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#wef11: ‘Newspapers need to work out what makes them unique and invest in it’

October 14th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Events, Newspapers

At the World Editors Forum in Vienna today there was a session which asked the question: what content should print newspapers focus on in order to survive and thrive?

Members of the panel shared a number of examples of the content which has worked for them, including special editions, building platforms for discussion and greater use of visualisation to explain complicated images.

But the overriding message was for newspapers to know what makes them unique and invest in this content, as outlined in detail by Han Fook Kwang, editor of the Straits Times in Singapore.

While other news outlets are cutting foreign correspondents, the Straits Times did the opposite.

We decided to invest heavily in our foreign correspondents and our ambition is to be the best English-language newspaper covering Asia. We believe we’re uniquely placed to do that.

You need to be clear about your focus and invest resources in it.

He also reiterated the point that in keeping this focus journalists must also make sure they fulfil their basic duty to make sense of the news.

You need to write stories in way readers understand and how it impacts their lives. We struggle with this every day when we report stories out of Europe.

Some papers do this very well. The Financial Times does a terrific job, not just in reporting but commentating, analysing and explaining to readers the complexity of issues.

There is a great opportunity. The world is a much more complex place. There are many issues that affect readers and newspapers should try to capitalise on it but they have to do it well.

In an age when there is instant communication, when everyone wants to be the first, preferably in 140 characters or less, newspapers also need to go back to core skills, to what they do well.

I don’t think newspapers are best are putting out news the minute it happens but we’re great storytellers and the reason why is because we have the tradition and resources to do this. In summary we should focus on good journalism, that hasn’t changed, but to do this you have to invest in good journalists. This starts from knowing your readers well and knowing what you mean to your users and what you represent to them.

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#AOPsummit: B2B media and the value of communities

October 15th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Business, Events, Niche

Make a connection with your audience and harness the power of focused communities around your niche, media groups advised publishers during a panel discussion on how B2B publications can benefit from and offer value to their readers.

John Barnes MD of digital at Incisive Media said B2B publishers have to understand who their audiences are.

It’s about identifying a type of focused audience … and understanding what the role, function, value and importance of that individual is so we can sell that focus to advertisers. We have lost sight of that in some of the market as we have been chasing eyeballs instead.

He added that the way forward with this thinking is to create an environment where “it is the most natural thing in the world to hand over details”.

It’s about having the environment to encourage sharing … if we haven’t got that we haven’t got a media business.

Mike Butcher, editor of TechCrunch Europe which was recently bought by AOL, added that the chase for communities is historical in the publishing industry.

We didn’t chase registrations, what we chased was communities. If you look at what publishers have done historically … in the first instance it was to chase communities. They didn’t necessarily have data about them but they chased them and enlightened those communities.

In fact he said TechCrunch’s focused community was key to its value for AOL: “it was bought for this high value community”.

Tim Potter, managing director of business publishing at Centaur Media added that community focused platforms such as blogs when used within media brands will encourage high interaction.

If you give people blogging tools within our existing media brands  you get a very high level of interaction, even in markets where you wouldn’t expect it … it will take a lot for a blog to come along and challenge established media brands providing they do the right things.

But as long as the publisher continues to provide informed content, he added, it will remain “central to the debate”.

Kevin Eyres, managing director for LinkedIn Europe added that the value of the individual must also be remembered by brands.

It’s about not losing sight of humans. When you’re talking about B2B it’s a business person purchasing from another business person. Companies are leveraging their best assets – their employees – to make that more personal connection back and forth with whoever that purchaser is going to be.

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Next Generation Journalist: how to make hyperlocal work

May 19th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Business, Hyperlocal, Niche

This series of 10 moneymaking tips for journalists began on Adam Westbrook’s blog, but continues exclusively on Journalism.co.uk from today. Adam’s e-book, Next Generation Journalist: 10 New Ways to Make Money in Journalism will be available to download in full on 20 May.

08. set up a hyperlocal website

OK, so setting up a hyperlocal blog is hardly a new way to do things in journalism. But making money from it is pretty new and, seemingly, still pretty rare.

In the UK for example, only a handful of hyperlocal blogs, such as Ventor Blog, SR2 and SE1 are getting the sorts of eyeballs and ad revenue to make a living.

Thing is, hyperlocal is an important and (if done correctly) profitable niche for the next generation journalist; we’re just not going about it right.

Setting up a blog, writing loads of local content and hoping to bring in local ad revenue alone is a tough gig. At first you’re unlikely to get the hits you need to bring in enough cash. Google Adwords is becoming something of a byword for false promises of cash among website owners.

If you want to maximise your advertising revenue, a product like Addiply is a really good bet, and is it seems to be bringing in better results for those who use it on a local level. Advertisers could expect to pay around £30 a month, although it varies from site to site.

