The way we consume content is changing almost as rapidly as the digital landscape itself. With every new announcement from both digital platforms and publishers, opportunities for more personalised, better mobile and more accessible content increases.
To survive the rapid transition to a ‘direct-to-consumer’ future, media companies need an effective audience-centered strategy or risk decline. Evidently, most content will remain the same, but the packaging and distribution need to change significantly if news businesses want to stay relevant.
Here are a few of the trendy digital innovations in the new media space:
- REALTIME/ LIVE STREAMING SERVICES
As media evolves to a direct-to-consumer world, nowhere is the competition fiercer than in television. Video commands the most revenue in the media and entertainment sector with an estimated US$420 billion globally in subscriptions and advertising in 2015, according to PWC’s Global Media outlook.
Globally, more people are choosing to stream video through over-the-top (OTT) services, that is, services that deliver film and television content via the Internet, without the need for traditional cable or satellite TV subscriptions.
Two apps launched in 2015 which brought mobile live streaming quite a lot of attention are Twitter-owned Periscope which has over 10m users and was named iPhone app of the year by Apple and Meerkat who raised $14m dollars in funding.
Recently Facebook launched its live streaming icon to enable users pick their audience and to start streaming directly from their profile, and a system to save for later viewing. Whether this more targeted form of video streaming will be taken up by the mainstream remains to be seen, but for the vloggers who want to reach a mass audience it probably won’t change much.
- INTERACTIVE NEWS
Today, more people get news on the Internet for free. Increasingly, apps are influencing how users consume media and entertainment as they become the preferred format for delivering content- and functionality-rich experiences that drive engagement.
According to comScore users spend 71 percent of their time on mobile devices using apps. A reason why Newspapers, once the only source of news, have seen declines in circulation. The barely surviving traditional news entities have aimed at transforming their reporting process to respond to the desires and needs of the 21st Century news consumers who dabble in civic journalism.
This interactive journalism, often praised for its ability to explore new and creative ways to amplify community conversation and solve public problems is growing with the emergence of Apps such as Countable or Openreporter Bulletin . These apps allow regular people to work in real time with journalists and reporters or other civic activists to produce news.
- ‘WIKILEAKS-ISATION’ OF MAINSTREAM JOURNALISM
Hackers and Journalist now have a reason to work collaboratively in producing interesting and relevant stories for today’s consumer. Think the ‘Panama Papers’.
The acclaimed mammoth investigative journalism work began with a brief online chat. An unknown person, “John Doe”, asked a reporter at German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung if he was interested in data.
What was leaked to Süddeutsche Zeitung included nearly five million emails, three million database records- about 2.6 terabytes of information; obviously way too much data for any journalist to read and draw a story from.
Süddeutsche Zeitung turned to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) to provide resources for data sharing and analysis and coordinate a team of hundreds of journalists. This giant stride in traditional journalism represented a shift from “lone” jobs by journalists on one side and hackers on the other.
Jim Rutenberg of the New York Times observes, “the leak signaled something else that was a big deal: The official WikiLeaks-isation of mainstream journalism; the next step in the tentative merger between the Fourth Estate, with its relatively restrained conventional journalists, and the Fifth Estate, with the push-the-limits ethos of its blogger, hacker and journo-activist cohort, in the era of gargantuan data breaches.”
- THE DYNAMICS OF ANALYTICS
The World Editors Forum’s ‘Trends in Newsroom 2015 report states that pioneering newsrooms have now tasked a person or team with the responsibility of developing and growing audiences and integrating them into their editorial operations.
The focus is on joining the dots between the “how and when” of audience content consumption, to the newsroom’s workflows, and the role the numbers play in editorial decisions.
Analytics are the instruments used to shed light on users’ behaviour and help newsrooms understand how their content travels, on and off-site. Analytical programmes help editors understand where the audience is, what it wants to consume and when and what it responds to, is complemented by the arrival of the ‘growth team’ in newsrooms.
New roles have emerged with titles such as Audience Development Editor, Audience Engagement Editor and even Growth Editor. The Audience Development Editor or team, often strategically positioned alongside the social and engagement teams, look at what, how, and when the audience consume the content. They use a data-driven approach to maximise the reach of journalism.
- THE PODCASTING REVOLUTION
Ever since the podcast Serial created a minor cultural sensation in the fall of 2014, independent audio reporting and storytelling has enjoyed a remarkable resurgence.
Defined as “a way to distribute audio and video programming over the web that differs from earlier online audio and video publishing because the material is automatically transferred to the user’s computer and can be consumed at any time” Podcasting is a global trend today.
News organisations have taken a cue from Serial and have started exploring this storytelling medium, but the key to making it work is thinking how it can improve your journalism and what kind of stories can shine through it.
Podcasting’s growing importance in the news dissemination process is reflected by the experiences of news outfits such as The Financial Times, BuzzFeed, Quartz, BBC , The Guardian and the New York Times on how they’re approaching podcasts.
Podcasting gives newsrooms the opportunity to further expand their storytelling tools and allows them to connect with audiences in ever more ways.