(L to R) John Pullman, Reuters Global Head of Video and Pictures; Maisie McCabe, Deputy Editor of Campaign; Madhav Chinnappa, Director of Strategic Relations for News and Publishers at Google; Nathalie Malinarich, Mobile Editor, BBC News Online; and Nic Newman, Research Association at Reuters Institute at the Reuters Tomorrow's News 2017 event in London, June 14, 2017. Photo Copyright Navjot Singh
It’s been a year of huge change and disruption for the global news landscape. On the evening of 14 June at One Marylebone in London, the Tomorrow’s News 2017 event hosted by Reuters unveiled some of the key news consumption shifts in the last 12 months, what’s influencing news attitudes and behaviours, and what the future holds. Some of the key questions revolved around fake news and to understand what are facts worth and how they are verified.
The lively discussion was attended by some of the key influencers in the media industry.
On the discussion panel were Nic Newman, Research Association at Reuters Institute; Madhav Chinnappa, Director of Strategic Relations for News and Publishers at Google; Nathalie Malinarich, Mobile Editor, BBC News Online and Maisie McCabe, Deputy Editor of Campaign. The discussion was chaired by John Pullman, Reuters Global Head of Video and Pictures Reuters.
The opening and closing speeches were conducted by Jeffery Perkins, Commercial Director, EMEA, Reuters. The discussion revolved around a report published by Reuters, which included a global survey of 1,711 Reuters.com users, and the findings which show that while fake news can be damaging for both news brands and advertisers, brands which advertise on trusted news sites can benefit. Unfortunately, Ben de Pear – Editor of Channel 4 News could not make it to the event because he was busy covering the tragic news of the fire at Grenfell Tower in west London.
Some of the findings of the report included:
Some of the highlights of the event included:
Chinnappa said that Google is “trying to give the answers that the users are looking for when they search, which is a very specific thing. So, for us, when you look at false news, on some levels, that’s news spam. It’s people trying to game the system. And we’ve been trying to fight that from the beginning of Google. He noted that as a father he understands the need for security and privacy of content on the site, especially when it comes to graphic content- and that Google is working very hard to make sure that brands and individuals are not lined in with the graphic content and are moderating the content that is published. He also mentioned that it is a challenging task.
Malinarich noted that brand attribution or recognition on social media is difficult. “If you spend your whole day snacking on Facebook, you know you’ve read things about Trump or whatever it is, but you don’t who wrote them or made the video at the end. …it’s just kind of a jumble in your head and you remember the actual stories and the headlines, but you don’t really remember who provided that.” One of the best things I heard was when she said that the problem with mainstream media is that the majority of the key decisions on stories are made by a select few group of networked people and not the mainstream junior staff and that is challenging to change. Does that mean that stories are biased or that editors tell their staff to write stories to shift the public’s viewpoint of someone in government or create a base for a public debate through influence? Maybe.
The way people buy online advertising, McCabe said, was to look for the cheapest way to find people who look like they might be interested in their brand. “That means they don’t pay attention to necessarily where the ad is going to run, so then you have the situation where people are chasing numbers by any means. It’s definitely something advertisers need to be wary of.”
On fake news, Newman said “Whose responsibility is it? Is it publishers, is it platforms, is it users? In this world, it’s all of those. Users get the benefits of greater choice, but downside of that is they have to do more work themselves to work out what is true and what isn’t.
They are, and they relish that. They see that trade off when you talk to them. From a publisher’s point of you, they need to do more about transparency. From a platform point of view, they need to do more as well to show the value of brands.
One of the key trends that nobody spoke about was Big Data and the effect it could have on the publishing and media industries. I mean, for example, if you have one person who has spread fake news then how much of an effort in terms of time, money and human resources would it take to turn that mistrust with the public into a credible and trustworthy piece of news? How much of a help would Big Data have in this, if any?
Other main areas of discussion revolved around the following key areas:
(L to R) Nic Newman, Research Association at Reuters Institute; Jeffery Perkins, Commercial Director, EMEA, Reuters; Madhav Chinnappa, Director of Strategic Relations for News and Publishers at Google; Nathalie Malinarich, Mobile Editor, BBC News Online; Maisie McCabe, Deputy Editor of Campaign; and John Pullman, Reuters Global Head of Video and Pictures at the Reuters Tomorrow's News 2017 event in London, June 14, 2017. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor
In a world that has become digital and where media outlets are competing to report honest and reliable news that is delivered accurately and with speed, the question on everyone’s minds is, what is the future of news? This was exactly the topic of discussion at an event hosted by Thompson Reuters earlier this week, where panellists discussed how audiences of tomorrow will consume and engage with journalism, which platforms and formats will dominate, what tomorrow’s news will look and sound like and how it will be monetised.
Navjot Singh, editor of 12ahead.com at The Knowledge Engineers, attended the live discussion held at the EMEA HQ of Thomson Reuters in London on the 1st of June. The event, named ‘Tomorrow’s News’, was a follow-on industry discussion that derived from an important survey by Reuters.com into the news reading habits of over 1,200 of the site’s users, which was released earlier on the same day that the panel discussion was held. The publication’s digital executive editor Aron Pilhofer from the Guardian said it was “doubling down” on paid-for membership after signs of decline in digital display advertising within the industry.
