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.
Mathew Ingram, senior writer of technology blog network GigaOM, talks about the changing media landscape and offers some simple advice. Ingram will be speaking about journalism at Digital Journal’s Future of Media event on April 6.
Mathew Ingram is an award-winning journalist who has spent the past 15 years writing about business, technology and new media as a reporter, columnist and blogger. He is currently a senior writer with the technology blog network GigaOM.
Prior to joining GigaOM, Ingram was a blogger and technology writer for the Globe and Mail newspaper, and was also the paper’s first online Communities Editor, where he helped the paper learn about and appreciate the benefits of social media tools.
In a Q&A with Digital Journal, Ingram offers some straight-up advice for media outlets and talks about the differences between working for a big media company and a small start-up.
This Q&A is part of a 5-day series with media leaders who will be speaking at Digital Journal’s Future of Media event which takes place April 6 at the Drake Hotel Underground in Toronto. Check back each day for a Q&A with other media leaders from the BBC, National Post and CTV. Part 1: An interview with OpenFile Editor Kathy Vey
Digital Journal: To make it as a journalist today, what core skills do you need? What core skills will you need in the years ahead?
Mathew Ingram: I think the skills you need are mostly the same as journalists have always needed — curiosity, intelligence, the ability to analyze things quickly, interviewing skills, a good BS detector, and so on.
But on top of that, I think the Web and social media require journalists to learn new skills as well, ones they aren’t always that good at, including how to listen to readers — even when you don’t want to — how to respond, how to share, how to link, aggregate and “curate” to use an overused word.
Digital Journal:You’ve worked for big media (The Globe & Mail), and for independent media/start-up (GigaOM). How have the experiences been different and what does one teach you that the other can’t?
Mathew Ingram: The two couldn’t really be more different, in pretty much every way — the Globe is a huge organization, and the main part of that is a newspaper, although I worked for the web side mostly. People routinely write one thing a day, or sometimes one or two things a week.
GigaOM and other Web-native publications are tiny startups with very few people, no print at all, and most of the writers are doing three or four or five posts a day.
So at the Globe I learned most of the traditional things that journalists learn — how to report and file in newspaper style, how to work with different editors, and so on.
At GigaOM and through my own blogging and social-media use, I’ve learned how to be fast and how to link and how to be part of a community.
Digital Journal: When it comes to changing media, what medium do you think is likely to change the most in the next year or two? Why?
Mathew Ingram: I think they are all changing, but print is in the hot seat more than anything, simply because the business models for many print publications are continuing to disintegrate, and there aren’t a whole lot of obvious solutions to that problem.
Digital Journal: What revenue channels beyond advertising do you think we’ll see become more prevalent in the digital media space?
Mathew Ingram: We’re probably going to see more newspapers and other publications and media outlets try pay walls and subscription models, and possibly new kinds of advertising relationships. What is out there right now just isn’t working. But I think pay walls, as they are currently configured, are a waste of time.
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?
Mathew Ingram: I think “digital first” means exactly what it says — the Web and mobile and other real-time options become the primary publishing vehicle, and print or whatever becomes secondary. The problem with doing that at most traditional newspapers is that they still rely on print for the bulk of their advertising revenue, and that still drives the bus — not just administratively but psychologically.
I definitely think more should approach it the way that John Paton at the Journal Register Co. has — digital first, and let the digital folks run things.
Digital Journal: How should media organizations collaborate or compete with start-ups in the media space?
Mathew Ingram: I think co-operation and partnerships are essential when you’re in a time of great upheaval the way we are right now in media because you don’t know what the best opportunities might be, or where they might lie, and you can’t afford to try everything.
Digital Journal: Beyond Facebook and Twitter, what start-up(s) do you think could become stand-outs in the world of media?
Mathew Ingram: I think the community model that Quora and some other sites are taking could become very interesting. They aren’t really media right now, but they are playing an interesting role. And so are WikiLeaks and all of the similar sites that have popped up — that could be and has been very disruptive already.
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?
Mathew Ingram: I don’t think it’s going to be that dramatic for most people — they are probably just going to notice, as many have already, that they are reading fewer newspapers and listening to the radio less and probably watching less TV as well. They are getting more and more of their news and other content from the Web and from social networks and other sites that pull content from everywhere and give it to them in the way they want it.
This Q&A is part of a 5-part series:
Mathew is currently a senior writer with the technology blog network GigaOM.
Prior to that, he was a blogger and technology writer for the Globe and Mail newspaper, and was also the paper’s first online Communities Editor, where he helped the paper learn about and appreciate the benefits of social media tools.
Mathew is also one of the founders of mesh, Canada’s leading web conference, and lives in Toronto with his wife, three daughters and two cats.
Mathew spoke at Future of Media on April 6, 2011 in Toronto. Watch video from the April 2011 Future of Media event. You can also follow Mathew on Twitter @mathewi