WAN-IFRA 9th International Newsroom Summit, 8-9 September 2010, Hilton London Canary Wharf, London; 200 participants from 35 countries –
8 September – Day 1
Building the next-generation newsroom
Raju Narisetti, Managing Editor, The Washington Post, USA
In his keynote presentation, Narisetti discussed why and how The Washington Post recently brought together and reorganised its print and digital operations, which had previously been located on opposite sides of a river.
He said building the next-generation newsroom is not really a question of survival, but more of adapting to change. He quoted Jim Collins’s “How the Mighty Fall,” saying, “Whether you prevail or fail, endure or die, depends more on what you do to yourself than on what the world does to you.”
While the past two years have been very difficult for The Washington Post, with operating losses of US$ 163.5 million in 2009 and US$ 192.7 million in 2008, Narisetti said the company did not panic, and instead sought to capitalise on its strengths. The management concluded that The Post’s key strength is that it is an indispensable guide to Washington, D.C., and that “all the decisions we take will be through this prism.”
The major issue to tackle was this: How does The Post ensure the enterprise and its mission will endure for generations when its core product is in structural decline and digital product produces far less money and is growing relatively slowly, revenue-wise? For The Post, the roadmap to economic success aimed to:
- Make as much money as possible from print over the long term.
- Make as much money as possible from digital over the long term.
- Create new revenue streams.
- Reduce costs. Become smaller, but more focused to make the enterprise stronger.
With those goals in mind, in December 2009 The Post moved its digital operations to its downtown Washington headquarters, where the print newspaper was already based, but into a completely new newsroom with a universal news desk at its centre.
“We took the main editing operation and put it right in the middle of the newsroom and created a bunch of hubs and spokes,” Narisetti said. “Having an open operation drives a lot of conversations… We have also separated the content creators from the content packagers, and this has made a huge difference in the newsroom.” There were also some staff reductions. Total staff, which had been about 750 (100 of which were in the digital division), is now down to 580.
While noting that it is still early, Narisetti said the results so far are encouraging:
- According to comScore, washingtonpost.com reaches between 16 and 17 million U.S. adults each month.
- Unique visitors per month in the first seven months of 2010 were up 17 percent over the equvalent period in 2009.
- Monthly page views in the first seven months of 2010 were up 8 percent.
- Video views in the first seven months of 2010 were up 68 percent.
- Referrals from search engines rose by 27 percent.
In addition, mobile page views are seeing 92 percent year-on-year growth and have grown 310 percent since February 2008.
Newsroom of the Blick Group: Four titles, one brand
Marc Walder, CEO, Ringier Switzerland and Germany
In November 2007, the Swiss multimedia publishing company Ringier embarked on a editorial transformation of its three major titles and website – Blick, Blick am Abend, SonntagsBlick, and Blick.ch., integrating those separate newsrooms into a single newsroom. The project kick-off was in December 2008, and the newsroom started operations 15 months later, on 7 March 2010.
“I will never forget the day that I told our 300 journalists that we were going to bring them together,” said Marc Walder during the first session dedicated to boosting synergies in multi-title newsrooms. “I am quite certain they hated me at that moment. But almost three years later after implementing this change, I can say today that 95 percent of those don’t hate me, or at least I hope not.
“You might ask why is the CEO of the company making this presentation today instead of our editor-in-chief,” Walder continued. “That’s easy: This was my idea. I knew that this project had to be top-down, and it was my task to make it work, not just the editor-in-chief's.” In fact, Walder has a seat on the company’s universal desk that serves as the heart of its new newsroom, also nicknamed “The Bridge,” because it was constructed to connect the two separate buildings. The four editors-in-chief join him at this semi-round “work bar.”
In the first stage of rolling out change, Walder said Ringier, like other Swiss publishers, was late to the integration and digital game, “but we had the luxury of learning from the industry, cherry-picking from best-practice companies.” Analysing their disparate complex workflows came next and Walder said WAN-IFRA and Newsplex played a vital role in this regard. The same goes for the third stage of change management. The challenges of integrating staff and different titles proved predictable: Resistance to change, fear of change.
The fourth stage rang in implementation, the start and practice of new production workflows as well as use of new technology and convergent, interactive possibilities. “We are currently still in the fifth and final stage, the review,” he said. “We are continually correcting, adapting and optimising. Like someone told me, such a project is always in ‘beta’. You are never really finished.”
He admits that his journalists in general are working more hours, doing more tasks and that he is looking at how to minimise this workload. But to connect with today’s audience who want content on various channels, he said journalists need to know how tell their stories on those channels.
As a result of the change, Walder sees these positives:
- more diverse stories and content;
- better coordination of stories among all publications;
- more specialist skills for all publications;
- greater effectiveness in reporting on big events;
- strengthening of digital channels;
- quicker decision-making;
- more interaction with readers and users; and
- reduction of costs by approximately 15 percent.
