Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Univision looks beyond the U.S. to capture audience of 500 million Spanish speakers

AUSTIN, Texas -- Univision has been the most important Spanish language media company in the U.S. Now its digital news arm is taking aim at the 500 million Spanish speakers around the world. 

Borja Echevarria, its digital editor-in-chief, says his team is at the beginning of an initiative aimed at Spanish speakers in Latin America and globally. 

"Fishermen in the desert," Univision's report on a lake that dried up in Bolivia.
“We are covering topics that might occur in Bolivia but that could be related to something that occurs in Colombia or in Peru. We are not trying to attack highly local topics, at least not in this first stage. We are looking for topics of international interest.”
He made his comments to me in an interview in April on the sidelines of the International Symposium on Online Journalism.

Versión en español

An example of the kind of coverage he described was Univision.com’s multimedia package on Lake Poopó, the second-largest in Bolivia, which dried up because of climate change and has left a community of fishermen high and dry. 

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Readers pay for digital news when you sell the value

NEW YORK -- The big mystery in the newspaper industry has been how to get digital readers to pay for a product they have been getting free for years.

Denise Warren
The industry has struggled because subscription operations were always loss leaders that didn't pay for themselves. Executives had no idea how to run a profitable subscription operation and have been learning how to do it for the first time, said Denise Warren, who played a major role in the New York Times's transition to paid digital subscriptions.

She spoke May 3 to an audience of professors and industry representatives at the World Media Economics and Management Conference held at Fordham University.

Many publishers make the mistake of marketing their digital products on the basis of price and discounts, Warren said, when they should be promoting the unique value proposition of news and information that readers cannot get anywhere else.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Loyal users will pay for watchdog journalism

Kinsey Wilson. Photo by Mary Kang/Knight Center
AUSTIN, Texas -- One of the dirty little secrets in digital media is that the big numbers of page views and unique users touted by publishers are misleading at best. They overstate a publication's audience size and impact.

Most visitors to a publisher's content are fly-bys: They stay for only a few seconds. And even if they stay longer than that, the vast majority come to a publisher's website only once or twice a month. These are not loyal users devoted to a brand.

What is more interesting and meaningful, especially for publishers of serious news and information, is that the smaller number of loyal users -- who come frequently, linger, and read many pages -- is willing to pay for the content and other products. They identify strongly with the brand.

Kinsey Wilson, editor of innovation and strategy at the New York Times, brought the point home last week at the International Symposium on Online Journalism when he mentioned that 90 percent of  his publication's digital revenue comes from 10 percent of its users.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Panama Papers: Lone-wolf journalists form a pack

Investigative journalists have achieved a new level of sophistication and collaboration as shown by this explosive investigation of offshore tax havens used by the wealthy and powerful. 

The investigation by 109 media organizations from 76 countries has shaken government leaders from China to Russia to Great Britain. It has led to the resignation of the prime minister of Iceland, who used a tax haven to avoid paying taxes on 3.5 million euros. 

The 376 journalists on the Panama Papers team overcame many obstacles, not the least of which was their own competitiveness. All of these journalists and news organizations agreed not to publish any of their findings until the agreed upon time on Sunday April 3. 

Versión en español

These journalists, who are accustomed to work like lone wolves and jealously keep their sources and information to themselves, had to "radically share" information with each other and overcome differences in language, culture, and practice. 

Saturday, March 19, 2016

14,500 friends lay out cash for aggressive journalism

Amid all the bad news about business models for high-quality journalism, eldiario.es ("The Daily") in Spain shows that good journalism can be good business.

Escolar: "Journalism is a public service that has to be profitable"
Its founder and CEO, Ignacio Escolar, just announced that the publication finished 2015 with revenues of US$ 2.6 million, up 33% on the year, and a profit after taxes of US$ 235,000.

Although the digital publication is free, its 14,500 "partners" (socios) pay at least US$ 66 a year to get access to the news a few hours ahead of everyone else as well as ad-free pages, discounts, and invitations to events.

Those partners brought in about a third of eldiario.es's revenues, "And they allow us to remain independent," Escolar said in his announcement. Although advertising brings in more than the partner revenue, no single advertiser comes close to bringing in what the partners do, so none has enough leverage to influence editorial decisions, he said.

Versión en español

Friday, March 11, 2016

Is Facebook swallowing journalism? Embrace it, says Washington Post's digital chief

Emilio Garcia-Ruiz speaks to the press in Huesca. Photo by EFE
HUESCA, Spain -- Yes, it’s good to have a billionaire owner with patience, but it’s even better to have a billionaire owner with a vision.

And the vision of Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos is that a news organization has to make its work available free, everywhere.

Bezos is urging the publication's journalists to adopt the principles of retail sales that he has learned over the years in running Amazon, America's largest online retailer of practically everything.

And the man who is putting that vision into practice is Emilio Garcia-Ruiz, the Post's managing editor for digital.

Versión en español

A fundamental concept in retail strategy is the sales funnel, Garcia-Ruiz said in his keynote address March 10 at the Digital Journalism Conference in Huesca, Spain. The idea is to get as many people as possible to sample your product (in journalism, it's through sharing in social networks), get them to pay for a product, and then make them repeat buyers for higher-value products. At each stage the pool of customers is smaller but spending more.

The key in a business sense, said Garcia-Ruiz, is to keep expanding that pool at the top of the funnel, just as Amazon has done in retail. And from a journalism perspective, the key is to merge the best journalism with the best technology to keep people coming back for more.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Your career is an adventure: Be an adventurer

Last week the Department of Communication at the University of Navarra invited 16 alumni with interesting career paths to share their stories with the students. 

I attended four of the sessions and heard a similar comment from each of the presenters: I never imagined that I would be doing the things I am doing now in my professional career. A journalism major was hired in public relations by a German automaker, partly because he learned German during a year of study abroad. Another journalism major's assignment to cover sporting events, in which he had little expertise, eventually led to assignments covering culture and entertainment, which he loves.

Many unimaginable opportunities presented themselves at unexpected moments from unlikely sources. Professional life for them had been an adventure.

Iñaki Gabilondo, Foto de biografiasyvidas.com
Versión en español

The advice these alumni gave also ran along similar lines: You need to be flexible, learn at every stage of your career, and commit yourself to doing the best work you can.

These comments brought to mind an interview I heard a while ago with another graduate of the University of Navarra's journalism program, an icon of Spanish radio and television, Iñaki Gabilondo. He spent two decades at the head of one of Spain's most-listened-to daily news radio programs, anchored a nightly news program and today has a video commentary blog called the Voice of Iñaki (La voz de Iñaki, Spanish).