Thursday, 28 January 2010

Fear and foreboding about the future at the Frontline... and some reasons to be cheerful

There was fear at the Frontline Club in London tonight not from journalists setting out on dangerous foreign assignments but from those wondering how they are going earn enough money from the profession to pay the rent.
One of the speakers at the Club's networking event summed up the mood. Karl Schneider, editorial director of Reed Business Information, said: "There's a lot of fear. People are scared whether we are going to be able to fund the journalism that we love doing."
On the paywall issue, Schneider claimed: "There's not much confidence that we can charge."
Wired and Press Gazette columnist Peter Kirwan said of all the journalists he had talked to at the event only two paid for online editorial content (to the Wall Street Journal and a German newspaper).
He claimed the mood among journalists was one of uncertainty. "People just don't know where journalism is going."
Kevin Anderson, digital research editor at the Guardian, said he believed something more sophisticated would be developed by newspapers than simply imposing a universal paywall and said he believed there was "an exciting future for journalists".
There were some other reasons to be cheerful.
Schneider revealed that 60% of RBI revenues now came from online. He suggested that people were being "too negative about the scope for ads on digital" once we were out of recession.
Kirwan claimed readers were getting conditioned to paying for content, noting that Emap was doing very well from subscriptions across paywalls. He also said that Apple's just announced iPad offered "an interesting opportunity for magazine publishers."

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