In case of a fire – DO NOT USE TWITTER & “Who is Sting anyways ?” – Are newspapers dead ?

Do not use twitter

We love to share. We share everything. We often get the “pass this onto your address book” – and we do ! We see something, we take a pic with our phone and instantly its on Facebook, BBM, Twitter for the world to see. we are in fact Clark Kent – Ace Reporters !

“How much does a Sunday newspaper costs ? When was the last time you bought a newspaper ?” I asked 15 people around me at the conference. Only 1 person said that sort of knew the price of the Sunday paper as they bought one recently (“about 4 weeks ago). “When was the last time you bought a newspaper ?” was met with the same puzzled looks as no one could remember. The classic answer was “why would you buy a newspaper ?”.

So 1 in 15 bought a news paper a month ago.

If I was in the Newspaper game, I would be seriously worried.

Day 3 of the Mobile Web Africa had a session titled “The changing face of Africa’s media landscape” – which is where I would be finding the answer to this obvious question: Are Print Media such as Newspapers going the way of the Dinosaur & the Dodo ?

Ronald Bach

Ronald Bach (Mobile Product Manager, News24)describes the “rise of the citizen journalism” where anyone has the ability to report on a anything and instantly share that with the world “YouTube killed the evening news – everyone is a reporter. Everyone can capture and share news in a democratic distribution”.

News channels are so aware of Social Media that MSNBC has bought a twitter account for $1million!

The way people want to consume media has changed & those Media organisations need to evolve and embrace that so that they have a future in a digital world.

Ronald cited the follow two organisations who are “getting it right”:

  • BBC – the have Live Blogging as event unfold. As the story develops the blog gets updated. Both verified & unverified posts are loaded and as more information comes in the news post changes.
  • CNN – CNN launched  iReport. It has 955 000 users & 15000 contribution. iReport is the “bat signal” so get User Generated Content. iReport has also evolved into a Social Network where you can interact with your community & be recognised via badges for your information.

Alistair Fairweather Alistair Fairweather

Alistair Fairweather (Digital Platform Manager, The Mail & Guardian) took to the mic and proclaimed “Print media has 10 years left to make money out of print.”

The reality is that newspapers are closing around the world as consumer are favouring the new way to consume their news – via the Tablet, mostly in bed at night as a touch of a finger.

Alistair is not saying that journalism will be dead in decade as now “anyone with a blog & YouTube account and a camera can pretend to be a journalist”. Citizen journalism will not replace professional media as “ there is a difference between loving to cook at home vs. starting a restaurant” as he eloquently explains. Alistair continues “Journalist not only pick up stories but also interpret them. Curation is becoming more important than Creation

So what is next evolution ? digital Media. Alistair offers the following tips & learning from Mail & Guardian’s Digital Newspaper:

  • Don’t bet entire company on the tablet. But you need to get into digital.
  • Tools exists to develop a tablet version of your media so no need find  “specialist”
  • M&G users were the best source of feedback. the first issue was 250 megabytes and when people complained they made changes
  • Rather launch with something not 100% happy with & make changes as the market changes all the time
  • By 2013 M&G plans to break even with new technology they haven’t used before. Shows how its achievable in short time

The “in my opinion” part:

Currently a newspaper can be thought of as a bundled product. Each newspaper has the local news, international news, sports, entertainment, classifieds. The trend is that newspapers are starting to focus and become niche – you can to “be all things to all people”. As an example, The Gazette in Colorado Springs is aimed at the city’s large military population. This gives them a specialised readership and very targeted audience. This also allows their ads to be targeted  & not a shotgun approach (excuse the gun reference)

When web 2.0 started we lived in a “first draft society” where anyone can throw up and spew anything onto the web and immediately it becomes news. People still believe in everything they read including Twitter “breaking news” that @some_shmuk tweeted whilst driving drunk after a fight with his girlfriend.

We need Journalist to become the filter between the rubbish that is out there and the real news.

Unlike the past when the news was read the next day and had to be perfect, we are willing to accept that a breaking story can change.  If it was Tweeted that 12 people were seriously hurt and then later a new Tweet saying confirmed 7 people were hurt – we are ok with this changed fact.

When you follow a journalist’s Twitter account and they are Tweeting live from the scene we get a more raw and realistic news than the ones edited and become “official”. Just follow someone like @MandyWiener to see what I mean…

So are Newspapers dead ? I dont think so. News isn’t dead but perhaps the PAPER part has a limited life shelf. The older generation who grew up with a Sunday Newspaper will continue to purchase it. However the new Techno-freak generation roll their eyes, whilst BBMing say : “I mean dude, where is the SEARCH button ? why would I want to read through all this #@!# when I only want to find things that I am interested in ? Besides this isn’t customised for me – I don’t even like sports and who the heck is Sting anyways”….

*sigh* – I guess I rest my case

Newspapers, Magazine and any other printed media need to recognise that their current audience isn’t their future customer unless they get on board and provide them information that they want to consume via their preferred Tablet/ Laptop/ Netbook/ Internet TV/ Wii/ Xbox/ DS ….



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