Great advice here for journalism students on securing new online opportunities, but what about seasoned Hacks? What lies ahead for them – apart from expensive re-training? And can any of them adapt to online journalism? Place your bets please.


It could be argued that in these ever-advancing times of digitalisation, the trusted press release has little or no purpose for the modern and evolving newsroom. Not so. A good press release, well, written, impeccably delivered, and with stunning press photography will always be of value to the time-pressed Editor.

After throwing my thoughts on the subject into the arena in the past, there are further valuable hints and tips here on that trickiest of subjects – the winning press release. There are many, many PRs that need to read, digest, and utilise the information shared.

Great inputs, as always, here from Jeff Jarvis – and yes, collaboration surely lies the grassroots of survival for journalism.

But, the biggest challenge is surely how to get competing newspaper publishers to collaborate to create sustainable opportunities: I recall working on a newsdesk within a regional publisher delivering two local dailies across a region, and being amazed to see no tangible co-operation or collaboration between the journalists, editors and number-crunchers there – and they were part of the same newspaper Group! The attitude was “If it isn’t directly in my remit, I don’t want to know”. And this is typical in regional journalism across the larger publishers across the UK.

So, Jeff, in the light of a complete lack of any desire, motivation or reason for these guys to collaborate – even in the midst of fighting for commercial survival – how exactly will they come to a place of collaboration? I am struggling to see solutions.

At least, those are the figures according to this post.

New markets are opening up daily, with the increase of internet users across the world – the impact of this on Western publishers has been seen only too readily in the last 18 months: heck, the big boys have been hit so hard that editorial staff are still counting the cost today – and will be for months to come, it appears.

So, if there are a predicted 2.2 billion more internet users coming from Eastern countries, why is there a stubborn persistence ot look to print as the route forward by some? Isn’t it painfully clear by now that the strong will survive online?

Content is still king, but the market has moved. If you’re not focusing on the online offer, why not? Make changes in your approach to editorial and onlince content – before it’s too late. Still amazed here at companies not utilising the internet.

And, given the state of the media, this kind of activity could well help to protect the future of blogging in Britain. Bravo.

And here’s a contemporary version of the same battle…in one corner, an ageing megolithic rambling beast, too large and slow to sustain itself and adapt…in the other corner, a nippy, lightning-fast contender with super-quick reactions…newspapers vs. online.

I had an excellent meeting with Dave King, Editor of regional daily newspaper Swindon Advertiser recently, and amongst the topics of conversation, new media and the challenges facing traditional newsrooms came up. He surprised me – positively.

With a team of seven journalists, covering a huge patch, and working in probably one of the most competitive, budget-reduced areas of British journalism, King is pushing ahead through online boundaries. There are a host of regional bloggers contributing to the site, local news is mixing comfortably with solid online advertising, and the site could exist in its own right separate to the daily newspaper from which it sprang. Encouraging indeed.

Also encouraging was to see a traditional daily newspaper editor actually embracing contemporary challenges, and given the environment which Newsquest finds itself at the moment in the UK, King’s approach is nothing short of courageous. Bravo.

The conversation included talk of increasing the mix, adding value to the online offering, and of strengthening the remit of online and offline news – such as distributing certain exclusives online, and others offline, to protect circulation. Smart cookie.

Maybe we’ve all gotten so used to negative news around our media delivery, we’re not aware of the positive work being carried out there in the regions by budget-pressed journos. Maybe they aren’t shouting their successes loudly enough. Maybe a bit of both.

Time will tell, according to this story today from Paul Bradshaw’s excellent blog.

One of the main USPs of newly-launched London-based aims to be allowing readers to vote for the content to be used. Giving the readership control of the content online, and letting bloggers integrate directly with the news stream.

Interesting. Truly exciting and coming from a UK publisher, too. Despite the reliance on advertising as a revenue stream, the site aims to offer an alternative view on the selection and dissemination of news. Moving away from traditional editorship.

As a balanced, objective editor, I can see the pros and cons here: it’s a fascinating proposition. You decide on its merits.

Embrace digital or die

July 13, 2009

In light of this today, it seems clear where the winners are residing in Medialand.

Interesting to see the top tech firms riding high in the Guardian Media 100 for this year, but given the economic state underlying commerce, no real surprises. The power of the internet and content combined continues to dominate firms in our space.

However, it’s likely that we’ll see further cutbacks, job losses, business closures and related dropouts in coming weeks, as traditional media firms, PR agencies, old-school publishers, Dickensian newspaper managers and the like refuse flatly to embrace change and integrate online into everything they do.

And the result? More journos knocking on the doors of local councils for press office jobs, or maybe considering for the first time to leave newsrooms and enter the Dark Art of PR in agency-land. My money would be with the digital marketing agencies: at least as a content creator with NCTJ credentials, there is some hope following the harsh reality of redundancy.

It’s a thankless task, trust me: I’ve been there, and seen many a Hack suffer a slow and painful professional death at the hands of a commercially-bereft, cold-hearted account director in the past. Of course, there are some good ones out there too!

So, what’s the message from the Guardian Media team this year? Pretty simple. Embrace the digital age or die.

At least, according to this today.

Actually, in part I agree: many of the traditional publishers in the UK observed the coming of digital and internet-based publishing, blogs, twitter, and the numerous online innovations, instead remaining focused on the print options only.

The readerships, as consumers, have voted with their feet and mouse clicks, and more of them are migrating to free content online than ever before: the hundreds of redundant journalists across the UK lay testimony to this.

But still, in spite of overwhelming evidence indicating that newspaper management needed to engage the audience, the reader, the market, in the places they choose to get their news, what have many done? Continued observing, done nothing, introduced no innovations, given minor allowances to the digital age by copying content from print to the web…and wondering why readerships walk.

Let’s not forget one simple economic fact: when a product or service no longer serves the market, it becomes obsolete.

And so we see the current state of the British newspaper industry. They forgot to nurture the relationship with readers. And then bemoan the state of advertising and consumer interest when the paginations keep plummeting on a daily basis.

It’s all about listening to the market demands and repsonding accordingly. It looks like for some it’s too late. As we all know, when you lose their interest, readers rarely ever come back. This simple business rule applies to the publishers too.