One newsroom, multiple titles
Adrian Jeakings, Chief Executive, Archant Ltd., U.K.
In the second presentation of the session on “Boosting synergies in a multi-title newsroom,” Adrian Jeakings described how his publishing house has integrated its titles during the past few years. UK-based Archant is a community media business with 70+ newspapers, 80+ magazines and numerous websites and mobile channels. The 150-year-old company employees 1,800 people and is privately owned by 2,000 shareholders.
Jeakings said the newsroom transformation journey began in 2007 with an initial objective of growing the online audience and culminated in an editorial revolution three and a half years later. “Now, what we’re doing is overhauling everything we do in editorial,” he said. “Everything revolves around the story.”
Archant’s corporate goals for the editorial transformation project included: moving from print-centric to multi-media; being the first choice for local news, sports, events & entertainment; growing local audience & broaden reach; and to deepen engagement with the local audience.
There were two main elements of the change process. One was editorial cultural change, which “is by far the most important,” Jeakings said. Some of the objectives here were to: get things right the first time; publish to web first; 24/7 newsrooms; use of reader content; and increase content sharing. The second element of the process was the editorial system change. “On the system-side it was all about usability,” Jeakings said. The goal was to have a single system with a single interface that would also allow for multi-media and instant web publishing. “Only at the end of the process did we introduce the new system,” Jeakings said.
The process started at Archant’s Herts & Cambs - Welwyn, which was the pilot for the company-wide project. The weekly has a small, remote newsroom and produces two editions. The results have included an empowered editorial team, which has increased its innovation as well as a massive increase in the web audience.
Archant’s biggest newsroom is in Norwich and is shared by the Eastern Daily Press (a county newspaper) and Norwich Evening News (a city newspaper). These two titles share a newsroom and stories, but often have different views on those stories (i.e. a story that might be good news for city residents, might not be good for residents of the county).
Today, Jeakings said the results for Archant have been that the system objectives are more or less achieved. The cultural change has made a huge difference and revitalised the editorial teams. There has also been a rapid growth in online audience. In addition, there is more – and better – content being created for less cost, he said.
Jeakings concluded by listing some of the key lessons that were learned during the process:
-Senior management commitment is essential.
-Journalists need to be involved in the process from the start.
-Project management is absolutely key.
-Software delays are almost inevitable.
-There is no such thing as enough training. “We are still training, and we will continue to train,” he said.
-There is no room for compromise.
-A new system not required for change. “You can do most of what we have done without a new system,” he added.
Two titles, two cultures, one goal: produce great content
Reetta Meriläainen, Editor-in-Chief of Sanoma News Ltd., Helsingin Sanomat, Finland
As the interactive, social networking and eReading worlds converge, quality journalism cannot be compromised, said Meriläainen during a session dedicated to “Outside the Box.”
“Anybody here using more than 10 percent of your R&D on journalism? How often are you training your journalists? How can you expect to turn out quality journalism if you don’t train your journalists? We should really learn how to produce content and enhance our story-telling abilities. The technology, sure, but the art of producing quality content in today’s environment must be addressed by all publishers. If we neglect our responsibility of quality and specialists, we will lose ground.”
Helsingin Sanomat and its sister publication, Ilta Sanomat, certainly have not lost much ground in Finland as they are the two largest newspapers in the country, as are their news sites. Having the strong brand of Sanoma as their publisher doesn’t hurt, either. Sanoma operates in diverse fields of media in more than 20 countries, with net sales of 2.76 billion euros and 16,723 employees.
While their core content is indeed news, the two titles differ in many respects, especially in how they publish, produce and distribute their news. Meriläainen shared the nuances of the two publishers’ newsroom strategies as they start to cooperate more intensively. They both have integrated newsrooms, with minor differences in their online desk structures. Helsingin Sanomat features a central “Hyperdesk,” that the journalists refer to as the “Wrestling Mat,” whereas Ilta Sanomat has a “Superdesk.” Meriläainen said Helsingin Sanomat tends to be more cautious than its counterpart, and therefore slower to change and publish.
“Ilta is more daring than we are,” she said. “When we are considering to publish something, Ilta has already done it. We are more of a chronicler. Ilta goes for hot topics, more human interest… they have an art of story-telling that we actually are a bit envious of. We are so quality conscious, and perhaps that is why we are slow. We are very Scandinavian in our layout, whereas Ilta is more adventurous.” Despite these differences, the two papers are starting to collaborate, albeit at a slow pace. As for the eReading era, they are both versed in the technologies and working diligently to launch new products.
No matter the platform, she said story-telling for both papers, and the industry in general, “has to be compelling and different today, both in print and online. And we have to get to know our readers more. For example, we found out that most of our middle class readers don’t even have a central dinner table, but they have a big TV and sofa where they gather. We have to find a way to 'get into our readers’ homes' if you will.”
Preserving values – a twin challenge
Edward Roussel, Digital Editor for the Telegraph Media Group, U.K.
