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Innovation in news media

04 Feb 2015

Seminar Report “There were three Estates in Parliament, but in the Reporters Gallery yonder, there sat a fourth Estate more important far than they all.” We have indeed come a long way since Edmund Burke coined the phrase almost three centuries back: from pamphlets to broadsheets via television and radio to the current digital age. Juan Señor says mobiles are now the seventh medium.  He says that it is estimated that 1.8 billion or 82% of mobile phones will be smart phones by 2017. Mobile devices were responsible for 28% of all the website traffic in the third quarter of 2013. Tablet ownership is expected to quadruple in two years. The lingua franca will be HTML5, and the easiest way to grow traffic will be video. So, if the modes of news transmission and methods of consumption are changing, will the news industry in general have to make concomitant adjustments? To underscore his prognosis, Señor cites the success story of Atlantic Media’s digital-only and mobile-centric site Quartz. Unlike the traditional media, where reporters have beats, editorial content at Quartz is rooted to what its editor-in-chief Kevin Delaney calls ‘obsessions’- custom-made for what ‘smart and globally minded people are interested in’. So where does the money come from? Has the eureka-moment finally arrived for digital media-sustainable business models? For mobiles, Juan Señor says, the meter model is the way forward. And the prescription for revenue generation through advertising is: go ‘native’. It comes with many other names: advertorials, content marketing or advertising which appears like content. Some though have been relatively more transparent in calling it ‘branded content’. It’s been a contentious issue for many years even in the traditional media, particularly when you try to draw a hard line between pure editorial content and advertising. Juan Señor covered a wide range of issues to do with the way traditional print media organisations, including in many developing countries, will have to adapt to survive.  He highlighted the example of La Nación in Costa Rica, where even the chairs in the newly-designed newsroom have wheels in order to change with the new times ahead. 

Written by Sumit Pande.

Juan Señor, partner at Innovations Media, spoke at the Business and Practice of Journalism seminar at Green Templeton College on Wednesday 28 January 2015.

Photo credit: Johan Larsson