Tag Archives: journalism’s next top model

#JNTM: Professor Robert Picard on why newspapers deserve to die

“Newspapers deserve to die,” Professor Robert Picard told delegates at the University of Wesminster / British Journalism Review Journalism’s Next Top Model conference this morning.

But that doesn’t mean he wants to see journalism die: it’s time to change the products and the platforms, he said. The future of journalism is dependent on journalists and other distribution platforms; not newspapers.

Picard, Hamrin Professor of Media Economics and director of the Media Management and Transformation Centre, at Jonkoping University in Sweden and fellow at the Reuters Institute in Oxford, claimed that print distribution is an expensive and inefficient way to spread news. “I think we’ll have paper for a while,” he said. For 20 years even, he guessed, but we’ll see more migration to screen.

He’s not at all nostalgic about news organisations’ bureaux spread out over the world, and says it’s time for newspapers to pool resources and become more efficient. As newspapers grew in the second half of the 20th century, they developed complex systems and bureaucracy, which has led to inefficiency, he said.

“You get very high overhead costs to support the corporations along the way, one of the big problems with success,” he said.

He encouraged news organisations to consider:

  • Smaller and more agile operations
  • A more entrepreneurial approach
  • More innovation in products and process
  • Alliances, networking and cooperation
  • Multiple sources of financial funding
  • Rethinking of entire business model of media and how it creates value for customers and itself

Something is wrong with the product, he said, when 40 per cent of public claim they don’t want to read the newspaper they used to read (source of stat not cited).

“I’ve been saying for 10 years – why in the world are newspaper printing stock tables?” It’s time to kill these, along with the television guides, he said, as consumers find with other ways of sourcing up-to-date information.

Stop simply reporting news and provide value to the consumer, he said. Consumer can get top ten headlines from internet services, so newspaper organisations have to provide something different than the “flow of information”.

Answering a question about the realities for newspapers, he speculated that while the Guardian is North America’s biggest news site (that it attracts the highest number of unique users in the region is a little known fact, he said), the newspaper itself (not the org, necessarily) is likely to die – along with the Independent. Newspapers don’t interest Picard at all – but saving journalism does.

Professor Picard recently sat on a panel between Arianna Huffington and Rupert Murdoch, who don’t like each other very much. Murdoch is saying we’ve got to save the business; Huffington is saying we have to destroy the business. Some place between Huffington and Murdoch’s realities is where we are, he said.

I spoke to Professor Picard afterwards. Here’s the clip:


#JNTM: Journalism’s Next Top Model event at University of Westminster (follow live)

The University of Westminster and British Journalism Review is hosting a two-day event (8/9 June) discussing Journalism’s Next Top Model – the industry discussion takes place tomorrow (Wednesday). Wifi access is limited, but the Cover It Live blog below should pick up some of the tweets coming out of the event. Westminster students from the event are due to update their blog at this link. The University plans to livestream some of the event at this link.

Update: It’s Day Two (Wednesday), and the keynote by Professor Robert Picard from the Reuters Institute at Oxford University is due to start soon. The University’s video live stream from the main room was working yesterday; follow it here.

University of Westminster gets ready to discuss ‘Journalism’s Next Top Model’

The University of Westminster has chosen a more upbeat theme for its 2010 journalism event. Whereas we discussed ‘journalism in crisis’ this time last year, delegates from around the world will gather next week to find ‘Journalism’s Next Top Model’, a conference held by Westminster’s department of journalism in association with the British Journalism Review.

News media all over the world are failing as the traditional revenue from advertising bleeds to the web. Free news websites are discouraging the young from buying newspapers. So who will pay for what sort of journalism in the future?

The academic-oriented discussions take place on Tuesday 8 June; including presentations by Francois Nel from the University of Central Lancashire; Rasmus Kleis Nielsen and David Levy from the Reuters Institute; and Professor Steven Barnett from University of Westminster, who will be joined by speakers from all over the world – Sweden, Turkey, Norway and Macedonia, for example.

On the Wednesday, industry panellists will include: Jane Moore (the Sun); Peter Oborne (the Mail/ Channel 4); Roger Parry (former chair, Johnston Press); William Perrin (activist and blogger); and Claire Enders (Enders Analysis).

The conference concludes with the presentation of the British Journalism Review’s Outstanding Contribution to Broadcast Journalism prize; and a memorial lecture by Boris Johnson.

The conference will take place 8 June 2010 – 9 June 2010 at 309 Regent Street, London W1. Registration is via this form (download at this link) and we’re told applications will still be accepted on Monday.