During the “Outside the box – innovative publishing” session, Edward Roussel discussed how publishing houses currently face a major twin challenge: How do you preserve today’s value and also come up with new ways of offering value tomorrow?
Roussel defined the key differences between current media and future media this way: Current media is about “one-size-fits-all,” (as opposed to “fragmented” for future media) and “an all you can eat” experience (vs. an “efficient” one for future media); as well as offering a “one-way conversation” (vs. “a social experience”). Furthermore, whereas current media is largely about text, future media will belong to multi-media. And, while the newspaper is the dominant current form of media, future media will be about “multi-platform.” In planning the future, we need to take all these elements into consideration, Roussel said.
He also pointed out that there are really only three commercial possibilities for newspapers:
1) Display ads
3) Subscriptions or paywalls
In addition, Roussel noted that “we’re in the era of entrepreneurial journalists,” and products or services are developed from the bottom up. This is very different from the past, when the development of new products or services were top-down in nature; the publisher or managing editor came up with an idea for a new publication or supplement, which was then produced and distributed. The new bottom-up model contains the following key building blocks: consumer, content, community, commerce, curation. “These five Cs are interconnected links of a chain,” Roussel said. A key question is how do you combine these five Cs? A lot of times people think about one but not all of them, he said.
Examples of focusing on the consumer can be found in Andrew Ross Sorkin’s Dealbook, Mike Allen’s Playbook, and Ezra Klein’s Wonkbook. These are bottom-up developments – the publishers know their audiences so well, they come up with new services based on them. Further examples of the various “Cs” include:
Content: Politico, Bloomberg
Community: Huffington Post
Commerce: Telegraph fashion, fantasy football (Roussel said Telegraph has a paywall with this game because people must pay 6 pounds a year to play), net-a-porter
Curation: Huffington Post, Washington Post: Top Secret America; New York Times: web, mobile, iPad.
A third layer is how you present that material, which leads to a different kind of hub-and-spoke system. In this case, the hub defines your brand, is centrally managed and is for a broad audience, Roussel said. Characteristics of spokes include narrow audiences; decentralisation; and entrepreneurs with their own P&Ls. Ultimately, the media company should be an umbrella brand for multiple business units. It’s about preserving what’s good about what you do, Roussel said. It’s all about value, quality and trust.
Nutritious fast food
George Brock, Professor and Head of Journalism, City University, London, U.K.
In the face of an upcoming “info-explosion” on smartphones, long-held journalistic standards of distilling information, excellence in editing and words, and trust associated with “old media” will remain critically important. “Content will count,” said George Brock during a session dedicated to “’Finger food’ content – publishing on smartphones." In the context of smartphone publishing, there are two important issues that newspaper publishers need to be aware of: one, the fact that mobile is no longer bite-sized (in terms of screen size and quantity of words), and two, perhaps the larger issue, Brock said: the incredible speed of the news cycle.
According to a recent Morgan Stanley study, the use of smartphones will surpass notebooks and PCs in 2012. Mobile adoption rate is eight times that of broadband, and in places all over the world where broadband and mobile wireless will be more prevalent in the coming years, particularly in countries like India, this will usher in significant social change. With 26 new devices launched this year and smartphones morphing into tablets and e-readers, it’s easy to see how much content and information will literally be in the hands of consumers.
Brock said he is encouraged to see that many publishers are dealing with what may be perceived as the dangers of this “finger food,” even “enriching” it with “re-intermediation of content.” The big challenge for news publishers is to quickly figure out where they want to position themselves in this realm. “If you haven’t started really thinking about this, you will quickly realise the problems that will arise when you start your projects.”
Even though content reigns over hardware, the hardware will influence the content. The key will be the clever presentation of that content. And in the digital and linking world, that means great editing leading to deeper text and different types of content. “The function of editing does not disappear because everyone has access to information,” Brock said. He said journalism’s core tasks will continue: verification, sense-making, witness (this could be a citizen journalist, but also a very trained professional journalist), and investigation. “Can we just please bear in mind, words is where we begin. If you don’t defend your use of words and turn your site into a mere broadcast station, don’t be surprised when your audience moves on because they were looking for quality information, words.”
Consistency counts on plethora of devices
Grig Davidovitz, Consultant and Project Leader, GD Consulting, Israel
Davidovitz explained the need for news publishers to create a consistent experience for users across all of the devices and platforms on which they are distributing news and information. Davidovitz said the digital age has spawned a variety of devices for accessing news throughout the day as consumers spend time consuming media at home in the morning and evening, at the office during the day and while they are commuting to and from work. He said this is both good and bad for publishers.
“The good news is that the reader can have access to your information throughout the day,” he said. “The bad news is that in every junction the competition is just one click away, and you are not competing just with other newspages but with everything (e-mail, Facebook, e-commerce).”
