Posts Tagged ‘the globe and mail’

‘Future of Media’ event examines impact of social media, mobile

September 10th, 2010
From left to right: DigitalJournal.com Managing Editor, David Silverberg; Anjali Kapoor, Managing Editor, Globe and Mail, Digital; and David Skok, Senior Producer of Online Content for Global News; Elmer Sotto, head of growth for Facebook Canada; social media expert Mark Evans; and Polar Mobile CEO, Kunal Gupta.

From left to right: DigitalJournal.com Managing Editor, David Silverberg; Anjali Kapoor, Managing Editor, Globe and Mail, Digital; and David Skok, Senior Producer of Online Content for Global News; Elmer Sotto, head of growth for Facebook Canada; social media expert Mark Evans; and Polar Mobile CEO, Kunal Gupta.

These were some of the discussion topics at the Future of Media 2010 panel discussion held in Toronto’s Drake Hotel, where a standing room-only crowd crammed into the Underground space to hear what panelists had to say about journalism’s prospects. The Future of Media event is hosted by DigitalJournal.com. It’s a regular event intended to bring a variety of experts together to discuss changes in the news industry, emerging trends and their impact on the media business.

The panel was made up of executives from a variety of companies: Elmer Sotto, head of growth at Facebook Canada; David Skok, Senior Producer of Online Content for Global News; digital marketing and social media strategist Mark Evans; Kunal Gupta, CEO of Polar Mobile; and The Globe and Mail’s Managing Editor, Digital, Anjali Kapoor.

The standing-room only event began with a discussion on the challenges facing mainstream media today. Despite the struggle to retain print readership, the digital era is ushering in a new variety of media consumer, the panelists agreed.

While the conversation focused primarily on social media and its influence on news, Evans stated strongly that content is still king, and many panelists agreed. “Content will still be king, not all the bells and whistles that comes with it”, said Kapoor, with Skok nodding in agreement. “Journalists should be great storytellers, no matter what,” Skok noted.

But where content is read is changing and will continue to evolve. Gupta from Polar Mobile says reading news on your smartphone should be the norm, if only media outlets invested more in implementing apps. “The growth in mobile users has blind-sided media companies. [Polar Mobile] has gone from one million to six million users,” he said.

Gupta also cited an intriguing statistic regarding content consumption, saying mobile users consume 100 pages of content per month on Time.com’s smartphone application compared to only 14 pages on Time.com’s website.

Evans countered Gupta’s statement, saying mobile isn’t yet catering to advertisers so its success as a news platform is still up in the air. Gupta responded by saying the mobile ad market is immature in Canada, so all we get now is that tiny banner ad across the screen. “The infrastructure needs to improve,” Gupta said.

Gupta also discussed how payment systems need to be simpler in the future in order for any kind of micropayment process to work effectively. He’s unsure when this will occur, but Gupta said he is certain news outlets would benefit from a more mature smartphone market.

The discussion then turned to what Google CEO Eric Schmidt recently said to the Atlantic Monthly: Newspapers will survive the digital revolution but expect news to be delivered on anything but paper.

Kapoor from the Globe & Mail responded by saying she sees print newspapers still appealing to news junkies; compelling content will continue to attract readers, it’s just a matter of complementing print stories with online add-ons, she said. Evans agreed, saying the growth of free dailies should demonstrate there is still demand for print.

When the talk turned to Facebook’s role in the media industry, Facebook Canada’s Sotto and Evans argued about the issue of the social network being a “walled garden.” Evans felt Facebook doesn’t offer a variety of ideas since people tend to read within an echo chamber. Sotto replied by saying you never know what you’ll find in your Facebook News Feed. He recalled clicking on links from a friend about country news in his feed, even though he never liked the music, “but I felt compelled to learn more about it.”

Kapoor noted the Globe & Mail enjoyed partnering with Facebook recently to bolster the Globe’s viewership. Sotto said the Globe saw an 81 percent increase in Facebook referral traffic when it implemented the Facebook “Like” button on the site.

Kapoor also said media outlets should get away from the idea of “we need to build everything ourselves.” She added, “The challenge is that news organizations shouldn’t be developing everything, they should be partnering. The online environment is a very different environment, and those skills aren’t always translated to traditional newsrooms.”

