Saturday, May 26, 2018

Users will own the media: how journalism is evolving

Alfredo Triviño has worked largely behind the scenes on some of the biggest digital media projects for some of the biggest brands in the world. But you might not have heard of him.

Alfredo Triviño: users will own the media, in every sense
He spent seven years in senior management roles at News Corp., ultimately as director of innovation, where he worked on development of a pay model for digital journalism and on long-term editorial and commercial growth strategies. (He is a 1999 graduate of the University of Navarra School of Communication, where I teach.)

He was invited to give the closing keynote address last week to the annual conference of the Spanish Journalism Society (SEP, Sociedad Española de Periodística). He ruminated casually about trends he sees in the worlds of digital journalism and digital commerce, mixing some English terminology into his Spanish presentation. Among the shifts he sees:

A shift from journalism and commerce to journalism vs. commerce. That is, the two will operate in separate worlds. Journalism will depend on the support of user communities rather than advertising. Brands will create their own digital media rather than publishing their messages on TV, radio, and in print.

A shift from paid editorial (subscriptions) to shared ownership. By this Triviño meant that groups of users will form around a topic of shared interest--local news of a community, a social issue, or a shared cultural interest, for example. They will be active participants rather than passive consumers. They will interact with the journalists, suggest topics to editors, share their knowledge, create content, contribute money, and support the mission of the publication because they feel they are part of it and it speaks for them. "This is ours; we own it".

A shift from products to movements. That is, both media and commerce will try to engage people with a sense of shared values, ethics, or aspirations. The public, the users want to be part of something bigger.

Triviño showed an image of former FBI director James Comey and his book, "A Higher Loyalty" to capture the notion that people want to identify with something aspirational and transformational, something other than just consuming a product. (Interestingly, the founder of one of the most successful independent digital media startups, De Correspondent of Holland, has said the same thing: "Start a movement, not a publication".)

A focus on the Truth. By this Triviño meant high-quality, authentic, surprising content, not clickbait or noise. In the digital age, large news organizations have focused too much on distribution--quantity rather than quality, speed rather than reflection--all of which has served users badly, he said. Publishers have saturated users with low-quality content in order to generate clicks and ad revenue and have ended up driving users away. 


As a media consultant, Triviño has tried to help media counter these trends. He is founder and CEO of Audacity Partners--which creates print and digital products in media, entertainment and education for clients such as Spain's leading news outlet, El País, as described in the promotional video below.

El País Economía ( 2 ) from Audacity Partners on Vimeo.

The decline of advertising

Triviño is also founder and CEO of Lyxstreet, which designs marketing campaigns for brands.
The advertising side of the media equation is also changing radically. "Brands are becoming their own media," Triviño said. Rather than advertising products in traditional media--"products aren't worth anything"--brands are developing their own immersive, video-based experiences, particularly on mobile platforms, to drive ecommerce. "Content-driven experiences will win," he said.

Triviño affirmed some of the same trends I have been seeing, although I may be describing them in different terms:

  • A pivot of publishers toward users and away from advertisers and investors (here, here and here). 
  • As an extension of that, Credibility as the new currency of journalism, its most important asset (here and here).
Triviño's companies and projects will be watched with interest.

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