“Is Google Glass going to take off? Do you really think everyone will want to wear those ridiculous glasses?”
The grey-suited executive who asked me the question was in his early 50s and had 30 years of print experience, man and boy. It was true: He would look ridiculous in his suit wearing Google Glasses.
But across the way in the Googleplex, skinny-jeaned tech heads with shoulder bags, riding scooters, were inventing the future. On them, the look is pretty cool.
So I pointed out that hyper-colour T-shirts, bubble skirts, and mullet hairstyles were all really bad fashion statements. But we had loved them. And none of them connected us to the Internet as we walked down the street. So, yeah, I reckoned it was a technology we needed a strategy for.
But the precursor to Glass is a new breed of mobile apps that are here now. And because you can keep your mobile in your pocket, there is no need for us to feel obliged to go all Coco Chanel (let’s be honest – we’d never pull it off).
All three of these apps use a new technology that recognises your location and doesn’t just show you where you are, but connects you to things of interest, or people of interest, and helps you learn something new.
On the face of it, several are freaky in a “could be used by weird stalker and result in a tabloid headline” kind of way. But look past that and they become completely cool with enormous potential for news companies....[more]
16 September 2013 · By Kylie Davis
“Emotional. Bossy. Too Nice. The biases that still hold female leaders back – and how to overcome them.”
The headline on the cover of the September Harvard Business Review – like all good headlines – incited me to rage. Why, I fumed, are the stereotypes associated with “female styles” of management still seen as different, other, wrong, and in desperate need of being “overcome?”
The headline hit a nerve. Earlier in the week at the Future Forum conference for The Newspaperworks in Sydney, the four male CEOs of the Australian and New Zealand newspaper industry sat on stage together and admitted – somewhat sheepishly – that while there were lots of women in their organisations, none were at a level where they were likely to take over the top chair any time soon.
And that was rather a shame, but hey, what could you do? It wasn’t their fault. They loved women!
“C’mon, babe,” said my husband upon witnessing my reaction to the HBR headline. “You’ve got to admit it – that’s exactly what you’re all like!”
After more than 20 years together, he knows exactly how to push all my buttons.
There was a prolonged and intense period of spousal shouting, which we both thoroughly enjoyed. During the spat, he claimed I was proving his point on the “emotional and bossy” front. I countered that the three male stereotypes should be “Aggressive. Political. Self Important,” which he was demonstrating in spades.
No one in public debate however, was arguing that these were obnoxious traits that needed to be “overcome” – rather they were clichéd male behaviours that regularly resulted in promotion in media.
At which point we both stopped for air....[more]
05 August 2013 · By Kylie Davis
I’m sick to death of reading about the death of print – with stories written like suicide notes and printed lemming-like in our own publications, from journalists who believe an extremist fervour for “editorial independence” gives them the right to self-destruct and take everyone else with them.
I’m sick of it, because I know it not to be true.
As a journalist who covers real estate, I’ve seen markets in good times, in bad times, in amazing times, and in catastrophic times. And when things are catastrophic, there is often a sense that down is the only way things will ever go.
But every market bottoms (or tops) out eventually. And it is how you behave after the market has bottomed that decides if you will cut your losses and angrily lament to anyone who will listen, do nothing ever again out of sheer terror of a potential future loss, or learn the lessons of the fall and prosper.
My belief is this: Print is not dead. Print has just bottomed out.
We’re never going to see it return to the giddy, heady days of pre-2007. And we really do need to keep working on a more sustainable digital model to support quality journalism (one that embraces editorial independence, but not editorial idiocy). Because this is where the bulk of our audience is now, and they are there in greater numbers than they ever were in print.
Digital should be our first focus. Print no longer holds the monopoly on being the first source for information, or the fastest, or the only way to get a message out.
But print does still have a purpose. It’s a purpose that is different to the one it held originally, but that doesn’t make it any less valid.
For the print market to pick up, however, it needs to embrace this new USP. We need to start marketing the new uses for print and stop wringing our hands at the loss of the old.
What is that new purpose? We need to look at the data.
In my area of real estate in Australia, it’s true that the bulk of the dollars in advertising have gone online. As News Corporation Australia owns more than 60% of the country’s biggest online property site – realestate.com.au – we’re OK with that.
But over past years, the best real estate agents in the country have been getting angry at us. As more of their business moved online, they have found it harder and harder to stand out from the crowd.
It’s difficult, if not impossible, to brand yourself as an agent above all others – on a property listing site. Everyone is trying to do the same thing.
ot dead. Print has just bottomed out....[more]
24 June 2013 · By Kylie Davis
Too much of what is claimed to be “data journalism” in today’s media is really just ego-driven “data porn” — pretty pictures created around numbers with no real reader value, according to an international “data guru” with strong journalism credentials.
Justin Arenstein, the chief strategist and Knight International Fellow at the International Center for Journalists in South Africa, told the World Editors Forum in Bangkok that news companies needed to stop trying to “get into” data journalism.
