Monday, April 27, 2015

Newspapers the new digital challenges

The digital landscape moves on at a terrific speed. What seemed obvious two years ago for newspapers editors does not work anymore to day. Here are some tips on 2015 situation.

The major role of social networks. For a long time, it made common sense that the homepage of news websites was all important. Journalists and tehnicians devoted a lot of time and thought to their improvement. It is not true anymore. Now, more of 50% of users access to information through the social networks and mostly Facebook. The Web giant is discussing with the N Y Times to g provide directly the news of the Grey Lady. Others will follow in the US and in Europe. Facebook could become the main news provider without hiring any journalist.

The dominance of smartphones. When the tablet was launched by Apple, five years ago all news editors were convinced they had found the magic formula to offer their content in a user friendly device. Paid subscription to newspapers read on I Pad was the solution. To day, it appears that the smartphone has won. A great majority of readers under 40 prefer to browse on the small screen of their phones , so light and easy to carry. Once again, Facebook has understood earlier what was happening and attracted most of the readership and advertising.

The success of paywalls. News websites have thought hard and much too long to attract ads. It appears now that contrary to what made legacy media so profitable a long time ago, advertising will play a minor part in the financing of news and for two reasons. First, Google and the social networks attract most of the cash through their gigantic audiences. Then the small screens of smartphones are not attractive to advertising. The main anglo saxon media, the NY Times, the FT, the WSJ have built up a profitable subscription system with big figures, 900000 subscribers for the NYT, 800000 for the two others.  For getting a quality news service, people will have to pay.

Last but not least, pure players are offering successful alternatives to legacy media websites. Think of Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, Vice, Quartz and also Politico. In France, Mediapart is thriving. Ther will be other players in a crowded field. The battle for information is not over.