Davidovitz said there are basically two questions for publishers:
1. How to make your customers spend more time on your newspages, and
get more of their news from your newspages (and not Twitter or Facebook)?
2. How to best spread out your material outside the newspage so people
will easily reach it on other places online? (He added he would only be addressing the first question in his presentation.)
He then cited Forrester’s 3 Cs to be taken into account when formulating a multi-channel strategy for your organisation. These three Cs are:
-Choice: Channel selection according to customer preferences and customer situation (on the go, at home, in the office, etc.)
-Consistency: Same type and level of service across channels (language, look and feel, etc.)
-Continuity: Seamless experience between channels – starting on one, continuing from the same point on a different one.
“We should move from an integrated newsroom to integrated platforms – meaning to publish information in a consistent information architecture,” he said. How to do that? Davidovitz suggested “moving the template to the article level: Every article in the news stream gets a template that is suited to its needs. The final template is the total combination of the article templates one after another… Every template should have a version for each device,” he said. “Once you create the first stream (web), it is automatically generated in all the other devices.”
Another major advantage of having flexible templates is that it can create a news show instead of just presenting links, Davidovitz said. That lets publishers highlight the best element of a story as well as create the right amount of drama. The stream can be reproduced on every device, while keeping the same information architecture. The presentation doesn’t have to be exactly the same, but it should be a consistent experience for the reader. “It’s not just about the information – it’s also about creating a mood,” Davidovitz said.
The role of geocodes and other metadata for news on mobile devices
Gerd Kamp, head of dpa-newslab, dpa-infocom, Germany
As newspapers prepare to roll out more mobile and tablet applications, they should consider the benefits that clean metadata can add to their content. “You should not just produce a short blob of content and throw away the rest of that valuable content,” said Kamp. “The manual process of metadata as most of us know it can be daunting and time-consuming, but with today’s modern content management systems and other applications, there are a lot of opportunities for publishers to maximise their content and do innovative things with it.”
With geocoding, publishers can start to visualise how and where their stories are being consumed, especially in the mobile sector. Kamp has worked on numerous projects in the past years to realise some of these possibilities, such as adding geodata, with addresses and coordinates into all newswire stories. For local and regional publishers, geocoding can be especially attractive. “The more local a story is, or a publisher wants it to be, it is much easier to use geo-coding to annotate that distribution,” said Kamp.
Kamp encourages publishers to also look at its print products in this light, not just online. But with any metadata, it all starts with it being crystal clean to yield the type of good content for such enterprising projects.
Some basic considerations with iPads when working with algorithmic layouts: portrait and landscape dimensions; screen sizes and resolutions; font sizes; aspect ratios; and DPI.
The metered approach for The New York Times
Arthur Sulzberger Jr., Chairman and Publisher, The New York Times, U.S.A.
In the keynote presentation of the paid-content session, Sulzberger explained his company’s announced move to a metered model across its Internet sites, which is set to begin in early 2011. Sulzberger said that while many details are still being worked out, The New York Times’s plan is that people will be able to freely access a set number of articles each month until they hit a limit, at which point they will be asked to pay. This approach will allow casual users to continue accessing the site, but will require heavy users to pay, he said. “We want to ensure that nytimes.com continues to be part of the open web ecosystem,” Sulzberger said.
He added that Twitter and Facebook are a boon to The New York Times because they lead so many people to the content at nytimes.com. However, high quality content costs a great deal to produce and cannot be endlessly given away for free. “The era of free, professionally crafted content is coming to an end,” he said. He stressed there is no set answer to the pay-for model for anyone, but that it is essential “to be engaged in an ongoing process of testing and learning.”
“We know that our audiences are coming to us in vastly different ways,” Sulzberger said. For example, he cited a Morgan Stanley study that predicts within five years the number of users accessing the web from mobile will exceed the number who access it from PCs. While stating that he believes “there is no one right answer,” about how to charge for content, Sulzberger said news publishers should be in agreement on the following three things:
1) quality news and information are more essential than ever in these turbulent times;
2) with Internet, broadband and mobile devices, more people have access to world-class journalism than ever before, and that is a very good thing;
3) democracy depends in large part on journalists getting their information right.
So, how do we go head-to-head with friends, enemies and frenemies? he asked. “Our pursuit of the pay model is a step in the right direction for us.” He added that “we have come to understand the zen paradox that your perceived competitors are not your real competitors.”
“We are not in the news business, we are in the making-content-relevant business,” he said. As part of this, Sulzberger noted the necessity of story-telling in an interactive world in order to create an essential human connection. He said The New York Times is looking for ways to create an essential emotional bond with readers that will lead to real engagement, and he noted that this level of customer commitment is also highly valued by advertisers.
The U.K. regional press fighting back
Francois Nel, director of Journalism Leaders Programme, School of Journalism, University of Central Lancashire, U.K.
