The Mario Blog
11.29.2011—3am
Projecting into the future better than lamenting the present

TAKEAWAY: True, the day to day of running a newspaper publishing house today is challenging, but publishers need to become more visionary and start looking at 10 years from now as they make economic decisions.

TAKEAWAY: True, the day to day of running a newspaper publishing house today is challenging, but publishers need to become more visionary and start looking at 10 years from now as they make economic decisions.

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It takes money to make money, it’s been said for as long as I can remember. Today, media houses need to hear the message one more time. A recent blog post in the UK”s The Guardian, made me think about this. The piece is mostly the quoting of John Meehan, former editor of the Hull Daily Mail, who offers his views on the future of our industry.

Three highlights which hit home with me:

1. “The industry cannot be focused predominantly on print. The platform is not important – the content is…”

2. “we should simply accept that digital media is now all-pervasive and must be embraced totally, in newsrooms and in advertising sales departments…
I am astonished by the scarcity of regional media activity on tablets.”

3. “….focusing almost exclusively on the paper because it’s what pays the rent now – is a road to nowhere.”

Readers of this blog know that these are three principles to which I adhere strongly, and which I mention here often, not to mention during my visits to newsrooms globally.

One thing that I hear often, usually from the editor in chief, and with a defiant attitude: Well, Mario, you tell me how we will make money from digital. Here , print is still the main
source of revenue.

It may be so today, but it is not going to be that way forever, I remind them. I, too, believe that print, in some form, will be here forever, but I have no doubt that in 10-15 years, the majority of readers will be reading in a tablet. The popularity of the iPad makes it obvious. The way young people of all ages (as young as 2 years old), and old people (the 70+ set) take to the easy to use device is the one focus group nobody should miss! It is obvious everywhere we go.

But, of course, economic times are difficult. So, how can we convince the publisher of a newspaper, and, specifically of a regional newspaper, to dip into very tight pockets, to invest in the creation of tablet editions?

Here is where the “it takes money to make money” mantra comes in handy. Publishers need to look towards the future and not spend so much of their time concentrating on the realities of today which, we know, will pass, too.

And if you ask me what that future is, I agree with Editor Meehan: it is a multi platform world of publishing, with tablets as a primary platform for those who wish to consume news fast and where the best of storytelling can be accomplished.

I leave you with an important thought from Meehan:

I believe the printed newspaper will survive, but I suspect 10-15 years from now, more people will read tablet equivalents.

Of related interest

– Economist boosts profits after digital subscribers top 100,000
http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2011/nov/28/economist-profits-digital-subscribers

– The personal(ized) brand: Yet another reason The Economist is trouncing competitors
http://www.niemanlab.org/2011/11/the-personalized-brand-yet-another-reason-the-economist-is-trouncing-competitors/

– Two Belgian newspaper iPad apps show the wide range of possibilities of the tablet platform
http://talkingnewmedia.blogspot.com/2011/11/two-belgian-newspaper-ipad-apps-show.html

– Introduction of the Kindle Fire by Amazon does not lead to a rush of native apps from publishers, at least not yet
http://talkingnewmedia.blogspot.com/2011/11/introduction-of-kindle-fire-by-amazon.html

– Old news is new again thanks to Facebook’s frictionless sharing
http://www.poynter.org/latest-news/media-lab/social-media/154220/old-news-is-new-again-thanks-to-facebooks-frictionless-sharing/

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