keskiviikko 2. tammikuuta 2013

News media disruption - yes, but the bread and butter is quality of information.

I like much of Timo Ketonen’s thinking in his last blog for the year 2012 EDGE & The Social Web: 'MEDIANOMICS' - will 2013 be a year of disruption? 

There is a tremendous disruption going on in the news industry, but conventional newspapers are still doing ok. They are not doing good, as in good in the good old times. But they are doing al right, in terms of surviving a recession on top of the disruption.

I have said it before, and I say it again: The newspaper business in Finland is not stupid. It is still the number one medium in selling pair of eyes to advertisers. Yes, the numbers are not looking THAT good anymore, but I guess the Finnish newspapers will have over 20 percent of the market even this year. They are not going to be the winner in terms of growth. But they will be doing fairly good.

And this is the paradox of the disruption.

The news industry finds itself in a situation where the old stuff is still selling pretty good, and when there seems to be a growing audience wanting something else on digital surfaces - and nobody can be vey sure about what should be done, and how that is going to sell.

If we take a conventional look at the new industry, we would need to incorporate the retailers and their money into the development of a new news industry. If I were an advertiser, I would respond to this proposal: ”Well, ok. To a certain extent. I like your news stream, but I have my own business, too. So, as long as we can find cheaper solutions for me - cause, I’ve got my own figures, and I know exactly when it’s time for me to leave the news stream, because I can create my own attention magnets on digital surfaces - then I’m in!”.

The new world - probably rising from the digital ecosystem, is probably the new way. When  print media - veeeeery slowlyyyyy - gets rid of costs for printing and distribution, there might be good business up ahead. This New World is of course The Place for everybody wanting to come up with any sci-fi idea as possible.  

I have heard tens of times how the news - that is the piece of news - is going to change so dramatically that we cannot even talk about news anymore. Everything will change. Strong news brands will collapse, because people get their information from the digital sources, not to speak about social media. Journalists are not needed anymore, because on the web everybody is a journalist...

Yeah, right. 

All of a sudden the most evolutional part of the human being has vanished?! Curiosity. Curiosity and confirmation. Knowing what your enemies, allies and business competitors are up to. And all this in a world that is delivering faster info than ever before? Like: ”Hell, yeah. I only want my info fast and free and funny. I don’t care about if it is true or not!!!”

God, give me strength.

First of all; we are not a species that changes rapidly. Even The Mobile Revolution has been quite slow. People have still got old fashioned telephones at the end of telephone lines at home, etc. We will probably see a start of a real mobile change during the coming years, because of tablets and better smart phones. The network operators will probably try to do their best to slow this development down with ridiculously high rates, but there must be a way around that, too.

Secondly; we all need somebody to trust. Here is where the news brands will have their new coming. We can listen to any guy on the gas station, but when it comes to confirmed news, well, then we need to be certain. This trust comes from the profession of the journalist. If you do not know what makes a journalist, please have a look at the Finnish guidelines for journalists, guidelines 1-7 ( 

You don’t let anybody serve your car - you get it to a garage or a guy you trust. And you pay for it. You don’t let anybody give you a haircut. You go to somebody you trust. And you pay for the haircut, too.

There is a connection between trusting and paying, you see.

Producing news is about the same thing. You need good professional journalists to create quality content that people will trust and pay for. By the end of the day, every non-profit, non-salary-paying web journal will either be bought by a big media company (because it was good and trustworthy, or a competitor), or it will die, because being a journalist is fun, but fun does not feed your children.

If you would like to read more about trust in news brands, take a look at what Oscar Westlund is doing at the University of Gothenburg.

Disruption is a thrill, but it will not make things easier. I have done some research about quality of information. See for instance: Pär Landor: Understanding the Foundation of Mobile Content Quality A Presentation of a New Research Field. HICSS 2003: 88 or Pär Landor: On Wireless Internet Content Quality. ICWI 2002: 345-354 - at
I am still convinced of that the quality aspect is THE thing you pay for when downloading your news app and paying for the daily news.

But quality is  a tricky one. Quality of information usually comes with the package. That means new form of presenting news on tablets, smart phones, and any surfaces we have not even seen yet. 

And that, again, is a whole new ball game, since someone is going to have to build the new fancy representations. That somebody is hopefully a journalist, because I think journalist should manufacture his stories from A to Z. And, as we know, journalists are not cheap.

I will be having a look at the disruption of the news industry from the quality of information point of view in my coming blogs.

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