Although the U.K. regional press has been hurting and forecasts are grim, “the fight-back” has begun in earnest as publishers turn their attention to alternative revenue streams, particularly online. That was the message from Nel, who has conducted a number of research projects in the past year looking into the regional press and online revenue streams.
One of the reports is the World Newspaper Future & Change Study, in which he collaborated with the Norwegian Management School and WAN-IFRA’s Shaping the Future of the Newspaper project. The other study is “Where Else is the Money?” project, which has been conducted in the U.K. each summer since 2008.
“Perhaps it’s not surprising that, in the last decades, the news industry relied on replicating the traditional print revenue models online, but the perhaps spurred on by the financial crisis, the U.K. regional press are starting to move towards to what I like to think of the news media’s Web Business Model 2.0, which offers the opportunity to move on from just offering advertising and selling content to providing solutions up and down the value chain to all customers – not only those ‘formerly known as the audience,’ but those formerly known as ‘the advertisers’ and ‘the sources.’ ”
A recently released report by the OECD into regional newspaper publishing in the U.K. shows circulations have declined 22 percent over the last three years. About 100 local and regional titles have closed in the past 18 months, or 8 percent of that market. But the U.K. regional press has worked hard to stem the tide. How? A closer look at the Newspaper Society’s annual reports from 2004-2009 shows they are consolidating. They are also reigning in expenses (including staff costs), boosting productivity and diversifying their businesses. Surprisingly, despite the fact that employee numbers are down about 30 percent, the total number of businesses owned are up more than 40 percent. Income has remained somewhat stable during that time, dropping only 2 percent.
The way forward is through investment in new product development for new revenues. Many of these products will be digital, Nel said. The starting point for Nel’s own research was a study by Michael Rappy, who identified 105 online income streams, which he grouped into nine revenue models: advertising, subscription, brokerage, merchant, manufacturing, affiliate, community, infomediary and utility.
He took a closer look at how the regional press are doing in the various digital advertising models, for example. In some of the traditional areas of display and classified advertising, they are doing what they can, while in others, such as video and community, they are lagging. As for paywalls, Nel said, “I strongly believe that the paywall refrain has limited the debate and I prefer to look at the issue in terms of reciprocity. … Publishers – and their customers – would do well to consider what each are bringing to the relationship: time, attention, information and activities and cash. And what value they’re receiving in return.”
The new economics of content
Peter Bale, Executive Producer, Microsoft, U.K.
In the final presentation of the first day, Bale discussed the new economics of content. Noting that making money on the web is all about experimenting at this stage, he pointed to three areas of importance for publishers to focus on:
-Story telling – advertising and editorial
-Innovation – technical and creative
-Audience – who we’re doing this for
Bale said Larry Kramer, the founder of MarketWatch, told him years ago that if he kept two people in mind in everything he did on the website, he would be successful: readers and advertisers. “They can both be satisfied,” Bale said.
He then quoted journalism lecturer Paul Bradshaw: “The biggest problem for newspapers is not falling readerships, it is falling advertising revenue … For all the talk of how journalists can get a grip on new media, there’s been far too little on how ad sales people can do the same.”
“In the current debate about paying for content, charging for content, cutting search engine access and state funding of newspapers, I think inadequate attention has been paid to the role of advertising,” Bale said. “What about great story-telling in advertising?” he asked. He also quoted McClatchy Chairman and CEO Gary Pruitt: “We don’t need to be the strongest to survive, we just need to be able to adapt, and that’s something we’ve proven we can do.”
Bale then showed an example of an interesting editorial experience that MSN made with a video from the Geneva Motor Show that gives the viewer a you-are-at-the-show feeling from “Deep Zoom” capabilities in Microsoft’s Siliverlight technology. Bale’s next example was from Times Luxx, an online publication from The Times, which Bale noted brought the luxury look and feel of a glossy publication online while adding web elements such as hyperlinks and moving images. He also showed an example of how paper can remain innovative with a couple of pages from a magazine that when opened, expanded out into a tissue box. “Paper still works,” he said. In closing Bale encouraged participants to “go back to basics. There’s a reason why soap operas are called soap operas,” he said.
9 September – Day 2
Thank God we have readers! Incredible stories that would not be told without readers of Gazeta Wyborcza in print and online
Grzegorz Piechota, Vice President, INMA Europe, and Special Projects Editor, Agora, Poland
In the opening presentation of the conference’s second day, Piechota offered two examples of major news stories in Poland in the past year and the role that user-generated content played in each. On Saturday, 10 April 2010, Piechota was playing with his 1-year-old son at home when he got a text message from a colleague that said only: “turn on your television.” He turned it on to see that the president of Poland, Lech Kaczynski, his wife, and 94 others had been killed in a plane crash in Katyn, Russia.
He headed to work at Gazeta Wyborcza where five teams were developing to meet five deadlines. The first team was responsible for online coverage and working on live news. They also redesigned the website to give the story the prominence it deserved. On Saturday afternoon, a 12-page Extra edition was published that had been produced in only five hours. A second Extra edition was published the next morning, a Sunday. This was especially significant because in Poland there are no Sunday newspapers and all shops are closed, so distribution was done entirely by hand. More publications, including a Book of the Dead were published in the next few days.
