“Aagh, it’s the attack of the snails!” is how Kevin Anderson, digital research editor at the Guardian described the news industry’s reaction to revenue destroying online technology – just what were publishers doing in the mid-90s when the web was first growing, he asked.
Anderson, who describes himself as a digital native since the web’s earliest days, joined a panel of fellow digital enthusiasts at the Frontline Club last night to discuss the dreaded ‘future of journalism’ question: RBI’s head of editorial development, Karl Schneider; Peter Kirwan, media columnist; and Ilicco Elia, head of mobile at Reuters Consumer Media.
Kirwan commented how few of the audience actually paid for news. Anderson also played the sceptical card, pointing out how the Guardian was looking to Guardian Professional and events for alternative funding streams.
Anderson also flagged up the potential for social enterprise type start-ups and collaborative working groups, such as ‘newsroom’ cafes in the Czech Republic.
Karl Schneider – who talked about the value of journalism in providing specific business services – said that 60 per cent of RBI’s revenue comes from online. The industry was “too negative” about the scope for digital advertising, he added.
But the most practical tips of the night came from Ilicco Elia, in our breakout groups: if you’ve got a website, build a mobile site. Don’t make it complicated, make it as simple as possible. (If you want pointers, he’ll no doubt be happy to help point you in the right direction: he’s @ilicco on Twitter.)
The crowd was as good value as the panel, with many of Journalism.co.uk’s favourite media bloggers: organiser Patrick Smith; Adam Tinworth from RBI; Kate Day, head of communities at the Telegraph; Martin Stabe, online editor at Retail Week; and Jon Slattery… of the Jon Slattery Blog.
Excitingly we also had chance to spot the newbie Guardian beat bloggers (who later headed off for dinner with Guardian Local mentor/boss Sarah Hartley and new colleague Kevin Anderson): Hannah Waldram (Cardiff); John Baron (Leeds) and Tom Allan (Edinburgh).
Those interested in continuing the discussion should check out the UK Future of News Group – and its regional nests, springing up over the UK (Brighton, South Wales and West Midlands, so far).