But I really think for a hyperlocal website to work – in fact, for any web based content product to work – the ultimate aim must be to make ad revenue as small a slice of the pie as possible.

The less your business relies on ad revenue, the less vulnerable you are to the inevitable ups and downs of the market.

Other ways to make hyperlocal work

Have a look at yesterday’s post on my blog, where I talk about a local news success story – thebusinessdesk.com.  Set up by David Parkin, it now has three regional business sites in Yorkshire, the North-West and Birmingham.

Parkin told last week’s Local Heroes Conference he expects to turnover £1 million this year.

Where does the money come from? Ad revenue yes, but that’s only a part of it. Firstly, thebusinessdesk.com has a niche (local financial news) and a wealthy target audience (business people).

It has a mailing list of 37,000 subscribers who get a daily email of business news, which is sponsored. They have an iPhone app and run events.

It’s a successful model – and one which needs to be employed by hyperlocal bloggers. Don’t just process listings, and re-write press releases; become a major part of your community. Become a leader in your community.

Be the voice for those whose voices don’t get heard. Run regular events so you can meet readers face-to-face. Run pub quizzes and pocket the profits.  Sell products, take a slice of restaurant bookings through your website, charge for listings. Don’t just maintain a website – build a mailing list and send them news direct to their inbox. Get that mailing list sponsored by local businesses.

If you’ve got any good stories about how you’re making hyperlocal work, I’d love to hear them.

Interested in niche and hyperlocal? Looking for new ideas for specialist journalism? Attend Journalism.co.uk’s upcoming event: news:rewired – the nouveau niche. Follow the link to find out more.

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Next generation journalist: make no new content!

May 18th, 2010 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Business, Online Journalism

This series of 10 moneymaking tips for journalists began on Adam Westbrook’s blog, but continues exclusively on Journalism.co.uk from today. Adam’s e-book, Next Generation Journalist: 10 New Ways to Make Money in Journalism will be available to download in full on 20 May.

07. aggregate the news

If you get a chance, watch this short documentary by Kate Ray about web 3.0 – what might eventually follow what we now call Web 2.0.

In it, journalism professor Clay Shirky says this:

“If I was going to set up a news business tomorrow, it would be a business designed to create not one bit of content.”

Problem with the internet these days is that it’s too big. There’s too much stuff, thanks to all those pesky bloggers, flickr users, tweeters and facebookers. How do we find what we want among all the noise?

Cue a potentially profitable window for the Next Generation Journalist – aggregating, filtering, sorting, editing content for a particular group of people within a particular niche.

Some of the most popular news websites on the net do this very well already: sites like Mashable and TechCrunch (and of course Journalism.co.uk!) aggregate hundreds of articles every week, as well as adding their own, and make money in the process.

These three sites have something else in common, they all serve very particular niches, niches with new content flooding the internet everyday. There is a demand among the people within each niche for a collection of the best, the newest and the most interesting.

So here’s the business idea: you identify a profitable niche, with a well defined target audience, where the airwaves are constantly being filled with news, comment and analysis. You set up a site to aggregate this content, a process you can do yourself at first and eventually automate with software like Yahoo Pipes. You build a mailing list of subscribers, to whom you send a daily or weekly newsletter summing up the big stories, perhaps adding some editorial content too. Of course, your newsletter is sponsored, bringing in more cash.

From there, events, products, and a whole host of other tricks, all covered in Next Generation Journalist.

Aggregating the news….

  • solves a big problem within a defined target market – organising relevant information
  • if done well, can turn your website into the go-to place for news on a particular subject or issue
  • can eventually become a mostly automated service, freeing up time to pursue other projects, while still generating revenue

There’s just two days to go until the ebook goes in sale. If you’re signed up early, there’s a discount to be had…

Working in a niche or interested in doing so? Looking for new ideas for specialist journalism? Attend Journalism.co.uk’s upcoming event: news:rewired – the nouveau niche. Follow the link to find out more.

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Media Beat: Former Gawker managing editor talks niches and revenue streams

Dramatically named blogger and journalism entrepreneur Lockhart Steele has guested on mediabistro’s Media Beat video series in the last two days, with the last episode appearing later this afternoon. Steele began blogging around the beginning of the decade while working in magazines. He was recruited by Nick Denton as Gawker began to pick up traffic and later became managing editor of the site, seeing it expand from just a handful of editorial staff to around 150.

In the second installment of the Media Beat series, below, Steele discusses getting traffic through Twitter and Facebook, diversifying revenue streams online, and “looking for niches where we can be a little bit weird”.

Follow this link for the first installment, in which Steele discusses starting out in blogging and breaking away from Gawker to establish his own blogging network.

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