While social networks were useful in helping to spread the news, there was no added value from user-generated content (UGC), Piechota said. In the early stages, the content was largely kitsch and later, it was frequently a source of rumours and conspiracy theories. So, for this story, UGC was not so important. However, between the time of the plane crash and the elections for a new Polish president, Poland was hit by major flooding that effected 15 out of 16 regions of the country, and in this case UGC ended up making huge contributions to the news coverage and a 29-year-old blogger named Pawel managed to compete head-to-head with the major Polish media.
In five days, Pawel’s blog had 499,000 visits, 2.5 million page views, 300 contributors and 3000 new items, including 4 GB of multimedia uploaded all of which generated some 8,5000 comments. How did this lone blogger manage to compete with big media companies? Piechota asked and then offered some answers.
In the early stages of the flooding there was a huge hunger for local news, but very poor official information. It also turned out that Pawel was not starting from scratch. He’d been blogging for five years and had 2,600 friends on Facebook, so he already had a lot of reach. He was also just posting everything he got, not editing or managing the content in any way. Ultimately though, commitment is crucial, Piechota said, and added that similar blogs did not succeed. Pawel was thoroughly committed and working around the clock to get items posted.
Piechota said that Pawel’s success was also not bad for Gazeta Wyborcza. The company’s website hosts 176,000 individual blogs, and Pawel’s is one of them, so his traffic was also theirs.
Educating young readers about Internet risks and rewards, also for publishers
Dr. Aralynn Abare McMane, Executive Director, Young Readership Development, WAN-IFRA, France; and
Roxana Morduchowicz, Director of Media Education for the Ministry of Education, Argentina
To attract young readers to publishers’ products, newspapers need to be present on all new platforms on the market, including social networking, mobiles, etc., and be there quickly, said McMane. “More importantly,” she said, “we have found that you have to be there for those ‘life-stage’ firsts – using a mobile phone, going onto the Internet. You have an opportunity to play a part here.” WAN-IFRA offers a number of free resources for newspapers to help attract the youth audience and especially link to the influencers of children: parents and teachers. Publishers should consider engaging schools and teachers as ambassadors for newspapers.
The statistics of how youths use the Internet raise a number of attitudinal and behavioural issues, said Roxana Morduchowicz, who is the author of the soon-to-be released second version of the Internet in the Family guide. Eighty percent use the Internet alone: 90 percent to chat, 45 percent for blogging, and increasingly, of course, for social networks. Again, alone. They have no problem sharing private information on the Internet, including photos, family details, addresses, and their names. Alarmingly, 83 percent of youths trust all Internet information.
Those are some of the major reasons why WAN-IFRA launched the Internet in the Family guide. Internet in the Family covers some of the risks associated with using new technologies and offers strategies for reducing those risks, without “demonising” the Internet and other new technology. WAN-IFRA is offering the Internet guide, due out in November, to newspapers as part of a new initiative to provide young-reader content that newspapers can use to attract supporters and advertisers while helping the families in their audience. The guide will be released at “Making New Connections,” the 8th World Young Reader Conference, set for 27-30 September in Prague. (Details of the conference can be found at http://www.wan-press.org/prague2009 .)
In Argentina, Morduchowicz said three similar guides were launched that were sponsored by a number of technology companies that also believe in social responsibility. The guides were published with the Sunday edition of Clarin, the largest newspaper in Argentina. Promotion is key in launching such products in the paper, for it can reap huge benefits. In the case of Clarin, it meant a significant increase in circulation for those Sunday editions. But the knock-on effects of radio stations picking up on the stories and having talk shows, the same for TV programmes, meant even more promotion for the newspaper and ultimately a much greater awareness of the issue.
More than young – vibrant! Zero Hora, Young Newspaper of the Year 2009
Marcelo Rech, General Director for Product, RBS Group, Brazil
“I have a graph that you can show a board of a company to convince them how important it is to think about young readership,” said Rech at the start of his presentation. The graph showed the performance of five major papers in Brazil between the years 1996 and 2009. The four papers without young reader offerings have seen drastic circulation declines during this period, in some cases by as much as 43 percent, whereas Zero Hora alone has seen circulation growth of 19 percent. Growth continued in 2009 by 2 percent.
“Is it a miracle? Is it manipulation? Is it luck?” Rech asked. “No, for Zero Hora it’s a state of mind – restless, creative, challenging convictions from the past, looking to the future – and to sum up being young in spirit,” he said. Zero Hora is the flagship of the RBS Group, which owns 8 newspapers, 20 TV stations, 92 websites and 26 radio stations as well as mobile channels. Zero Hora has 210 journalists working together in a multimedia newsroom in Porto Alegre, southern Brazil.
