Creator of “Newspaper Extension Timeline” explains what audiences value



“We live in extraordinary times,” Ross Dawson, founding chairman of Future Exploration Network, told delegates at the INMA World Congress in The TimesCenter Monday morning.

Dawson released his Newspaper Extinction Timeline less than five years ago. He attempted to predict the extinction of print in each country around the world, beginning with U.S. print extinction in 2017.

The prediction timeline was meant to provoke a reaction, create a conversation about the future of print, Dawson said. The main reaction, he added, was “I disagree.”

“News is the most important issue for all of us, the quality of news moving forward,” Dawson said.

With an information explosion brought on by the rise of the Internet, people expect news to be instantaneous, Dawson said. In the next five years, 3 billion people will have smartphones and Internet at their fingertips, he added.

“Humans have an insatiable appetite for news and media and that will continue to grow,” Dawson said.

Media companies have the capabilities to drive the media economy globally. In a post-channel media world, Dawson said media value creation happens in eight domains around interfaces: timeliness, novelty, insight, design, reputation, community, filtering, and relevance.

Value is no longer solely created by news organisations. It is created across media ecosystems, and media companies take some of that value for themselves. People are recognising brands are no longer drive value, Dawson said.

“I think journalism is a boundary that we need to transcend.”

News flow has evolved as the Internet influences consumption habits. Amateur journalists are emerging with the rise of social sharing, and content has become more fluid: “Lots of people are taking your content and repurposing it,” Dawson said.

Efficient content creation comes from the blending of professional, amateur, and algorithm methods. Amateur journalists can complement content created by professionals to complete this media landscape.

People are looking for a single source for information, Dawson said. Trusted aggregation and personalisation are key: “News, of course, needs to be personalised to the individual.”

The goal is not only for news brands to offer value to participants, but to give participants the ability to create value as well. Community is a large part of a successful news media strategy, Dawson said.

“To truly create community, it is about creating connections between individuals,” he said.

Individuals have been the heart of revenue strategies for many publishers relying on paywalls as a revenue strategy. The struggle with paywalls: the unique audience and business structure of each news media company.

“Quite some time ago I described paywalls as the grand experiment,” Dawson said.

Experimentation is needed in advertising revenue models. Branded content is one space publishers have skills to create valuable offers for ad partners: “There’s no reason that this should not be done in competition with advertising agencies.”

There are risks for transformation, Dawson said. Implementing the wrong strategy is one, but the biggest is not experimenting with strategies at all. This leads to extinction.

The journey to creating the future of news is challenging but crucial, Dawson said: “The future of news is so fundamental to the future of humanity that the call to create this future is absolutely extraordinary.”


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