By Dean Roper, Editor-in-Chief
This month’s cover definitely strays from our standard cover. And it was an easy call.
Typically, we reserve our cover story in the first issue of a new year for a business strategy profile, featuring a prominent news publisher and his/her activities. Although the events of 7 January in Paris are already more than a month behind us, this tragedy brought solidarity and unity to this industry that, no matter how short-lived, is worth reflecting on here.
Telegraaf Media Groep (TMG) in the Netherlands has been ahead of the curve in embracing programmatic advertising. Since the group started with programmatic in 2009, 50 percent of TMG’s online ad revenue has moved into the programmatic space, says Martin van der Meij, Head of Revenue Development at TMG, in our soon-to-be-published WAN-IFRA Report, “The Impact of Programmatic Advertising.”
Will 2015 see native advertising become the breakthrough revenue model for online news media? Are print sales going to stabilize? Media leaders and leading observers from six regions around the world provide their insights. The series of interviews provides a global perspective on trends and illustrates the diversity of developments in the news publishing industry worldwide.
After three intense days of our Study Tour to San Francisco (“Strictly digital – the new content kings,” 24-26 November), the West Coast view of original news content seems brutally clear: News is a loss leader, and real investigative journalism can be funded only by donations. Our visits to Pando, Bloomberg, Mother Jones, Beacon and Google News all reinforced that perspective in different ways.
Two nationwide advertising sales initiatives, one in Australia and the other in the U.K., were launched in the last weeks of 2014 with the goal of making it easier for agencies to buy ads from newspaper publishers. In Australia, the regional industry association The Newspaper Works opened its “Bid on Print” platform, which the group describes as “a private exchange focused on the purchase of advertising in print newspapers. Bid on Print provides direct access to publication inventory, circulation and readership comparisons and a simplified purchase process.”
In recent weeks we have seen an outpouring of support – moral, physical and financial – for French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo. In the aftermath of the horrific tragedy in which 12 people at the paper (eight of them journalists) lost their lives, there are many questions – and equally, many answers – that have sparked deep debate as the world attempts to process this latest attack on journalism and media freedom. In this article, WAN-IFRA Director of Press Freedom Andrew Heslop examines some of the issues that have been thrust to the forefront.
Publications such as Reuters, the Chicago Sun-Times, tech site Re/code and Popular Science have all turned off the commenting systems on their news sites. The task of moderating the hundreds of uncivil comments that plague comment threads is making news sites reconsider their value. With more and more sites turning towards social media for reader contribution, Ashleigh Tullis of WAN-IFRA's World Editors Forum reports on the future of online comments.
Investment and development
Each year, WAN-IFRA awards the Golden Pen of Freedom to recognise the outstanding action, in writing or deed, of an individual, a group or an institution in the cause of press freedom. The award is traditionally presented during the opening ceremony of the World Newspaper Congress, which this year will take place in Washington, D.C., 1-3 June. Behind the ceremony and the award, the lives of the laureates are ones of extraordinary personal courage and self-sacrifice, with stories of imprisonment, beatings, bombings, censorship, exile and murder.
Letting teenagers take over your news operation for a day can be good for you, as several editors have found in the wake of doing just that. “The goal of this approach was not as a public relations stunt, but to point out that teenagers are more capable than is often believed, and to help begin a twoway discussion of the news,” says Dr. Aralynn McMane, WAN-IFRA Executive Director for Youth Engagement and News Literacy and the author of this article.
Mobile audience has overtaken desktop audience at the majority of European and North American publishers, and it has begun to represent a significant portion of revenues in not only pure-play companies like Facebook and Twitter but at some leading media companies as well. I’ve spent the last 10 years driving digital and technology change for a media company in the USA, and I’d like to share how you can meet the transformative challenges 2015 has in store.
Ben Shaw is Director of Global Advisory for WAN-IFRA. Global Advisory is focused on providing directly useful and pragmatic guidance on transforming news media businesses and growing digital audience and revenues.
Kiosko y más is the largest publishing alliance in Europe. Three years ago it created a platform with 13 editorial groups and 90 publications, led by the top Spanish media groups, Vocento and Prisa, to jointly sell enriched digital replicas of newspapers and magazines. Today Kiosko y más includes more than 95 publishing houses – including some in Latin America – and 450 publications. In 2014, subscriptions via the platform grew by an average of 30 percent per publisher. The alliance reached nominal profitability a bit over a year ago, but as a byproduct of earning money for the participating companies.