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.
Media leaders from the UK and Canada will meet tonight to discuss rapid and significant changes in media at Digital Journal’s Future of Media event in Toronto. Bell Media Digital’s Jon Taylor will weigh-in on intersection of broadcasting and digital media.
Jon Taylor is Senior Director of Content for Bell Media Digital. He is responsible for the acquisition, creation and measurement of Bell Media Digital’s online content.
Jon most recently worked as an Executive Producer in the Programming and Production departments at CTV and continues to work closely with those groups.
His work creating web-exclusive complementary content for Bell Media’s digital platforms includes So You Think You Can Dance Canada, The Juno Awards, We Day and The Scotiabank Giller Prize.
Tonight, Jon takes the stage at Digital Journal’s Future of Media event along with the speakers from the National Post, BBC World News, GigaOM and OpenFile. In a Q&A with Digital Journal ahead of the event, Taylor touches on what’s in store for broadcasters and where digital media fits in the TV business.
Digital Journal: As someone who manages the content side of a media business, how has your job changed over the last year and where is it going?
Jon Taylor: As the business model evolves, the focus has turned to user engagement and user experience and how people consume content online and on mobile platforms.
There is much more focus on companion content and unique online executions. Bell Media has had some good success with unique online programming like WE DAY, largest youth empowerment event, and programming several original series last summer. We’re going to see more of this in the future.
In a way, everything has changed because the delivery method changes quickly, but nothing has changed insofar as content is still king, regardless of platform.
As for where it’s going, I’ve noticed a definite shift in business function within a large organization. Whereas new media was often a peripheral business unit, there is a more definite seat at the table for everything from programming and production to sales and marketing.
Digital Journal: Where is programming heading? Outside of news, what kind of content should a modern media business focus on/produce/deliver?
Jon Taylor: Strategy is challenging since it needs to be two-fold.
First, it needs to make money, and second it needs to be somehow innovative. There is no right answer for this one. Nobody has the brass ring for content production and delivery.
Innovation is expensive and can be risky. However, what we are focusing on is strong content, year-long strategy and, currently, integrating and exploiting the strength of Sympatico and the Bell Media (former CTV) properties.
Digital Journal: We’ve seen significant changes in journalism with the rise of digital media and the Web. How is television being affected by these changes? Where is it heading?
Jon Taylor: The revolution might not be televised, but you can bet it will be online.
By aggregating or curating first-hand accounts from social media, blogs and other sources that have access to a wealth of bleeding edge information, news becomes part of the revolution.
More leaders are going to emerge in this space, and I think Canada is poised to be a leader in how digital is leveraged for journalism. Our proven objectivity — not quite British, not quite American — puts us in a unique position.
Digital Journal: What affect have start-ups had on media businesses? How do they play a role in media’s future?
Jon Taylor: From an online video standpoint, Netflix and other over-the-top services are going to be an obvious concern. But in general, the proliferation of services and add-ons is endless.
We’ll continue to see the rising-up of the most-needed or wanted services. How they’ll continue to change media will be part of the greater evolution of how we all do business.
In this case, I’m not sure that being a fast adopter of these kinds of services really benefits the business. For example, is the company that first integrated Facebook into their site right now better off than those companies who went down that road a little later?
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?
Jon Taylor: The right strategy is to make sure that the right platform or platforms are taking the lead. I keep going back to it, but there is not a one-size-fits-all strategy in the digital or multi-platform world.
Digital should be first when it makes the most sense, and when compared to the still-formidable power of broadcast television, isn’t going to be the case 100 percent of the time.
More and more, we’re seeing the prominence of digital as it stands on its own or as a companion piece to television and radio.
The modern media approach should be to marry the right content with the right platform and match it to an audience.
Digital Journal: What revenue channels beyond advertising do you think we’ll see become more prevalent in the digital media space?
Jon Taylor: Subscription models will be more dominant, but I don’t believe we’ve see the end of what advertising online is or does. There is still a huge frontier of advertising opportunities in the digital space and there will be more creative integrations with content.
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?
For sure people who haven’t already will come to expect all media to be available on all platforms. The idea of having what you want when you want will be a given.
It’s easy for us, as fast adopters, to think that we’re there now, or that the omnipresent expectation already exists, but we’re only at the tip of the iceberg.
My kids, who are four- and six-years old, have no idea what linear TV is. They only know on-demand and they rarely see an advertisement. How advertisers reach viewers is what is really going to change and evolve. Content will inevitably be where you want to be in the future.
This Q&A is part of a 5-part series:
Jon most recently worked as an Executive Producer in the Programming and Production departments at CTV and continues to work closely with those groups.
His work creating web-exclusive complementary content for CTV’s digital platforms includes So You Think You Can Dance Canada, The Juno Awards, We Day and The Scotiabank Giller Prize.
Jon spoke at Future of Media on April 6, 2011 in Toronto. Watch video from the April 2011 Future of Media event.