The panel also touched upon the issue of moderating comments. They wondered if online comments should be moderated in-house or outsourced. Evans believed this service should be outsourced because of cost, but some of the other panelists disagreed.

The panel was then asked about Twitter’s potential as a breaking-news source. Look at how the hostage crisis at the Discovery Channel building heaped praise on the micro-blogging service with headlines such as “Twitter breaks hostage story.” What happened to news outlets getting those scoops?

“Twitter is not a content creator,” Evans said. “It allows people to have conversations, to say what they want, but it’s not a news outlet. We have to remember that.”

Evans went on to say the difference between journalists and the public tweeting news they come across is storytelling. Laying out the facts and uncovering verifiable sources are skills media organizations still covet.

Speaking of skills, what talents should the next generation of journalists perfect in order to be attractive to news outlets? Kapoor said the Globe looks for journalists who can tell a good story and report effectively. She also said today’s journalists should also know more about SEO, analytics and knowing who the audience is, as well as social media and multimedia journalism.

“Be bold, experiment, that’s what we want to see,” Kapoor said.

Skok echoed her statement but stressed he would still like to see journalists hone the age-old skills of producing quality content. That said, Skok also supports using technology to tell stories in new ways. For example, Skok said his company gave every Global National reporter across Canada a new iPhone 4 with which to shoot video reports in addition to standard coverage.

When it comes to working at Facebook, Sotto likes to see risk-takers try new things. Some of their best ideas, such as photo tagging, came from all-night programming sessions when staff wanted to play around with brainstormed ideas, he said. Sotto also praised the University of Waterloo, where he said Facebook has discovered some of the best interns who went on to become employees.

After the panel discussion, the event moved to a Q&A where panelists took questions from the audience. One self-professed techie asked the panel what it thought about the future of radio and podcasts. Evans admitted he doesn’t listen to radio much, saying “podcasts are like the ugly orphan in the corner.”

Skok, on the other hand, thinks audio reports could be part of media’s future; during the G20 protests in Toronto, a Global reporter complemented her editorial with a voicemail add-on to a liveblog during a car fire. “She was terrified and you could hear it in her voice. It was the most compelling thing I have heard in years,” he said.

On Twitter, Digital Journal got a question via @annejoyce, who asked about social media’s popularity creating positions such as community managers at news outlets. Will these types of job openings continue to flourish or is it a passing fad?

Kapoor said the Globe isn’t consistent in how it handles this newly created position, considering how hazy the ROI has become in implementing a social media manager. It can also be difficult in measuring the success of someone involved in social media. “Do you base the qualification on traffic or Twitter mentions or something else?” she asked.

Evans answered Anne’s question bluntly. “Today, would you rather be a social media manager or a journalist? I’d go with social media, without a doubt.”

The Future of Media event was hosted by DigitalJournal.com and was sponsored by Suite 66, Queensway Audi and CNW Group. Prize sponsors included Rogers Wireless, Palm, Flip Video and Dell.

Facebook, media outlets discuss social media’s news revolution

August 17th, 2010

Social media has upended everything from how people find information to media organizations’ business models. Digital Journal talks to a few industry leaders on what this means for the future of media.

In media circles, the words “social media” are uttered almost as often as one would greet a co-worker in the morning, for good reason: It’s completely changed journalism, business models and strategies of news organizations.

According to comScore, almost 75 percent of global Web users access social media sites every month. When it comes to generating revenue, eMarketer says U.S. advertisers will spend $1.68 billion on social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter in 2010. That is a 20 percent jump over 2009 numbers.

And when it comes to journalism, many experts agree social media lets reporters have more frequent two-way communication with news consumers; it allows journalists to find more sources and real-time information; and it enables inexpensive live reporting for just about anyone.

“Social media has fundamentally changed the two most important aspects of traditional news, namely breaking news and commentary,” Jordan Banks, managing director of Facebook Canada, told DigitalJournal.com. “As a result, it is no longer sufficient just to provide the news. The expectation of the masses is now to be able to participate in the news, to share it, shape it, comment on it, define it and to use it as a tool to democratize the entire creation and dissemination process.”

