Changing The Engines Whilst Flying – Future Forum 2015


Paul Whybrow

September 21, 2015

Perspectives from the  Future Forum 2015

A great phrase used by Sir Martin Sorell chief Executive of WPP, one of the largest Media groups globally, to describe exactly where publishing media is today.

Speaking at the Future Forum, the annual get together of Australia’s premium publishers in the newspaper and digital news world. His advice ‘ Young people look at news differently – we have to get with it’ his view was that the millennial is interested in news just not getting it served in the way the industry used to serving it, and there are lots of opportunities to experiment and adapt, and publishers can take them even if a bit scary to do so. 

Raju Narisetti the Strategy Head from News Corp had a good angle too. He is pretty sure print is not going away any time soon. His view print was in the‘Portrait business’ spending   most the day setting up the studio, getting the lighting just right and then taking that perfect shot that was the daily newspaper. Now we have evolved to the 24hr movie business and the news is being changed constantly and the newspaper is just one frame from that process.

He gave a good set of perspectives on where things are going, which included some clear insight: –

  • Digital advertising will help growth – just not necessarily for publishers. There needs to be more done to sell context around the advertising.
  • Pay walls can work – just don’t count on them – see them as part of the survival plan but not as the single silver bullet solution for falling traditional revenues. See the advantage of a pay wall is the potential other benefits, like creating value in retention and developing data revenue opportunities. Build your readership so that you can really pay attention to your membership subscribers who place a high value on what you give them.
  • Shift from gatekeeper to gate opener. In the past editors often saw themselves as deciding exactly what news was important to their readers and guiding them through the editorial placement. Now you want to give as much opportunity for readers to discover all the news that you offer so they can see their personal value from the brand.
  • Smart curation and navigation not just good journalism. With the vast array of news opportunities, the stories can become commoditised, however the curation of news is a highly valued skill that can now be seen as a powerful differentiator.
  • Video offers great hope. Video watching is rising exponentially and so key to digital publishing. To make money from this medium requires careful balancing between creating your own content and using 3rd party content to fill the void.
  • Our mobility reality will be a harsh reality. Mobility usage as growing superfast but the revenues are not rising proportionately. Ad blockers are an issue with between 10 and 40% of people using them that is serious revenue leakage.
  • Content is still king but experiences will rule. Even if papers have great journalism how can papers challenge themselves to creating great-integrated experiences.

All in all a great perspective from Raju. 

One other session that really grabbed me was the Champions of Change, a session on how two media companies have taken the journey to adapt and look at cross platform integration in the way they create and sell their news.

Jane Hastings, , CEO of NZME gave a fantastic story of how the various New Zealand assets of the business have been brought together and the cross media selling is undertaking, whilst still keeping the strength of radio and print specialiality.

Brett McArthy, editor of the West Australian and Howard Greton, News Director of Seven News Perth passionately brought to life the integration of the Seven West combined newsroom

I loved their vision that is that one day ‘everyone will be thinking video’ and they will create a video-producing powerhouse. It is an impressive story of creating the first Australian multiplatform news super desk with news conferences held in the centre of the newsroom.

The best for experienced media folk like me was that when there is a big story breaking, despite all the technology available, the editor stands up and barks out the message so all can hear and get into action quickly.

Good to hear the old electric feel of the busy newsroom is certainly not dead.

This article was written by Paul Whybrow from CapGemini: Capping IT Off and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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