Instead, they should ask themselves how good storytelling can be aided by data.
“New tools don’t replace traditional journalism,” Arenstein told a captivated audience, as he took them through a three-hour data workshop that felt like three minutes.
Data journalism is “no longer just entertainment and no longer just voyeurism but creating decision-making tools based on news reporting.”...[more]
06 May 2013 · By Kylie Davis
P.J. Pereira told news executives at the INMA World Congress last week they had to “bring sexy back to newspapers.”
But how does an industry — one that traditionally has had a reputation for dancing like an elderly uncle with too many drinks under his belt at a family wedding — start busting a move like Timberlake or Beyoncé?
Below is a summary of the tweets and grabs that came out of the conference. Individually they made great headlines; but re-organised, they give us a great playbook for how we should be getting it on.
First of all, we need to recognise: “The future is here. It just isn’t evenly distributed.” (Rob Grimshaw, Financial Times)
And that’s because “You can’t run a $30 newsroom in a $2 world.” (Lewis D’Vorkin, Forbes Media)
Arianna Huffington (Huffington Post) touched on the fundamental shift saying we need to “Stop behaving like Mount Olympus” because it’s “all about participation, not presentation.”...[more]
01 April 2013 · By Kylie Davis
Editors have long held godlike positions in newsrooms. They are the omnipotent leaders whose authority is absolute, whose power to control and drive the delivery of news must be obeyed, and whose personal style and taste is reflected in story choices, opinion pieces, and the tone and colour of everything we produce.
Even today, back-benchers second-guess their whims, and reporters quake at sentences that start with “The boss ...”
This command-and-control structure has served newspapers well for decades. It provided the military precision necessary to successfully manufacture print day after day.
But it is a model that we now need to admit should be dead. And, indeed, our failure to kill it off for good is the source of so many of the ills now holding us back from real transformation.
No one can be personally responsible for every element of modern news delivery over so many platforms. Likewise, no individual reporter can cope with a conflicting list of instructions from multiple editors at the top who all think — by virtue of their titles — that their needs and authority mean their tasks should be prioritised immediately.
There is currently an extraordinary amount of tension and conflict in newsrooms. It is being blamed on transformation, which in many offices is being conducted like trench warfare. It is sad because it is unnecessary.
Since the 1980s (and even earlier), business thinking around what constitutes excellence in leadership and strong management has changed dramatically, as business structures have transformed in nearly every industry.
The skills we value in newsrooms, however, have not kept pace.
In a world of matrixes rather than silos, editors need to ask themselves, “What are the skills I need to lead in this new world?” We don’t have to invent them; there are perfectly good wheels already out there....[more]
25 February 2013 · By Kylie Davis
In the heat of a pitched newsroom debate, a former colleague once labeled me a “commercial whore” because I had dared to champion a project to save a weekly newspaper section from death.
I had asked its advertisers, who were leaving in droves, what changes we would need to initiate to give them confidence in the section again. I asked what content they might like to see and if — or how — they could see themselves participating in that content.
My colleague was adamant that my dangerous ideas would lead to the end of quality journalism as we knew it. “It is not the role of editors to worry about advertisers and revenue,” the colleague thundered.
My response was we already HAD reached the end of quality journalism as we knew it for this part of the newspaper. The section would be killed in less than a week — a legacy of arrogant editorial decisions and misguided content — unless we could come up with a way to restore confidence in its content from its advertiser base.
This did not mean we would simply publish everything advertisers wanted, but that we would use our editorial skills to marry their objective to be part of the section with some of our content planning, to create an engaged environment for both readers and commercial supporters.
“Editors who refuse to understand the commercial imperatives of advertisers and revenue will preside over redundancies in newsrooms,” I retorted. “I know what kind of editor I’d rather be!”
And, upon that, I spun on my heel and fled to the ladies’ room to sob for an hour before giving the sales presentation of my life — ironically, the one that did save the section.
It went on to publish for another three years before returning to its old ways, and recently closed. My colleague’s career likewise continued to ascend, with that individual presiding over some of the biggest newsroom redundancies in the country, including the colleague’s career itself.
The inability of too many senior editors to understand the importance of content engagement with our commercial partners still saddens me enormously, but there is no more time for tears. I am not crying wolf when I shout, “Wake up, people!”
A new competitor has arrived in town to further erode the revenue of newspaper companies. And like the searchable classified Web sites we dismissed 10 years or so ago, while we focused on the “real” issue of what our traditional print competitor was doing, this new competitor is going to take us by surprise and rip a major revenue stream from us unless we wise up right now.
Because our new competitors are actually our advertising clients....[more]
21 January 2013 · By Kylie Davis
“Why didn’t newspapers invent Facebook?” was a question that sparked widespread debate, both in the real world and on social media, at the 2011 INMA World Congress in New York.
Responses included that newspaper thinking was too slow, not innovative and entrepreneurial enough. That we weren’t prepared to try and fail. That senior management didn’t “get” it.
