Not long ago, Jan-Eric Peters and Carsten Erdmann — the young editors-in-chief of two leading German newspapers, Die Welt and Berliner Morgenpost — visited The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal to see how the Americans are doing their job in the newsroom.
It wasn’t easy to get an appointment there.
More and more journalists, even editors-in-chief, now travel around the world looking for the one solution to ready their newsrooms for future challenges. The questions they ask are always the same:
- How to integrate the online part in the print workflow?
- What about video, Twitter, and Facebook?
- What kind of education is needed to help the elder journalists work in this changing environment?
- Is there any hope to survive?
Whatever they see, they don’t find what they’re looking for. Because there is no one and only solution to organise the workflow of news. The best you can expect to find are ideas to modernise the newsroom at home.
That’s the entrepreneurial approach of running a newspaper: to see the status quo as just a step to the next improvement. “Online first” and “mobile first” are phrases for marketing guys and have nothing to do what happens where the content is produced.
Ten years ago, journalists from all over the world traveled to Berlin to study the then-state-of-the-art newsroom of Die Welt, which had recently undertaken a big innovative step.
Five years later, the newsroom worked in the same way because people thought anything would still work as fine as initially planned. They didn’t re-evaluate the workflow or compare their processes with that of other newsrooms.
In terms of digital change, the newsroom is ahead of competition again. I describe this approach in my book, “The Heart of a Morning Paper Beats Online.”
But how can you change?
Let’s have a look what happened in 2009. Die Welt, a national daily that first appeared in 1946 and was taken over by Axel Springer in 1953, appears Monday through Saturday. In 2009, in conjunction with its smaller format version, Welt Kompakt, Die Welt had an average circulation of 266,140 copies sold and readership of 670,000. It sold at €1.70 on weekdays and €2 on Saturdays.
In 2009, then Editor-in-Chief Thomas Schmid was responsible for Welt Kompakt, the Sunday newspaper (Welt am Sonntag), and Welt Online (www.welt.de). Welt Online had coverage of 3.3 million unique visitors in 2009. Among German quality newspapers, Die Welt competed with Süddeutsche Zeitung and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
Comparison with the observed reality in the newsroom
Close inspection via on-site visit revealed that, in the case of Die Welt, one editorial team operated both media channels, print and online. The bulk of the print content was simply put online with at best marginal alterations.
Channel-specific enhancement happened to a low degree, usually via galleries or polls. Headlines were adapted for search engine purposes. There was no provision for target group-oriented enhancement of content. Licensed content material from third-party suppliers — for instance, from news agencies — was used in cost-efficient ways.
It followed from this set-up that the technical integration of print and online in a single content management system was not viewed as of paramount importance. Fault lines between print and online were bilaterally condoned....[more]
05 March 2013 · by Pit Gottschalk
In the 2009 political thriller film, “State of Play,” Russell Crowe plays Cal MacAffrey, an old-fashioned but honest hero of journalism.
When a scandal is revealed, MacAffrey is committed to the truth and not to his friendship with a politician. He works passionately on his story, discovering detail after detail. He is not approachable for any kind of benefits offered, while spending as much time as he can on this one and only story for his newspaper.
From the digital point of view, he’s wasting both time and money.
How many stories could Russell Crowe as Cal MacAffrey have written in the same period of time? At least 20 within two weeks. And they would have been keyword-related and optimised for search engines. Easy to consume and perfectly linked to offerings the company can make money with.
A journalistic investigation doesn’t really contribute to the chief financial officer’s profit and loss account, just to the marketing guys focused on the reputation of the newspaper’s brand.
These issues go far beyond any thoughts on paid content, as I explained in a recent blog post. It’s all about newsroom organisation....[more]
07 January 2013 · by Pit Gottschalk
Built as a Web site about efforts in social media, Mashable.com is one the most important sources to see what could have an impact on media companies’ businesses and audiences.
Its founder and CEO, Pete Cashmore, doesn’t have just a very promising name, but he has a Twitter community of 3.1 million followers who give him quick feedback after revealing trends and insights. A few days ago, backed by this database, Cashmore dared a 2013 outlook and delivered his four rules for this year.
Here we go:
- Mobile first, not desktop.
- Social first, not search.
- Visuals matter.
- Ads are content, too.
Assuming these four rules are true, we have to rethink some issues in the news media industry....[more]
02 December 2012 · by Pit Gottschalk
OK, let’s start this new blog on INMA.org with a provocative question: Are we, senior media executives from all over the world, too old or too established to help transform our companies to cover the digital challenges? Or does our experience make us best-suited to lead the charge?
Before you answer, let me tell you a short story about something we experienced in our company two years ago.
Jeff Jarvis, ambassador of entrepreneurial journalism for City University of New York, visited our academy students to talk with them about digital projects they had started some days before.
He was thrilled by the products presented to him, including a social media Web site that provided user-generated news from South Africa and outperformed traditional news sites in both quality and speed.
Jeff Jarvis really loved the idea behind this site, but then asked an important question: “How will you earn money to refinance this project?” He heard answers we already know very well:
- “Earning money isn’t the job of journalists.”
- “Some other guys are in charge of this.”
- “See the quality of the product, not the money.”
- “The content is king.”
- “People must like this.”
The students were between 20 and 30 years old. Among these digital natives, none had an entrepreneurial kind of approach to what the group was working on.
To be clear: All of them will become great journalists and already can explain any sentence in any story worth reading. But, none could show how much his work was worth to the customer or audience....[more]