Monday, 26 January 2009

'Innovation is the salvation for news in the post newspaper future': Jeff Jarvis

Jeff Jarvis in MediaGuardian today reveals that he is beginning work on a university project to discover frameworks for what comes after the newspapers "that will die in cities" and will be examining hyperlocal networks; national networks and new revenue streams.
This work follows a summit on business models for news that he organised at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism involving 100 editorial and publishing executives, entrepreneurs, technologists and financiers.
Jarvis writes: "The ideas were radical by the standards of our industry. Edward Roussel, head of digital at the Telegraph Media Group, and Dave Morgan, founder of the ad network Tacoda, argued that newspapers should be disaggregated, spinning off or outsourcing production, distribution, technology, and even ad sales. The most popular PowerPoint slide of the day was Roussel's, showing that 60% of the cost structure of papers is production and distribution - which are ultimately unnecessary in the digital age."
Unfortunately, Jarvis says: "The revenue group found no magic pill to solve journalism's problems ." But one idea was that "journalism's business and revenue, like its content, will become collaborative and networked. No one company will control news in a market any more; none can afford to."
Jarvis says starkly: "The question is: how much time is left? The Paper Cuts blog counted 15,554 redundancies in American newspapers alone last year, and at the summit, no one protested when it was said that papers' costs are still too high. Over-leveraged newspaper companies are facing ever-more-imminent bankruptcy in the UK - and the US media blogger Alan Mutter calculated that operating profits of a dozen top US newspaper companies fell in the third quarter by an apocalyptic 198%."
But he says there is hope: "I also invited 10 entrepreneurs and practitioners of new models to inspire the crowd with their fresh thinking on aggregation, linking, ad and content networks, and news video. One young founder, David Cohn, showed, a platform to enable readers to support reporters on stories, and soon he had investors and big-company executives shoving business cards into his pocket. The point: it is possible to innovate in news. Innovation will be our salvation."
It was the view of many of the speakers at the NUJ's Jobs Summit in London on Saturday that the big corporate newspaper owners do not hold the solution to the newspaper industry's problems and that new business models will have to replace them. (See posting below)

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