One third of the newsroom is under 30 years old. There are also 25 journalism students in support functions to the newsroom and “these 25 students serve as a permanent focus group,” Rech said. “We also still maintain a strong belief in paper,” Rech said, and cited the US$ 50 million the company invested in a new printing plant that opened in June 2009. In explaining how Zero Hora works, Rech said, “Our mantra over the last 10 years is don’t give up on any reader – specially the young ones.”
As a rule, Zero Hora’s aims to be vibrant on every page of every edition through unique layouts, scan-able design, interpretive pictures and exclusive subjects and angles. Rech added that they believe a newspaper must anticipate facts and set the agenda for the other media outlets; be very local; and avoid stories and angles readers have already seen. Young subjects and innovation don’t alienate older readers, he said. Today, those in their 50s are the new 30s, he said, adding: “I have never gotten a complaint from an older reader saying I want to cancel my subscription because your paper is too young for me.”
Furthermore, the company continually looks for new ways to connect with young readers through a variety of means, even creating additional publications such as Kzuka, which won the Young Reader Prize in 2008. Another idea is rewriting major news stories to make them easy for children between the ages of 8-11 to understand. It motivates children to read and parents love it, Rech said. Further efforts include a kids club, games, lots of contests, some of which invite students to submit stories to the newspaper and the best ones are published in print. “A young spirit can just flourish in the right organisational environment,” Rech said.
BILD – from tabloid to tablet
Dr. Andreas Wiele, Director of BILD Gruppe, Axel Springer, Germany
Andreas Wiele believes Apple’s iPad brings the best of both worlds to publishers, enabling them to draw revenues from both digital content and advertising. “I think we should thank Apple for creating such a simple one-click system to charge for content, whether it be on iTunes, iPhone or the iPad. We should learn from this and reap the benefits of this.”
One might think that the largest daily newspaper in Europe, with 11.6 million circulation – which has grown for the past five years while other publishers are struggling – would ease into the digital and tablet realm. But BILD has never stood still, said Wiele. In fact, the company is halfway to the goal it set five years ago of a 50-50 print-digital revenue split. BILD has been very aggressive online, unconcerned about cannibalising its print readers. Fortunately for BILD, there is only a 7 percent overlap between its print and online audiences – 93 percent of the 23.2 million visitors per month to Bild.de don’t read the print newspaper.
But as for other publishers, the question remains: How to monetise that huge online audience? “The bottom line is that you have to build your business before you can really monetise it,” Wiele said. An attraction of BILD’s online products has been reader contributions. It has 1414 reader-reporters and features some 650,000 contributions (articles, videos, photos, etc.). Now the company is asking readers to submit advertising campaigns.
To address the shortfall in online advertising revenues, Axel Springer recently bought the European market leader in online marketing. Wiele said BILD has also realised that its advertising performs much better than does conventional TV advertising, which opens opportunities in that sector. It is all part of moving from one channel to a multi-channel company, he said. Yet he admits that if publishers do not get readers to pay for content online, advertising will not be enough to offset future losses in print advertising. Again, that is why he believes iPad and other e-reading platforms offer a first real opportunity to publishers.
For him, tablets offer four distinct opportunities:
1) To combine advertising of analog and digital content presentation
2) Cumulate circulation
3) Cumulate reach
4) Cumulate monetisation
What newspapers can learn from magazines
Rainer Esser, Managing Director, Die Zeit, Germany
“Ten years ago, we were in an awful mess,” Esser said. That was not the case for other media in Germany or the rest of Europe, where everyone else was doing well. Die Zeit, however, had a loss margin in the double-digits. Today, that has been drastically turned around: Die Zeit is Germany’s biggest quality paper and profit margins are in the low-double digits, he said. Esser explained the key factors for Die Zeit’s success:
– Behaving as if it were in a crisis to constantly innovate and improve. “We went through our crisis 10 years ago when everyone else was doing well,” he said, adding that anyone who has ever really been down doesn’t ever want it to happen again.
– Winning and keeping the best and most diverse staff. Everyone wants the best staff, but Die Zeit does not pay large salaries, so the company tries to compensate staff in other ways, such as offering a large amount of freedom; everyone is allowed to make mistakes at Die Zeit; the staff is diverse and 65 percent are women. Helmut Schmidt, the former chancellor of Germany, also works for Die Zeit. Esser said Schmidt is 92 and will soon go to China for two weeks and then come back and write about it.
– Steadily improving layout and editorial design. “This is a work in progress you have to constantly improve,” Esser said. In former years, every 10 years you had a dramatic relaunch, but you terrify your readers this way; you have to constantly improve, he said.