Our criteria for success was too rigid and out of date. And, alternatively, that there was “too much” innovation out there that was bamboozling and no proven way to know where to place your bets.
It is a question that has stuck with me ever since. Two years down the track, I still cannot see any compelling evidence that we as an industry really understand the criteria we should be using to assess new concepts — or even some of the old ones — that so successfully have cut our lunch.
Instead, we are still overwhelmingly looking for the next holy grail that will “fix” newspapers or grow or return or hold audiences to our publications, Internet, or mobile sites.
We are continuing to labour under the belief that writing, producing, and curating beautiful and compelling content is fundamentally enough, and the new media options just provide us with more ways to promote, distribute, and create it more efficiently — and occasionally reply or chat to readers. And advertisers should stick with us while we do that.
But, actually, it is our views on publishing that are broken. It’s not that this view is wrong — it’s just no longer the full picture.
The urgency is now upon us to recognise there is a whole new world of publishing out there in the form of innovative start-ups. And they’re inventing apps and technologies that fulfill the old newspaper criteria of connecting audiences, proclaiming and advocating on behalf of issues, and creating new efficiencies and services for readers and businesses.
As they do this, some of them even create content. Alert! Alert!!
So how should we be assessing new start-ups and deciding if they are right for us? By turning our criteria upside down and asking not which ones create content and could be a threat to journalism.
Instead, we should be asking which ones fulfill the other essential role of publishers that we once owned exclusively, through audience connection, advocacy, and efficiency.
To that end, here is a list of new start-ups out there now that newspaper companies need to pay attention to now!
26 December 2012 · By Kylie Davis
We need to talk about our relationship. For months now, I’ve been unhappy. It’s not me, it’s you. You have changed.
When we first hooked up, I loved how you knew all my friends. It was great finding out about the lives of people from across my life, seeing photos of their partners, their homes, sharing again in their silliness and smart comments, and engaging with their view on the world.
So many people who just hadn’t changed at all — making witty ripostes, getting advice. It was just like they were in the next room.
I loved how I had access again to the lives of people I genuinely cared about, even though we didn’t have time to catch up physically. I loved that I have seen photos of weddings, new babies, and videos of shining moments in real time, while debating politics, mourning losses, and receiving birthday greetings from ex-boyfriends long lost and now forgiven.
And you helped me reconnect to colleagues and people whose company I had enjoyed, but for whom time and circumstance had moved us on before the friendship could flourish. You gave us a space to get to know each other better.
And because of you, I now have a close friendship with my husband’s cousin who lives on the other side of the world, and we’re closer than ever to his Mum, which was difficult due to distance. I’m really grateful for that.
I have loved the shared recipes, been surprised by article recommendations, loved the silly memes, the cheering up when I was gloomy or down, and the occasional game across continents.
But then it took a turn. You changed your algorithm.
Suddenly, the memes were not well-thought out or occasional; they were everywhere. Instead of beloved friends in my feed, it became crowded with over-sharers — the occasional acquaintances, who were the most prolific, while genuine friends got lost in the white noise.
Attempts to downgrade them changed nothing. My feed is now cluttered with people I care only vaguely about.
And then came the advertising....[more]
26 November 2012 · By Kylie Davis
I am waging war against bad commercial content.
For the past 10 years, I have sought to cajole, enthuse, encourage, harass, and motivate the editorial teams I’ve led, to ensure that everything we do that involves a client is creative, of great quality and aligned to good news values, by being genuinely interesting and informative. Even, and especially, when that required some passionate conversations with clients.
But not everyone takes the same approach.
Many believe that, because a client controls the money, the way to do commercial content is to just give them what they say they want. The results are frequently dreary, painful, and an affront to intelligence. They also don’t work. And then clients get cranky and blame the medium, rather than their poor message.
It has to stop. There is enough dross parading as content in this current age without professional creatives — including journalists — selling out their talent because a marketing team is all hot and bothered about the desire to create an online viral campaign.
A case in point, I believe, are airline flight safety videos.
As Australia’s major airline, Qantas has been a sponsor of the Australian Olympic team and now the Australian cricket team. Clearly, someone in marketing decided that, given the size of their investment, they needed to leverage these dollars and do more.
With content creation the latest fad, they incorporated the Olympic team into the safety briefing, with a delivery awash with bad sporting cliches and jingoism. Servicing sponsors to this extent did not pay off for the Aussie Olympic team; many of the stars of the video failed to perform as expected in London.
I thought it was truly awful. And, with a busy travel schedule, I resented each time the video appeared and I was forced to watch it while captive in my airline seat. Then the Australian cricket team version appeared. I hate it even more.
To its sins of bad sporting cliches and jingoism, add sycophantic hero worship and faked laughter to appallingly bad jokes. My safety is actively compromised because I simply cannot watch it. And, unsurprisingly, it has not gone viral....[more]