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January 23, 2018

Russia Beyond the Headlines

Russia Beyond the Headlines,
By Vsevolod Pulya

October,. 2013


On a recent WAN-IFRA event you’ve described the key trends news publishers can expect to see going into 2014. If we go on a larger scale and try to dream about what news industry could look like in 2064, can you imagine any fundamental differences from what we see now?

Looking back – those of us still here – we won’t recognize ourselves. The biotech revolution, merging human and technology – will change not just the news and information we get, but the basic nature of being human, its potential and its peril. Right now, our info devices are all external and our learning internal; we’ll see a merger of the two in ways beyond our current imagination. 


Texts in the internet tend to become shorter, while everyone in the media business has started doing videos. Does it mean that people’s habits shifted to less reading and more watching? Are longreads necessary for news websites?

Yes and no. We shouldn’t take the early Internet revolution has the end-all. Desktops – with their minutes spent now stagnant – have proven to be interim devices. They didn’t offer comfort for long-form reading. Now though as tablets proliferate – 35% penetration in the U.S, 40% in the Nordic countries – long-form is having a revival. We’re learning that device comfort, in part determines how and what we read.


How can we not lost reporting techniques while being extremely obsessed with new technology in journalism?

The basics – accuracy, doublechecking, effective storytelling – don’t change, though technology can often be confused as an end, not just a means to do things differently and better. Good journalists understand the distinction and need to pass it on to the next generation.


Is journalism a business of relationships or a business of selling content?

Increasingly, it is about relationships. Technology – digital technology – makes those relationships possible. We’re moving from users (an odious term) back to readers and subscribers (implying a paying relationship) and now, newly, to members. Membership offers lots closer contact, better serving both reading and commercial needs.


We’ve seen a fall of newspapers to Craigslist on the field of classifieds. What other traditional areas of operation can be lost by the newspapers if they don’t act fast?

The biggest concern is local retail ads. Much of the classified business is gone, and national advertising is moving rapidly to digital. The ability to satisfy local merchants, especially in mobile marketing, is key.


Which ones of the new services and other monetization opportunities proved to be the most successful among the US media during the past few years.

Hands down, paywalls have generated the most new revenue, with reader revenue up 5% last year and this year. Most promising: «digital services» in which news companies help local merchants with products from SEO and SEM to couponing and sitebuilding. 


Is Jeff Bezos buying the Washington Post a sign of the fact that media industry can be saved by the new generation of high-tech entrepreneurs? What else does it mean?

«Save» is too strong a word. The Bezos’ and Buffetts’ entry into the business is a potentially good sign, a signal of longer-term patience and investment in the business. In Boston, Tampa and Orange County, we’re also seeing outsiders buy in. In part, the Old Guard has run out of ideas and patience; in part, these new owners bring money, fresh outside-the-business and «runway», as Bezos has put it.


You’ve recently stated that we’ll soon see a Paywall 2.0 – a spate of new products, individually priced and targeted at niche audiences. Can you name an active example of such model or is it still being in development?

Sure, the Chicago Tribune’s Printer’s Row is a paid –for book section, digital site and events offer that is reviving the old idea of a weekly books section, but separately paid from a Chicago Tribune All-Access subscription.


Can you describe the integrated marketing solutions you’ve touched upon at the recent WAN-IFRA event?

Integrated marketing is the vast area beyond selling space, online or in print. It includes content marketing, native advertising, events as a business, and digital services offered to local merchants. It begins to act on how publishers can use a toolbox of commerce-supporting services, well beyond, «Buy this space, and good luck.»


What’s your opinion on the development of branded content? Can it damage the reputation of a media organization?

Certainly, sponsored content or poorly disclosed content marketing/native advertising can damage credibility. Giving advertisers a new voice – and helping them create and sustain that voice – is fine, but it’s got to be separated from the work of the newsroom. To do otherwise is to violate the trust of readers, and that’s damaging to the business, as well as violated long-standing and well-thought-out ethical guidelines.


Do you personally continue to read paper newspapers and paper books?

I read my local daily, the Santa Cruz Sentinel, in print, a nice quick rundown on local. The Sunday New York Times in print lasts all week, and the Times, WSJ and all other news media I read digitally during the week.