Broad Based Media
Journalism, Innovation and Big Ideas
The Future of Journalism: Business Models, Fake News and Credibility
The World Media Group and Wall Street Journal recently hosted a breakfast briefing to discuss current hot topics not just being faced by broad based media groups but also ideas and innovations that they are turning to in order to keep ahead of their markets and industry.
Moderated by Hayley Romer, Chief Revenue Officer of The Atlantic, the panel included Tom Standage, Deputy Editor of The Economist; Phillipa Leighton-Jones, Editorial Director of Innovation at the Wall Street Journal; Kunal Dutta, Chief Editor of Digital Channels at Shell; Alex Wood, Europe Editor at Forbes and Bénédicte Autret, Head of Strategic Relations at Google.
The briefing aimed to discuss amongst other things
- Can freedom of speech be maintained in a world that wants to silence opinion?
- Does journalistic integrity matter in a world of fake and user generated news?
- How is the newsroom adapting to digitalisation?
- Will consumers of the future be prepared to pay for quality journalism and expert content?
Established editorial brands are learning fast that there is a need to change and adapt in order to continue to produce high quality and credible journalism.
Mainstream journalism is facing a cornucopia of challenges perhaps most notably the issue of 'fake news'. Although panelist Tom Standage pointed out that this is by no means a modern phenomenon.
He believes this goes back to the early days of the printing press when, if you had nothing to print, you could dust off an old pamphlet about a witch trial or terrible disaster, change the details and print it off. People loved to read about it and had no way of verifying its credibility.
As the first news-sheets arrived in the 18th century, editors took a more responsible approach and realised they had to be reliable and trustworthy thus began modern trusted journalism.
According to Alex Delamain, President of the World Media Group and Head of Client Sales and Services at The Economist, the return to 'fake news' has been driven by the internet's disaggregation of newspapers due to the fact it is often impossible to find the provenance of a story shared via social media.
"Clearly it's worrying but it has led to the big media brands focusing more than ever on quality journalism not just for commercial reasons but because the sustainability of trusted journalism is paramount to society. For instance, without it people would not have exposure to topics like climate change and so there would be no behaviour change."
Hayley Romer, Chief Revenue Officer and Publisher at The Atlantic
Kunal Dutta, Chief Editor of Digital Channels at Shell also believes that factual rigour is being applied to corporate content as well.
His team members all have journalistic backgrounds which means they take a journalistic approach to information inside the business. They apply strict checks and balances to all their stories and truth always outweighs the marketing messages.
Obviously when marketing messages can be combined with news worthy, interesting and relevant information within the business, it's a winner.
Kunal Dutta, Chief Editor of Digital Channels at Shell
Gerard Baker, editor of the Wall Street Journal, speaks at City University on the evolution of business journalism
Where will Innovation stem from?
The innovation function in publishing is a rare bridge between commercial teams and newsrooms; it includes events or 'live journalism' but increasingly it also sits in new digital media which we are continuously working on
Phillipa Leighton-Jones, Editorial Director, Innovation, Wall Street Journal
I teach journalism students and trainees at City University and what I teach is changing rapidly. There is an increasing focus on ensuring they are editorial yes, but also that they are commercially minded. If they aren't, they won't be seen as relevant or valuable by employers.
Alex Wood, Europe Editor, Forbes
Innovation has to be measured with a yardstick that is bigger than revenue alone. It must be in line with core brand values and do what your audience wants you to do.
Tom Standage, Deputy Editor, The Economist
Journalists should not just be thinking about how to develop a great story or podcast but look at what innovations they can use to tell a richer story - what delivers the news could become just as important as the news itself.
Kunal Dutta, Chief Editor of Digital Channels, Shell
Working with Media
How EI can help
The demand for a change in publishing business models should spell increasingly exciting news for EI’s corporate clients. If necessity is the mother of invention, then the publishers’ growing need to pivot their businesses away from advertising or subscriptions means that the time is ripe for really smart, creative thinking on how corporates can work innovatively to craft increasingly well integrated and eye (mind)- catching content partnerships with the broad business media.
Simultaneously, as hefty incumbent business titles increasingly invest in story-telling through new technologies from podcasts and audio-articles through to augmented and virtual reality experiences, corporates wishing to turn heads in their messaging can increasingly weave these new technologies into their campaigns and will do well to step out on the front foot taking a lead with the right kind of innovation which really resonates with target audiences.
If only it was that easy. The flip side of the existential conundrum faced by publishers today is the critical demand for credibility and independence. As the panel discussed in detail, the ‘Chinese wall’ which marks Church-State divide remains sacred – the challenge is to create, as Tom Standage said, smart, interesting and acceptable ‘windows and doors in that wall’ – and evidently some of the industry’s best brains have been set to work on locating where these portals should sit.
EI’s clients are increasingly looking to us for ambitious ‘Halo’ and ‘Big Ideas’ campaigns – all of which require us to work deeply and creatively with the broad business media.
Clients want carefully crafted proposals which not only ensure elite editorial alignment but are eye catching, relevant and ultimately game changing!
To this extent – EI, our corporate clients, and our editorial media partners are all collectively engaged in navigating the rocky climbs of newly forged territory (technology, innovation, possibility), balanced on age-old critical fault-lines (editorial integrity in isolation from commercial interests!). Despite certain challenges and unknowns, in seizing this opportunity, clients will be at the forefront of the sea-change which is clearly afoot!
Key Takeaways for B2B Marketers
- Publishers know they have to work with corporates in a more innovative fashion
- Publishers say C-Level readers are now most likely to consume content via audio
- Publishers and their editorial teams often prefer to work with corporates when there is an in-house news desk involved
- Publishers are looking for new ways to position client content in smarter more integrated formats such as within Apps or AR
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