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InContext / An inside look at the business of digital content

The State of News Media: It is Springtime and We Can Grow the Business

March 27, 2014 | By Jim Kennedy, Associated Press

After a tough “winter” in the news business, the latest Pew report on the state of journalism predicts an energizing spring ahead, based on a key trend that may have sneaked up on you while you were busy shoveling: The big disruption in the journalism business is now coming from within the profession, not from the old tech bugaboos of the last decade or so.

Part of Pew’s report highlights the proliferation of digitally-centric news organizations and the migration of “traditional journalists” to new media ventures, but the reality is that traditional ventures are not so traditional anymore. And even Pew recognizes that the hiring trend that receives so much hype is not a one-way street noting the New York Times hire of Slate veteran, Farhad Manjoo and The Washington Post’s addition of Jason Millman, who hails from Politico.

The fact is there is reason for optimism in the digital news business, and it is based on the business itself, not (just) tech. So, let’s move past search, social and even mobile as discussion points and embrace the new conversation about real innovation inside the business. It took some time to materialize, and now it’s coming, from both new and old places.

Pew Where We Get News ChartBefore Pew cited the trend, a conversation about the big changes underway in digital news, in particular growing audiences of news readers, had already started. Marc Andreessen’s recent blog post took it a step further, looking at the business opportunities arising from this audience explosion. It was also clearly the context for Justin Smith’s recent public memo about the new direction for Bloomberg Media, in which he talks about the ways in which Bloomberg will innovate and experiment to address its growing audiences.

It’s clear that a new inflection point is upon us in the news business, and without diminishing concerns about lost jobs, lost audiences and lost influence resulting from the disruption of traditional media, it’s important to start exploring the new territory that’s being opened. At the Associated Press – the big mainstream news agency I work at – that means continuing to innovate on the content front for the benefit of our customers. Spring is here and there is more news consumption going on, and more journalism blooming. Ultimately, that’s a good thing for established as well as native digital players.

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