The news industry must find its place in an exponentially progressing world, according to INMA CEO Earl Wilkinson. The challenge is that the world is progressing to different places at divergent rates. However, the theme that is prevalent everywhere is finding a way to allow print and digital to live together in the news environment. This inclusion of digital media make it necessary for news companies to become brands along with nurturing and marketing that brand. Digital will become dominant in the near future, and this will cause news brands to reevaluate print. Revenue focus in the future needs to be on search advertising and content marketing, instead of on portfolio extensions. There are ten or more ways to fill the hole where print advertising used to be. The people of the news industry need to remember the love of great journalism, to move forward. These changes need to be made now in innovative ways.
“We’re becoming multimedia companies and we’re discovering that we have to go through an enormous culture change,” - Earl J. Wilkinson
“It was Ross McPherson though, who said, ‘You know, we’re neither a print industry nor a digital industry. This peculiar place we find ourselves in, in 2013 and in 2014, is clearly print plus digital.” - Earl J. Wilkinson
“Print/digital is starting to look like something familiar and comfortable. We’re starting to get comfortable in our own skin.” - Earl J. Wilkinson
“Traditionally, print newspaper circulation grows when there is a growing middle class and there is an aspirational middle class. What do you see in India, a growing middle class and an aspirational middle class. You see that in Brazil, you see that in other countries. What do you see in the United States today? A shrinking middle class, and middle class that frankly hasn’t been aspirational in 30 years.” - Earl J. Wilkinson
“Now you may think these are nice words that bring chaos to the order of the transformation. But folks, it’s not happening fast enough. We’re buried in yesterday’s culture. Today’s need to deliver a number and ultimately tomorrow’s deadline. We need a new sense of urgency now. We need to transform and innovate now.” - Earl J. Wilkinson
- Print and digital is the unifying theme: all news brands are looking to create an environment that makes use of both in a harmonious way.
- The industry must make a move toward becoming a strong and active news brand instead of just thinking in terms of a product.
- News brands must restructure their advertising models in order to monetise journalism in the future.
Earl Wilkinson is executive director and chief executive officer of the International News Media Association (INMA). During his career, Earl has written books and reports related to the future of media, marketing, and the strategic outlook for the newspaper industry – notably the annual Newsmedia Outlook report.
He is a Texas native, author of The Earl Blog, as well as a frequent speaker at newspaper industry conferences worldwide. His views on where newsmedia companies fit into the new media landscape are sought after by the world's leading newspaper companies, and he is widely quoted in trade magazines, newspapers, industry web sites, and more.
The mood of the news industry is different than four years ago, when media leaders felt desperate and ready to hit rock bottom.
Today, they’re anxious and hungry, according to Earl Wilkinson, executive director and CEO of INMA.
In his closing presentation of the 2013 INMA World Conference, he spoke of the divide between digitally disrupted and print-based countries — arguing that both mediums are still relevant.
“Somewhere in the middle, there’s truth for us,” he said. “And hopefully we’ve struck the right balance at this conference.”
As technology continues to advance at a rapid rate, news companies must change quickly to keep up.
“We live in exponential times, and that’s a challenge when we are an incremental industry, at least historically,” Wilkinson said.
The news industry is going through a culture change, becoming a hybrid industry of multi-media companies, Wilkinson said. And the transition encourages re-ordering the news business to these expectations.
“Print-digital is starting to look like something familiar and comfortable. We’re starting to get comfortable in our own skin.”
This marriage of digital and print will change the universe soon, Wilkinson said, as mobile begins to dominate the market and connectivity with Wi-Fi spans across the globe while new technology drives down cost.
Wilkinson suggested some key concepts news companies should keep in mind as they head toward a multi-media-focused era:
- The news industry is given the task of providing audiences with quality journalism, but news publishers are at different points in the funnel.
- News brands across multiple platforms create limitless opportunities that publications must capitalise on.
- News publications must focus on core competencies.
Together, news organisations must restructure the industry to accommodate the changing landscape of journalism.
“We’re buried in yesterday’s culture, today’s need to deliver a number, and ultimately tomorrow’s deadline,” Wilkinson said. “We need a new sense of urgency now. We need to transform and innovate now.”