Technology, creativity and future-oriented business models for “Newspaper 2.0”
by Michael Heipel, Director of Exhibitions, Ifra
A global media event, such as the Football World Cup 2006 in Germany, offers a good opportunity for experimentation to creative newspaper producers. This four-week football feast in an exceptionally sunny and hospitable Germany was a welcome occasion to show how it is possible to attract new readers, please existing readers and generate a dialogue with the general public.
Ifra called on newspapers worldwide to enter the cross-media special projects that they realised as part of their coverage of the World Cup for the Ifra XMA Cross Media Awards competition. By the deadline for submission on 31st July, 55 different newspaper houses from 29 countries had entered a total of 65 special projects.
The result was a unique collection of data. From small newspapers, such as the Belgian Grenz-Echo to the giant Japanese Nihon Keisai Shimbun, from Kenya to Ecuador and from Malta to the U.S.A.: the entries for the Ifra XMA Cross Media Awards competition show the wide range of options available to newspaper publishing houses today to please their readers and users. An international jury is at present in the process of selecting the winners of the competition, who will be announced in October at IfraExpo in Amsterdam (9-12 October 2006). All projects can be viewed online already under www.ifra.com/xma.
Our evaluation of the entries revealed several basic trends. For example, it is becoming increasingly important to incorporate the readers in the production of the editorial contents. Very few media wanted to turn down readers’ photos from the stadiums or fan parties. Online picture galleries found their way into the special supplements and pages, therefore linking the virtual with the real world.
A major topic is weblogs. These online diaries, which were written on location by journalists, experts, or readers themselves, represent a highly credible type of background reporting. Some media also included brief film clips contributed by readers. This is made possible by the constantly improving quality of the equipment, from mobile phones to digital cameras.
A common aspect of all these projects is that online is no longer considered separately from the printed newspaper. Online content finds its way into the newspaper and vice versa. Another trend is that editorial deadlines were put very far back in order to offer a previously almost unknown topicality.
The most interesting projects of regional newspapers address their audience via various channels and thereby strengthen their market presence in their core area. Public viewings, trips organised for readers, special events held in advance of the World Cup, promotions, and merchandising should be named in this context. By taking this approach, besides attracting new subscribers, the successful newspapers also gained additional advertising revenues.
Optimized processes needed
As well as a great deal of creativity, it is vital today to be concerned with the underlying technological conditions of “Newspaper 2.0”. Only if all work processes are optimally designed can the topicality needed in the printed product be guaranteed. Modern printing presses and flexible mailroom systems ensure the production and dispatch of maximum quality in the shortest possible time. As a secondary benefit, this means that they are also suitable for semi-commercial applications -- a business model that is becoming increasingly important for newspaper publishing houses.
It is only by working with modern, flexible editorial systems that user-generated content can be incorporated into both the website and the printed newspaper. They are a precondition for publishing on multiple platforms.
IfraExpo in Amsterdam is the most important platform worldwide for becoming informed about the latest status of all those technologies. More than 300 exhibitors and more than 9000 visitors from 70 countries are expected to attend the exhibition once again this year.
The special projects organised to accompany the Football World Cup 2006 have shown one thing: in the last years, technology has become increasingly relevant also to newsrooms. It is of immense importance to take account of the technical possibilities when considering which channels to use to distribute a news item. What good is the best idea if it cannot be realised?
The three-pronged formation of technology, creative ideas and intelligent business models is the basis for successful publishing on all the channels that are available to a newspaper publishing house today.
Page first published: 04.09.2006