Experts Discuss The Balance Between Editorial & Commercial At IMAA & ThinkNewsBrands Publishing & News101 Launch

Experts Discuss The Balance Between Editorial & Commercial At IMAA & ThinkNewsBrands Publishing & News101 Launch

Yesterday, in the main auditorium of Sydney’s News Corp building, Independent Media Agencies of Australia (IMAA), in partnership with media industry body ThinkNewsBrands, held a special in-person training and certification session to launch Publishing & News101 as part of the IMAA Academy’s education program.

The learning module explored the nation’s dynamic publishing and news media landscape, particularly the rise of multifaceted offerings across various platforms, including printed news, news websites, news apps, and category content publications. Participants gained valuable insights into the advantages of leveraging the nation’s diverse news and publishing channels alongside essential measurement tools and strategies for planning, buying, and booking news media. Attendees underwent group learning sessions and received certifications upon completing the module – they were also offered professional headshots and the opportunity to network with some of the best in the business.

The event included an all-star panel featuring Paul Blackburn, director of commercial data video and product at News Corp Australia, Aimie Rigas, director of audience development – publishing at Nine, and Jakeb Waddell, sports editor at Seven West Media (WA). From a practical perspective, the group discussed how to balance the line between editorial and commercial partnerships and why it is crucial that these two sides learn to work with one another without threatening journalistic integrity. 

Waddell toed the line from the editorial perspective, conceding that all journalists and editorial leaders must be commercially minded. Waddell discussed how it is often difficult to report against commercial interests, explaining when he had been invited to a concert by a major racing group. He then sat beside them at the concert as the report of a huge planning disaster broke via their publication. “It is just how it works out sometimes. If we say: they are spending a million dollars with us, so let’s just focus on the positives, we’re not doing our jobs very well,” said Waddell.

For Rigas, it’s all about trust. Audiences trust brands to provide a complete and unbiased overview of a story and not to be swayed in their reporting to one side or another that may benefit a commercial partner. “Just because there is negative coverage, it doesn’t always have to impact negatively on the results or the client,” she said.

Blackburn discussed how NewsCorp has the digital tools to ensure that advertising remains in brand-safe platforms – in other words, ensuring that ads for a brand don’t appear in an article that contains negative sentiment surrounding that brand. Blackburn discussed hesitation in reporting on Optus last year, given a couple of millions of dollars of advertising in play. Still, ultimately, they knew they had the safeguards in place to ensure the safety of their brand partners. “We’ve got data and the ability to segment our audiences so well now with brands safety guidelines and everything else that can keep brands away from negative context,” he said.

Publishing & News101 is the latest course in the IMAA Academy’s ground-breaking eight-part education program, which launched last year.

“We’re thrilled to kick off 2024 with the launch of Publishing & News101 – our publishing and news media e-module. Despite the ever-changing digital world, Australians’ thirst for news and entertainment, from print to digital and apps, has stood the test of time. According to Roy Morgan research, 20.8 million people read general news – a whopping 96% of the population. Additionally, at least 75% of Australians read category-specific sections like property, sport, lifestyle and entertainment, so it represents a huge potential advertising market,” said IMAA CEO Sam Buchanan.

“News and publishing sites continue to be a source of truth among Australians, with many investing deep trust in the nation’s leading publications, for brands, news and publishers offer unmatched reach and reliability to drive awareness, an ability to engage audiences with long dwell times, and higher mental availability. Plus, their omnichannel offering offers a depth and breadth of advertising across multiple platforms and audiences. We anticipate that the Publishing & News101 module reaffirms the importance of this sector in 2024,” Sam said.

“The Publishing & News101 module underscores the importance of fostering knowledge and expertise within the media industry, empowering professionals to navigate the evolving landscape of publishing and news,” said Vanessa Lyons, CEO of ThinkNewsBrands.




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