Banks oversees Facebook’s Canadian operations and is responsible for leading and managing all commercial operations from the company’s Toronto-based office.

Previously, Banks was the managing partner at Thunder Road Capital which he founded in 2008 to provide investment and advisory services to early stage technology companies. Prior to that role he was the CEO of JumpTV and managing director of eBay Canada.

As a seasoned executive who has run the Canadian offices of a few Silicon Valley giants, Banks is widely respected and is an expert on social media’s impact on business. In one of his first major public events since taking over Facebook’s Canadian operations, Banks is set to appear on a five-person panel discussion at the Future of Media, an event taking place in Toronto on Sept. 8. The event is hosted by DigitalJournal.com and invites key executives, entrepreneurs, social media experts and journalists to comment on the future of media and engage in a Q&A with audience members.

“In a world where ‘social’ is the norm and expectation, all content — and news is no exception — will have to play by the rules of transparency, honesty and mass collaboration,” said Banks. With social media changing how, where and when people communicate, large news organizations are now adapting their business models and strategies to capitalize on an increasingly engaged audience.

“Media organizations need to look at social media as a distribution tool to get their content and brand to readers and users who may not be visiting their website, mobile site and applications,” Anjali Kapoor told DigitalJournal.com. Kapoor is the Managing Editor, Digital at The Globe and Mail. “The experience of a news user has also changed and more often than not, a news item might show up in a Facebook feed or Twitter feed first. It offers amazing potential and changes the way journalists need to think about their audience and their journalism.”

Kapoor oversees the editorial digital strategy for The Globe and Mail. She was also director of product and editorial at Yahoo! Canada where she was responsible for overseeing the product strategy and business goals of the Media Group. She will also be speaking at the Future of Media in Toronto on Sept. 8.

Kapoor says a social media plan and strategy is always an integral part of The Globe and Mail‘s coverage of various news stories. She says the Globe is using social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter to cover stories and cites a Toronto example: “Our coverage of the G20 Summit was a combination of traditional journalism and a live blog that incorporated real-time tweeting, photos and video from reporters, our readers and other blogs,” Kapoor said.

Print journalism is not the only medium to be affected by social media, either. As David Skok, Senior Producer of Online Content for Global News told DigitalJournal.com, broadcast media is also in the middle of undergoing massive change.

“The ivory tower approach of an anchor telling the audience what kind of day it’s been has been replaced by a collaborative and symbiotic relationship between the audience and the reporter,” Skok said. “On a consumption level, the audience now gets to decide what it wants, when it wants it. Whether through social graphs or geo-targeted hyper-local news, the audience that now determines what’s important to them and their friends, and not the news editor.”

Skok oversees the local and national digital properties under the GlobalNews.ca network. His career spans both the online and on-air worlds of news, and he’s pioneered many of Global News’ online and cross-platform efforts. Prior to that position, he worked with ABC News in Washington on its Nightline program, and with CHUM Radio in Toronto. Skok will also be speaking at the Future of Media in Toronto on Sept. 8.

“The ultimate purpose of journalism is to communicate with, and on behalf of, the audience,” said Skok. “As the audience changes the way it consumes news and information, it is vital that journalists reflect these changes both in their news-gathering and storytelling abilities. Ignoring the effect of social media on journalism is akin to turning your back on the audience you serve.”

Skok believes social media has greatly increased the transparency between news organizations and their audiences, which has improved relationships between the two. And while many news organizations have embraced social media in some way, Skok believes they are not utilizing new platforms to their fullest.

“Very few news organizations have a strong grasp of what each services’ strengths and weaknesses are, and how each can be effectively used as distribution and communication tools,” he said. “Social media isn’t just about communicating to your audience, it’s about sharing with and learning from them in a transparent and honest way. That’s a concept that I think most news organizations are still grappling with.”

For more info on social media and mobile platforms, don’t miss the Future of Media event in Toronto on Sept. 8. The event is hosted by DigitalJournal.com and it’s free to attend but space is limited. More info on the event can be found here.