example.
I would anticipate more use of social media and mapping technology in combination, and I think they are well placed to exploit that.
Digital Journal: What do you think makes a good “digital-first” strategy for a media company, and should modern media businesses approach with a digital-first mindset?
Jamie Angus: It depends what your market is, and on the media side what your distribution model is.
The big question is whether digital-led ways of consuming media will really be retained for life, or whether as people age and their lives change, they become more receptive to traditional ways of consuming the news.
There’s evidence on both sides, but I think the great variety of user experience that digital offers is changing how journalism is delivered for good, and it will always be necessary to have a digital dimension to launching new products.
Digital Journal: How will rapid and significant changes in digital media over the last few years affect the average person at home in the years to come?
Jamie Angus: Platform convergence seems like the big issue to me. It looks more and more as if the number of devices you use will fall and fall, probably to around a handful in any household.
As radio, TV, and online come ever closer together, the key driver of audiences will be strong content. If you have it, audiences will find you, but less and less in the traditional way.
I also think that households with children and young adults in them are driving digital uptake incredibly quickly. I am struck by how much parents talk about their childrens’ ways of consuming news and entertainment, and that feels like a tipping point to me. It’s a world in which the younger generation are driving what older generations do more than ever before.
Just look at what’s happened to newspapers; if you wanted to pop out and buy a paper today, your choice would be considerably less than it once was, probably because of what people younger than you are doing. Yet free sheet consumption is massive, and at the same time it’s moving young people back to a model of actually reading real papers. How is that all going to play out? And how can media companies figure it out before anyone else does?
This Q&A is part of a 5-part series:
Jamie Angus is Acting Head of News at BBC World News, running the Newsroom for the channel day-to-day.
Previously, Jamie was a Commissioner for the BBC’s Global News Division, looking after output across TV, Radio and Online. He has also been Editor of The World at One, BBC Radio 4′s lunchtime news programme, during the period including the 2010 General Election in the UK.
Prior to that, he was Editor of Daytime News Programmes at BBC World Service (English), where the output included the flagship Newshour programme, which is widely re-broadcast by partners in North America.
Jamie spoke at Future of Media on April 6, 2011 in Toronto. Watch video from the April 2011 Future of Media event.