Emily Bell, director of Tow Centre for Digital Journalism at Columbia Journalism School, believes that the advent of mobile publishing enabled third parties like Facebook and Snapchat to steal in and usurp the position as news distributors from publishers. While journalists and publishers were focused on the idea that content was king, they missed that distribution was ultimately the name of the game when it comes to generating revenue.
Speaking at the news:rewired conference in London yesterday, Bell explained how the publishing industry got itself in the position that enabled third parties to steal that power in the first place: “”We’ve seen that social apps is growing, and now we can see how news is growing within social apps. 66% of US adults use Facebook, and 41% of adults get news from Facebook. That’s an incredible concentration of power.”
Initial reports heard by TheMediaBriefing – albeit anecdotal – suggest that when some news organisations finally decided to experiment with publishing to third parties with Facebook’s Instant Articles, they saw levels of traffic far and away beyond anything they’d seen before. In addition, it’s widely acknowledged that part of the allure of Instant Articles is that Facebook is extremely good at monetising mobile audiences in a way that publishers simply are not. So is it really so bad that publishers have lost that power?
In this year of 2015, Johannes Gutenberg’s printing press – one of modernity’s most important achievements – turns 576. Over the span of almost six centuries, a business model has developed and been improved upon to make journalism a powerful, respectable, and profitable industry.
Without a doubt, one of the best examples of this strength is The New York Times, internationally acclaimed for the quality of its journalism. In 2000, the last year of the 20th century, the newspaper’s parent company earned revenues of US$3.5 billion with operating profit of US$636 million. Net income was US$397 million or 11% of revenue for a very solid margin as compared to other industries, where the average margins of Fortune’s largest 30 publicly traded companies were 8.5%.
Fourteen years later, in 2014, the same company saw revenue fall to US$1.5 billion with operating profit of US$92 million and a net income of US$33 million for a margin of 2%. If those figures still seem almost reasonable, consider that extending this trend to project revenue (falling) and expenses (even falling with cost cutting), the newspaper’s days are counted.
Read more of our guest piece from Caio Tulio Costa here<<<
A roundup of digital news startups around the world: James Breiner for IJNet compiles 14 lists of digital start-ups together.
Now you don’t need an Apple device to use HBO’s streaming service: Changes inbound for HBO’s OTT streaming service.
BBC review: the key points: Nadia Khomami for the Guardian takes us through the culture secretary’s ‘root and branch’ review of the BBC charter.
The above articles are original TheMediaBriefing analysis, and initially published in our daily morning newsletter.
Stay ahead of the curve and get fully briefed on the major media issues of the day every morning by signing up here.