How New Media Became Now Media
“There is much doom and gloom, but quite often we forget how many different ways of being a journalist there are now”, says Carla Buzasi.
Buzasi thinks this is the most exciting time to be working in journalism. She argues that soon everyone in the industry is going to be a multi-media journalist. In her opinion, it is important to combine the so-called ‘old’ journalistic skills like fact checking to the new ones, for example social media and technology-related skills.
The UK edition of the Huffington Post, the online news aggregator and blog, was launched in summer 2011. Buzasi, now the chief content officer for a trend forecast company WGSN, was among the first editors to launch The Huffington Post outside the US.
In her three years at The Huffington Post, Buzasi saw the rapid switch from desktop to mobile, a change that requires quick adaptation. “When the metrics show that Whatsapp is bringing traffic to the site, it is better to put those Whatsapp share buttons on the site really quickly.”
Mastering technology is going to be even more important in the future. For example, The Huffington Post has found a way of bringing traffic in from ‘evergreen’ content which is not news-based but seasonal, and can be found by looking at the peaks from last years' metrics. However, Buzasi states that journalists still have to trust their gut instinct beyond metrics. Otherwise it is impossible to give people what they want but at the same time deliver something they didn't yet know they want.
Buzasi finds that the idea of combining blogging and news makes The Huffington Post a brand that can be launched around the world. The 10,000 bloggers on the site are blogging for free. According to Buzasi, the editors want to bring in as many different voices as possible, and the balance of ordinary people and celebrities like Prince Charles and David Beckham blogging on the site is crucial. Still, it is editorial content that brings in more traffic than blog posts. At the moment, there are over 30 journalists working for the Huffington Post UK, and three of them moderate blogs.
In the future, Buzasi sees more new media brands breaking through. That is because young audiences aren't tied to old brands in the same way the older generations are. At the moment, she finds BuzzFeed, Vice and Flipboard to be of particular interest. Buzasi has faith in journalism companies: as she sees it, those journalism companies who master technology will be the winners in the game – not the technology companies who master journalism.
In The Huffington Post, it is projected that more than 50 per cent of the income will come from native advertising. Buzasi states that in addition to native advertising, targeted and programmatic advertising are the biggest trends in digital marketing at the moment.
For those interested in making a career in journalism, Buzasi has one piece of advice: Get experience by blogging. “[Young people] have to have some way of showing that they want to be journalists, and blogging is a good way to do it.”
Written by Kati Toivanen.
Carla Buzasi, founding editor of The Huffington Post UK, and current Global Chief Content Officer at trend forecasters WGSN spoke at the Business and Practice of Journalism seminar at Green Templeton College on Wednesday 5 November 2014.