Thursday, December 14, 2017

The audiences are in charge: are publishers listening?

Recently I was invited to give a lecture at the University of Malaga--"The audiences are in charge: Are publishers listening?" The audience had students in their doctoral, master's and bachelor's programs, as well as a number of faculty.

Below is a summary of the presentation.

1. The marriage of convenience between advertising and journalism is over. For proof, look no further than the graphic below, which shows that newspapers in Spain have lost more than 500 million euros in ad revenue since 2009, and that includes the revenue they get from digital. (The U.S. is very similar.)

In the future, news media will need to develop a deep relationship with their users. The important thing will be not the quantity of eyeballs reached, as measured by page views and unique users, but the quality of the relationship with the users.

Versión en español

The top line shows the decline in newspaper advertising revenue in Spain from 2009 to 2016, a loss of more than 500 million euros. The red line at the bottom shows the growth of digital advertising revenue.
Tip: Journalists need to learn to say these 5 dirty words without blushing
2. Users are more important than sponsors and advertisers.

News media need to gain the loyalty of their users by satisfying their need for trustworthy, credible information. This loyalty has a great economic value. of Spain is just one example of a publication that has monetized its users' trust and loyalty. Although the publication is free, it has persuaded more than 22,000 of its users to pay the equivalent of $70--more than $1 million a year, almost 40% of its budget--to support their project of independent journalism. (Read a detailed description of its business model (in Spanish).

3. Credibility is the new currency of journalism, and news media are emphasizing this in order to attract financial support.

More than 39 organizations around the world have started fact-checking operations.

The Washington Post has reached 1 million digital-only subscriptions promoting itself as a trusted information source. Its slogan: "Democracy dies in darkness."

Similarly, the New York Times has reached 2.3 million digital-only subscribers with their campaign--"Subscribe to debate, not division." And the revenue from digital subs exceeded that of print advertising for the first time--a huge and significant milestone.

4. There are many other examples of news media organizations around the world that have used investigative journalism to earn their users trust and loyalty, which they have converted into economic support.

I concluded with a summary of the 8 practices of successful entrepreneurial journalists (and why so many fail).

In the following video (with English subtitles), venture capitalist Francisco Coronel of Argentina explains why so many startups fail.


How journalists can sell advertising without selling their soul
Chasing clicks isn't bringing in readers or money
How high-quality, credible content wins in the long run
In Latin America, women are making their mark in digital news startups
The top reason globally for paying for news? Mobile access

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