Television did not kill newspapers, nor radio. But it helped to change the content from pure written content to a mix of words and pictures, and later from black and white to full colour.
Today we all struggle with how digital content and print products will live next to each other. But the more important question is, “How will news media follow to find a profitable business model for their digital content?”
In recent months, I’ve noticed some things that point toward a potentially major game changer. At least that’s what I see when I connect the dots in my head.
Some of those dots:
In my home research lab with two teenage girls, I hear — sorry, see — them listening to music on YouTube. Oh yes, Spotify shows up in our house. But YouTube is king. They watch music.
This is no surprise if you know that every second of the day, an hour of video is uploaded on You Tube. And that YouTube is close to Facebook on number of unique visitors per month: 800 million, compared with 950 million for Facebook.
And it will not surprise media people to read that a shared video on Facebook is often more popular than a shared picture.
Let’s continue to look at the most popular news sites in your countries. All of them have more and more video content available. Newspapers, magazines, TV stations. A nice example is VG in Norway. On VG.no, the newsmedia company publishes plenty of content under the brand of VG TV. A perfect example of a newsmedia Web site, roughly 50% is VG TV content and the rest is picture with text. For sure, a key factor in the success of the Web site.
What do you remember most of a disaster? The picture or the short movie you saw on your PC?
Do you prefer to see a goal in soccer or do you prefer to read how a journalist describes it?
Do you trust the hawk eye when a ball goes out at Wimbledon, or do you trust the eye of a referee?
What do you want to see?
Static news is perfect, but only in print. The Web is fast-
becoming a portable TV screen that offers access to all media channels in the world, with the best search engine possible. Try to beat that!
Another dot is the launch of Fairfax AirLink, which provides a simple way to lead the reader from text to picture to video, all while using an iPhone. Maybe it’s only a first step toward success, but it shows that Fairfax takes initiatives in the right direction.
What about the strategic view of the CEO of Holland’s most important book publisher, WPG? Koen Clement sees his authors as brands that need to be active and successful on different media platforms, including television. The publisher already calls itself an independent group of multi-media companies, moving forward in print but also in other formats.
The last dot is the announcement that the former CEO of BBC has become the new CEO of The New York Times. The Times is a successful role model for all newsmedia organisations that want to make money from digital content. But you do not transfer the head of the BBC to New York to develop your printing skills. Mark Thompson transformed the BBC from a powerful radio, TV, and publishing house, to a leader in digital publishing. He knows the power of video.
I can’t wait to see how the Times will introduce more video and other digital content to its existing digital products, and how the company will persuade the newsroom that this is a necessary step forward to stay relevant.
Perhaps video will kill the newspaper star as we know him. I hope newspapers will soon create their own video stars that integrate their content with print information.
We’ll be “watching.”