The newspaper industry needs to stop ploughing resources into plugging holes in print revenues and focus on where the future lies, digital, in particular mobile, according to Digital First Media editor-in-chief Jim Brady
Speaking at the Panpa 2013 Future Forum last week, Brady (pictured), who has overseen the editorial strategy of his company’s 18 daily newspapers, 172 non-dailies and 154 websites in the US, warned his Australian counterparts that they need to put digital first.
“When I say digital, I mean mobile too,” said Brady. “Six months ago not one of our websites had more mobile traffic than web traffic, now 40% of them do. It’s happening that fast in the US that probably in a year from now there’ll be a lot more mobile traffic then we have web.
“I’d be asking is anybody firing up an iPad app at the morning news meeting, see what the app looks like, or are people assuming someone else is looking after that. If that’s the case, you’re not part of that new philosophy.”
He said publishers are dedicating too many resources to the survival of print.
“Most of our revenue (75%) – albeit quickly declining revenue – still comes from print,” he said. “This latter fact has lulled publishers into spending too much time and energy on print. So what we’re doing is focusing on where the growth potential and future lies. This isn’t easy, but hearing how we’re trying to do it would hopefully bring some value."
Brady said to be digital first you have to build your workflow around digital.
"One of first newspapers we went into, at their morning newsroom meeting, they sat down and said ‘what do we have for tomorrow?’. Tomorrow?. It’s 10am in the morning, you’ve got more traffic on your website now than any other time of day. Why are you worrying about what’s going in the newspaper in 18 hours time? Should be worrying about what’s on their website now, and at 12pm, and 2pm, the news happening all day, that will write the newspaper.
“We don’t hold news stories for print. Why would we do that? People argue that they want the credit for breaking a story, they've no concept that putting something on the web first is breaking that story. We fight this one a lot, but outside of very rare circumstances, we don’t hold stories when they're ready to go.”
Brady is currently overseeing the rollout of Project Thunderdome in the US, a project aiming to create a centralised team that produces high quality non-local journalism for all Digital First Media mastheads, across all platforms.
The project will free local journalists to focus on local content that helps engage the community and drive local audiences.