Friday, July 18, 2014

As technology segments the news market, we can only wait and watch

A few interesting articles, all of them echoing the same sentiment, caught my eye the past few weeks, thanks mainly to Joe Scaria who chose to retire from a well-paying job in Journalism at 50 to pursue his interests, but still keeps in touch with developments in the field and has me in the loop. 

One of the articles by John Gapper in the Financial Times points to how “advertisers have lost the attention of a generation”.  We have shifted from parents trying to stop teenagers slumping in front of the TV to young people losing all interest in the box. US teens are so occupied with social networks and mobile video that they watch only about 21 minutes of live TV a week, Gapper writes. According to him, the ad industry is suffering from attention deficit disorder – the audience that once sat obediently in front of TV spots lovingly devised by its creatives is hard to pin down. Millennials are out there, on their phones and tablets, but they are as likely to be tweeting angrily about a brand as noticing its ads in the content stream. He adds: Publishers complain that the rates they can charge advertisers are falling steadily, especially in mobile, but this is a problem equally for advertisers and agencies. If digital and mobile ads are not worth buying, despite the migration of the audience from traditional media, something is wrong. Indeed, technology has not helped advertisers but rather, it has given viewers a tool to fight back.

Writing for BloombergView, Megan McArdle says online journalism is suffering print’s fate. She sums it up pithily: dollars in print, dimes on the Web, pennies on mobile. The problem is, advertising dollars are shrinking, she writes, “We just can't charge as much for Web advertising as we used to for print advertising. A decade ago, when I entered professional journalism and began earnestly discussing its financial future, there was a reasonable case that, eventually, digital advertising would be worth more than print advertising. That theory has, alas, been pretty well destroyed by the last 10 years. Advertisers still won't pay print rates for digital. Worse, the money that does get spent on digital advertising increasingly isn't going to news outlets; it's going to Google and Facebook and Yahoo… Digital ads simply have a lot of drawbacks that print didn't. For starters, people either hate or ignore them; the more you try to get their attention, the angrier they get.”


The Guardian reports that newspapers are searching for ways to survive the digital revolution. The newspaper refers to how much of the traditional media is considered to be several years behind in the digital revolution, still experimenting with paywalls, digital technologies and alternative means of storytelling. And Roy Greenslade, in his blog for the Guardian, referring to the third annual digital news report published by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, states how traditional news outlets are facing a new wave of disruption as the digital revolution sweeps on. The report, in pointing to new threats to traditional news sources, identifies the smartphone and social media as the most powerful agents of change. Greenslade says while some news organisations are being outpaced by the speed of change, others show signs of rising to the challenge. And rising to the challenge, it seems, is the UK’s Telegraph Media Group, which has announced the creation of 40 new editorial jobs, some of them focused on innovation in digital journalism and expansion of the digital design team. 

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