Eighty-four per cent of respondents of the survey said they were interested in receiving breaking news, and 85 per cent of them said they do so by checking multiple sources. The survey also highlighted that when it comes to people's desire to pay for quality news – 62 per cent of those surveyed agreed they would not consider paying.
The research also sheds some light on what digital trends and new technology formats are likely to influence how younger Reuters.com readers will consume news in the future, with over ninety-three per cent agreeing that the increasing power of mobile devices will play an important role, while 88 per cent also cited mobile app development as a factor.
Apart from Pilhofer, panellists at the discussion, which was broadcast live on Facebook Live and on Periscope, included Mark Challinor, head of the INMA, Google’s Eero Korhonnen, Nathalie Malinarch, editor for mobile and new formats at BBC News Online and NowThis president Athan Stephanopoulos. The panel discussion was moderated by John Pullman, global head of video and pictures at Reuters.
In an era of distributed content, what does a news brand mean and do they have a future, especially when a news article ends up on a social media platform? Ms. Malinarch said that trust is important when it comes to a news article, and the accuracy and reliability of a news item determines how much an importance a brand is.
She specifically pointed out that in an environment like Facebook, where the distinction between news outlets seems to become blurred when everyone is covering a particular story in a similar video format with text on screen, there will be characteristics that will make individual publishers stand out. "Certain news brands are a destination and they will continue to be." She said.
"If you spend 30 minutes in your Facebook feed watching videos, at some point you are no longer sure where they came from. Why would people look for the Guardian or BBC on Facebook? They need a reason to do that and publishers need to work out what that reason should be.”
"The distinguishing quality can be the outlet's personality, or impartiality, or trustworthiness."
Pilhofer said that the Guardian views print news as “the bridge to our future”, as he revealed it is managing the traditional news medium for decline while looking to drive growth from digital and membership. The key question asked was ‘Who is going to pay for news in the future?’ and ‘How is it going to be funded?’
In regards to how are we going to actually pay for news in the future, it goes without saying that there is an awful lot of gloom in the industry at the moment with bad news being heard almost every other day. So, for example, just in the last ten days we’ve had the Daily Mail UK saying that there has been a collapse in ad-spending and share prices falling by more than ten percent, disappointing revenue figures from the New York Times, Buzzfeed missing revenue targets, and to make matters even worse we have seen data that one in five people in the world are actively using an ad-blocker on their smartphone. So, with all of this in mind, the key question is, where is the money coming from?
In response to John Pullman’s point that the Guardian is shockingly losing over a million pounds a week (!), Pilhofer went on to comment: “We all know what’s happening with print, that hasn’t really changed. It’s a constant decline and I don’t think I’m going to be breaking any news here by saying that isn’t going to change. We know where that story ends.”
Agreeing with Pullman, a confident Pilhofer went on to say: “It is without a doubt incredibly challenging. The thing that has happened recently is that digital display [advertising] has absolutely cratered. The New York Times, for example are down one per cent year on year on digital display after years of growth – sometimes high double digit growth – and so where does that revenue now come from?. Revenue has to come from readers and so we are doubling down on membership which we launched about a year and a half ago. So that’s where we see the opportunity and the one place where we really can start to drive some revenue.”
In regards to the payment subscription and the sensitive issue of paywalls, Pilhofer said The Guardian was not considering a paywall, despite previous statements from the company that members are likely to gain access to more content in future as part of their subscription.
“I think the danger with a paywall is you put up a paywall and then do nothing else and suddenly the money starts coming in – and that’s exactly what we saw with the New York Times – it explodes then it plateaus and everybody goes ‘oh good, the internet’s solved”, explained Pilhofer.
He continued: “The danger with paywalls is they can lull you into a sense of complacency so you don't look at the fundamentals of your business. For example a business that has been for almost 200 years, in our case, oriented around a single product that is a printed newspaper.”
“Now we’re getting into a world in which you have to think about suites of products and new products and new revenue streams and how do you realign a company that has been fundamentally organised around one thing to be reorganised around many things and what is the role in particular, in our case because we are an editorial-led organisation, what is the role of editorial in that?”
“That’s why membership, which fundamentally has to be driven by editorial, is transformative and is the thing for us that will push us in the direction we need to go.”
He added: “The strategy is not anti-print. Print is a big piece of what we’re doing but we are managing it for decline because that’s responsible and that’s just frankly the way things have been heading for the past 15 years.”
“We talk about print as being the bridge to our future and that’s actually the right way to think about it and that’s the way the New York Times is thinking about it.”
“You’re ring-fencing costs and you’re thinking about how we can manage to create the best possible print product every day, which we do, and still drive growth where growth is – and that’s going to be on the digital side. It just is. It’s not going to come from the print side.”
The Guardian's data insights team looks at metrics for success that can be aligned with the outlet's strategy, including that of attracting paid members.
Athan Stephanopolous of NowThis said the company's insights team works closely with editorial to "measure the performance of every single piece of content on each platform" it publishes on, but putting this data in the larger context of "success" differently according to each platform's specifics. He confirmed that Snapchat has become its most important platform - now 15% of monthly traffic.
"We have to think about people's behaviour. If we only consider the stories that are important to us, it's a futile exercise if people are not interested in them. Said Stephanopolous.”
He went on to say: "When someone likes your page, they're essentially giving you the authority to enter their newsfeed, so we have to take that seriously."
Click here to watch the full discussion, as recorded live on Periscope.
This article was first published on 12ahead.com and on the blog of The Knowledge Engineers.
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