– Constantly staying in touch with young readers. Die Zeit has products and services for people of all ages – from ages 4 up. “It’s often said that young people are not inclined to read newspapers and magazines,” Esser said. “I can’t bear to hear these complaints any longer. We have to go to them.” Die Zeit has created a number of products that are aimed at children and young people. For example, each year the company publishes 12 books for children. A magazine is published six times a year that is targeted only to kids. Before students enter university, Die Zeit has a magazine that answers many of the questions they might have. These efforts have been paying off, Esser said. “We have enough young readers we do not have to complain.”
– Constantly staying in touch with advertising clients. “Before we go to the clients, we think what are the problems of our clients, and we come to them with solutions,” he said.
– Taking opportunities to invest in new business. Esser says Die Zeit regularly considers the question “What does our target group need more of?” and over the years has introduced magazines, merchandising, events, book editions and much more. “We make conferences in the areas where we are strong – our editors are on stage with major politicians,” he said.
– Being open-minded towards emerging digital markets. “We earn money on the iPad. Not online, but on the iPad,” Esser said.
– Focusing on cooperation between management and editorial staff. “In former days,” he said, “there was a Chinese wall between management and editorial. … I never tell them what to write, but we exchange ideas. … We do our very best to give our editors the very best to do their awesome work.”
Audio and video studio setup for publishers in a nutshell. What kind of infrastructure do I need as a multimedia company?
Alan Tutton, Senior Lecturer in Digital Television at De Montfort University, Leicester, U.K.
“We live in a world where the boundaries between different media types are merging,” Tutton said, and added that “new delivery techniques through the Internet are challenging many traditional industries, including newspapers, the music industry, the film industry and the television and radio industry.” Publishers need to see that multimedia is just another form of story telling, he said.
To start out, Tutton suggested that publishers:
– consider using location reports from journalists.
– concentrate on good, well shot, well recorded stories.
– Bring the story together with simple editing tools.
“It can be done with minimal infrastructure,” he said. Audio and video delivery don’t need to be complicated or require specialists, Tutton added. Publishers should consider using low-cost digital technology and avoid older analogue infrastructure. “Keep it simple and allow it to grow as your experience grows,” he said. In addition, publishers need to think about their output and who will be watching and how. “Are they looking at a small window on a computer screen or on a large HD television?”
Adding a studio can also be an asset, but Tutton advised that at the beginning, publishers should keep it simple and also be mindful of where they put it. “Don’t place the studio down two floors or in a different building. Keep any studio close to the newsroom – consider placing it within the newsroom,” he said.
In conclusion, Tutton recommended that publishers keep the following in mind when adding multimedia to their storytelling mix:
– It needs to be part of the newsroom system and workflow.
– Remember staff training.
– Start small and allow your facility to grow as the need grows.
– Start with an IT-based system.
– Only build a studio infrastructure as the business requires.
– Take advice.
– Keep it simple.
Multi-media production – tools, formats and examples
Christian Thorkildsen, Video Journalist and the News Editor for Video, Aftenposten, Norway; Eirik Wallem Fossan, Multi-media Producer and Flash developer, Aftenposten, Norway
Thorkildsen and Fossan explained that the key reason for using more multi-media within stories is because users spend more time on multi-media stories than they do with traditionally told ones.
One basic multi-media format Aftenposten, Norway’s largest newspaper, started with is the audio slideshow, a series of photos with a voice-over narrative. Audio slideshows are also fairly easy to produce, Fossan said, and over the years he said they’ve seen the following audio slideshow categories:
– Recorded telephone report from correspondent with wire images
– Travel stories with staff photos and studio recording of an accompanying audio track
– Interview with the journalist on a big story alongside staff photos
– Audio and photos from location
On breaking news speed is essential, but not necessarily high-quality images, Thorkildsen said. “As long as we label it cellphone video, users will know to expect lower quality,” he said. The first thing a videojournalist does when getting to a location is to send a short mobile phone video back to the newsdesk, which is done by e-mail or through online services such as Qik or Bambuser. The next recording might be an interview with an eyewitness or a police officer, which is often done with more high-quality gear.
Another form of multi-media storytelling Aftenposten uses is brief video interviews with their columnists. “It’s not fancy but it works, which is the most important thing,” Thorkildsen said. “These columnists are skilled at simplifying complex issues and their videos are very popular.”
“Another example is a graphic we did on the Norwegian pension fund, which actually accounts for 1 percent of all stocks in the world,” Fossan said. Aftenposten published a searchable and sortable list of about 8000 companies and asked users to let them know if they identified companies with ethical issues.
They said Aftenposten’s multimedia stories average 1 minute to 1 minute 20 seconds. However, the length is determined by the content, and one video they’ve done is more than 10 minutes long and they have found that the majority of viewers watched the whole thing. “We’re not saying that multi-media has huge financial returns yet,” Thorkildsen said, “but we find that people come back to them and spend more time with them.” In summary, the two said that publishers aiming to work more with multi-media need dedicated people with tech heads; enthusiasm and content contributions from all departments; inspiration; and the willingness to trial and fail before you succeed.
Summaries by WAN-IFRA's Dean Roper and Brian Veseling.