Innovation in News Media World Report 2022-23

Innovation in News Media World Report 2022-23

Editor’s Note

WE ARE BACK. Back in print, back to launching with an in-person event and as we emerge from a fragile world, we are happy to report that we find the news industry stronger than ever. A pandemic without journalism? Unthinkable. And now a major war without journalism? Also unthinkable. We need to build from this position of strength, even as the media world at large is in a period of unprecedented flux. And to do that we have identified some key areas for publishers to focus on.

1 Reader revenue remains the biggest transformational theme for the industry when reliable information remains critical to health and security. As we move forward, this is the one maxim that publishers need to keep returning to: Know Thy Reader. It is time to get our readers backand own our relationships with them completely. Over the years we fell continually for the promises of Big Tech companies and the ecosystems they organised in the hopes that it would give us scale and money. That era looks to be coming to an end. Facebook is checking out of the news business definitively. And while Google keeps delaying the phase-out of third-party cookies on its Chrome browser, that day is coming. What we’re left with is first-party data collected directly from our readers. It is both a throwback to an era without social media, andthe key to a stronger future for our industry. First-party data gives us the chance to have a direct relationship, control the pricing, content and dialogue with our readers without intermediaries. This is a massive shift and one we must prepare for. We have been running blind digital businesses. It is time to get eyes and develop a better vision for the future.

2- The war and energy crisis are making the cost of newsprint prohibitive for many publishers thus accelerating digital business models. Publishers must now become product companies and not just news media publishers. Doing so requires a major shift in thinking. Product thinking begins with realising that every way people experience the news is a possible product or feature. The people who drive this outlook in newsrooms come from diverse fields and though product teams are the youngest in most newsrooms, they are increasingly rallying points for driving innovation.

3- Yes to the metaverse, AI and whatever new technologies may come in the Web 3.0 world. We absolutely do need to dip our toes in and keep up with all these changes. But let’s get it right this time, let’s make sure it is journalism first, technology second. Let’s not chase the next big shiny thing, until and unless we discover proven business models. This is an area that’s fast-evolving and it’s quite possible that we have an entirely new set of approaches by next year, but for now we begin the initial documentation of publishers looking to take the plunge and reinvent narratives for this new age of media.

4- as a business model is not the answer – it should be the last resort when all else has failed. There are some notable examples of publishers that have made this work but in general this is not a model that can be imitated easily. We do not have to become mendicant media. There is now a proven local, regional and national model for news media to pursue and it is centred on putting the reader at the heart of the revenue model. For publishers that find paywalls a bit of a blunt force instrument there are now also plenty of proven ways to convert readers into members who will support the journalistic values and mission of your outlet.

5- We should focus on the new formats and innovations that are bringing us success, the ‘conversion monsters’, so to speak. Perhaps the most exciting new field in journalism right now is visual investigations and the ability of newsrooms to reconstruct events in minutiae, using publicly available material like satellite images, mobile phone or security camera recordings, geolocation and other internet tools to tell stories. We detail some fantastic examples of this new form of journalism from newsrooms across the world as well as innovation in an older product – the digital
edition – that is proving to be an effective bridge product for readers being converted to the digital age. These are the areas for publishers to invest in, playing to our strengths even as we navigate larger changes around us.

Happy reading, and here’s to building astronger future for our industry.

The Innovation in News Media World Report is published every year by INNOVATION Media Consulting, in association with WAN-IFRA. The report is co-edited by INNOVATION President, Juan Señor, and Senior Consultant Jayant Sriram