Publish or perish: how newsprint and digital platforms must work together

George Nimeh
George Nimeh

It's tough being in print in an ever-more digital world. At the 64th World Newspaper Congress, in Kiev last week, the world's press gathered to discuss the situation and explore the future.

The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers represents more than 18,000 publications, 15,000 websites and 3000 companies in more than 120 countries.64th World Newspaper Congress, Kiev

Last week, I was in Kiev to speak at its 64th World Newspaper Congress. Like most industries, the media business has been heavily affected by the development of digital technology, and there are still more problems than solutions.

Let's look at a few areas of the news business that are being hit hard by technology, and the implications for marketers, regardless of sector of activity.

Product

Nowhere is the impact of digital being felt more by newspapers than on their core product: the news. Delivering daily news in print is no longer a viable long-term activity. By the time it is printed and delivered, the news is ... well, old.

As a result, printed newspapers are moving away from reporting on breaking news to focus on analysis and interpretation in their fight for survival.

How has technology affected your product? Are you holding on to the hope that if you keep doing the same thing, the situation will miraculously improve? Is your core product and its USP valid in the digital age?

Distribution

For print, one of the main costs is distribution. As there is little to no incremental cost to deliver additional digital product, technology makes it simple and effective to scale distribution.

The Huffington Post has become a popular media destination. Not having the distribution costs associated with print (along with the fact that it aggregates quite a lot of content from other sources) makes it a lean organisation and highly competitive with traditional media.

Could you gain efficiency by better use of digital distribution? Are parts of your business being attacked by highly efficient digital-only competitors? How will this develop over the next six years, and what are you doing about it today?

Social media

Traditionally, newspapers are a top-down business - an incredibly hierarchical structure, with the publisher, editor-in-chief, managing editor and other editors deciding what's important news and what's not.

Today, the homepage is becoming less relevant, as people find news via links sent by friends, aggregators and curated sources, and social media. You should forget about your homepage and focus on the individual content pages users are finding by other means.

Do you have a social-media strategy, and are you investing in it? Is your business so hierarchical that you are unable to take advantage of the groundswell of people eager to participate and help your business grow?

George Nimeh, aka @iboy, is a digital consultant

IN ACTION

Three companies exploring the future of news.

LayarLayar Creator

Amsterdam's Layar allows people to add digital content to print media via augmented reality. The Layar Creator is a self-service web application for activating print pages with digital AR content by infusing static pages with interactive experiences.

KooabaKooaba

Swiss start-up kooaba is also bridging the gap between print and online content using AR. Users of its mobile apps take a snapshot of print ads, DVD and book covers, movie posters and physical goods to derive product information, best prices, coupons or other extras.

StorifyStorify

Launched in 2010, Storify is a website that creates and preserves stories or timelines using social media such as Twitter, photos and videos. Users collect content to publish as stories that can be embedded anywhere.

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