The Mario Blog
Key centerpieces for discussion of media today

I find this piece by The Economist’s chief data officer, Stephane Pere, to be a fantastic outline of the key points that should be the subject of discussion at meetings of newsrooms execs daily. I agree with the author: Yes, there has never been a more exciting time to be in media.

I don’t know about you, but I am faced with having to describe the “state of the media” for someone every other day. It could be an interview, or a workshop, or a conversation with my Columbia students.  Not a single topic dominates these discussions. That is why I found this piece by Stephane Pere, The Economist’s chief data officer, so important in the way it outlined what I call the centerpieces of the discussion.

I am a fan of The Economist: it is authoritative, it provides analysis that is usually key to understanding events, and, as Pere mentions in her piece: it offers moment of truth. (There is the word “truth” again in a contemporary discussion of the media).

Key points for discussion


Paying for content

It’s news everywhere. It is also more analysis than hard news. What will people pay for in this environment? Pere is optimistic that “maybe there is still room for highly distinctive news publications.” Distinctive is the key word here. What can your publication offer that makes it essential, necessary and DIFFERENT from the offering of others. Think local coverage, for example.

Yes, the concept of news has changed and evolved, and yes news publishing model has been challenged on both front of advertising and subscription, but maybe there is still room for highly distinctive news publications. Investigative and satirical journalism is a great example, embodied by the success of Le Canard Enchaine in France. This century-old publication is still profitable thanks to its 400,000 weekly circulation, despite not carrying any advertising.

Pare writes that her own publication, The Economist’s circulation profitability has doubled in the last four years and is planned to double again in the next five.

Since 1843, this newspaper has been publishing high quality global news. It acts as a smart guide to the forces that shape the future, as a trusted filter on world affairs. It offers serendipity as well as finishability, and aims to be an antidote to information overload.

Paid/Sponsored Content

Brands do not want to sell product anymore, they want to tell stories. It is that marriage of the advertiser brand creating a strong bond with the medium’s recognized and credible brand that serves as the foundation of good sponsored/paid content.

“Who better than legacy news publications to help brands do so? Being a credible source and storyteller is a great asset for content solutions. Storytelling capabilities can help publishers re-invent their marketing solutions, demonstrated successfully by The New York Times’ T Brand Studio and the Guardian’s Lab. In hard times, make sure you understand what your strength is and what makes you different. Focus on it, and leverage it in new ways.”

Multiplatform Storytelling

What will be the next platform that we will have to adjust content and storytelling for? The question is a challenge, and part of what makes the craft of journalism so fascinating today, in my view.  Yet, new platforms, and good storytelling across platforms can be a technological challenge and an expensive mode of operation for newsrooms.

“…there is always a new platform to consider when distributing content and companies like Facebook, Apple and Google are so big now that they can look like enemies. Legacy publishers are still too bitter about having let these pure players collect consumer data at scale to finally launch broad competing advertising marketplaces. But maybe devices and platforms are rather a source of opportunities for publishers to embrace.

What these platforms provide is an opportunity for publishers to test; to find new eyeballs, prospects, audiences, customers, but also to redefine who they are and what they produce.”

Extending the brand

I keep repeating this to my clients: the most powerful asset you have is your brand—recognized, even by those not currently engaged with it.

“We have an Economist Films arm that makes 15-minute documentaries which are also shared on Amazon Fire and Apple TV to give our brand further reach. We have a daily app, publish in Mandarin, and are available on platforms that include Snapchat and Oculus . 

Attracting, retainer audiences”

“It is harder and harder to engage consumers”

Creating those moments of truth, which, as all current marketing of newspapers indicates, is where the emphasis, and the differentiation may be in the world of the internet where it is difficult to tell the difference about content we should and should not take seriously.

Due to the proliferation of touch points and multi-tasking, ad slots and push notifications, it is harder for marketers to stand out and have an impact. Ad blockers make it even harder, plus marketers are competing in an attention span economy. More than ever, it is important to create moments of truth.

Monetizing and advertising

Innovative advertising is key, as in sponsored/paid content. It is an opportunity to create new revenue avenues, using talent and skills that have been in residence at every newsroom forever.

As a matter of fact, supply and demand of data and inventory from most marketplaces is now interconnected. Identifiers of all sorts are matched in real-time  – cookie ID, device ID, email ID etc. Therefore, publishers with a distinctive audience can offer agencies and clients not only access to the target audience for their digital publication, but also retarget them on search, mobile, video and other display marketplaces. Instead of pitching for the mere display or mobile portion of a brand budget, publishers can now aim for a broader digital plan. They can help brands build, promote, and scale content and campaigns across numerous touch points and tactics.

Our job in the media is to lead transformation, and transformation is often painful.

Speaking Engagements Coming Up

I will be speaking at these three events in the weeks ahead:

WAN-IFRA Middle East Conference 2017
March 14
United Arab Emirates

My topic will be about the importance of Sponsored Content, with emphasis on the recent launch of the Gulf NewsREACH by Gulf News project.

Mario García will talk about Visual Storytelling in the Digital Age. He will discuss the state of the media today, with emphasis on how we tell stories visually on mobile devices, the role of print and the importance of email newsletters and sponsored content to find new ways of promoting content and monetizing your operation.

For more information:

Mobile Media Culture in the Americas: The Digital Divide

March 23
Miami, Florida

I will be one of the speakers/panelists in this conference, a full day of interactive analysis of how information and communication technologies—specifically, mobile media—affect Latin American and Caribbean societies. How are mobile media bridging divides? Is that bridge strengthening democracy, social mobility, and economic equality and supporting growth and development? How has innovation changed the newsroom and news media landscape in Latin America and the Caribbean? What is being done to support enhanced journalistic coverage of our hemisphere?

For more information

Webinar for Crowdynews: open to all

March 29, 9 a.m. EST

The brief: As news organizations continue to find their way in the new order of reporting and presenting compelling stories to an ever-increasing fractured audience, there are three initiatives publishers and editors can and should focus on the near-term: digital storytelling, newsletters, and sponsored content.

Mario Garcia, world renown storyteller, editorial designer, and digital strategy consultant, will share practical steps news organizations can embrace to offset the disruptive forces rocking the news industry. During this 60-minute webinar, Mario will introduce a concept and then open the floor for a discussion on implementation and best practices sharing stories of those who are realizing success.”

During this interactive 60-minute webinar, Mario will discuss each topic sharing best practices. Following a short presentation, Mario will take questions and share how how others are realizing success. Please plan to join us on:

VOZ Media Conference

April 6
Vienna, Austria

I will be the keynote speaker for this event, my presentation titled The important role of print in the digital age. This presentation presents a state of the media today, with emphasis on how we tell stories visually on mobile devices, the role of print and the importance of email newsletters and sponsored content to find new ways of promoting content and monetizing your operation.

For more information:

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Contact us with speaking requests, questions or to discuss a project.