News industry urged to adopt ICT to fully go digital

29-Oct-2020 Intellasia | KoreaTimes | 6:02 AM Print This Post

The newspaper industry is at the top of the list when it comes to industry sectors that have been negatively affected by the rapidly-growing digital transformation trend. Just as many other industries are working to speed up digital transformation efforts, the traditional newspaper industry is also advised to change its print-first workflow to a digital-first one.

People still read newspapers to keep up with what’s happening around the world but with the development of information and communications technology (ICT), people are increasingly consuming information on their mobile devices.

To adopt the digitisation trend, The Korea Times has been strengthening its capability in producing digital content.

For 70 years, the country’s oldest existing English newspaper has been a source of information for expats residing in Korea and domestic readers who want to consume daily news in English. With more people across the world reading news online, The Korea Times has also attracted international readers by publishing content on its website and engaging with readers through the paper’s social media channels.

To adapt to the digitisation trend, The Korea Times recently decided to publish its newspaper edition five times a week from Monday to Friday, ceasing the publishing of its Saturday edition. The newspaper reported the move comes as part of a campaign to increase online news content. To engage with more readers through digital channels, The Korea Times also plans to start an online newsletter service later this year.

In response to the changing industry environment, newspaper companies in Korea have been struggling with falling profitability. According to data from the Korea Press Foundation (KPF), the total revenue of newspaper companies in the country in 2019 stood at 3.8 trillion won ($3.35 billion), with only a 1 percent increase year-on-year.

Media outlets producing print newspapers are also having difficulties with falling paper circulation as the total revenue earned from selling print newspapers decreased by 11.8 percent in 2019 from a year earlier, according to KPF data.

Though there’s no specific data yet, as the global economy has been hit by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, many newspaper companies are expected to post diminished advertising revenue.

In such an environment, industry officials and experts in the newspaper industry said adopting digital technology as best and as quickly as possible has become essential for companies struggling to stay afloat amid increasingly harsh industry conditions.

One of the examples of surviving in the digital era can be found from The New York Times. The US-based newspaper said in August that its digital revenue exceeded print revenue for the first time in its history. In the second quarter, the newspaper added 669,000 digital subscriptions bringing its total of digital-only subscriptions to 5.7 million.

Above all, producing valuable and insightful articles and compelling content is key to attracting and keeping subscribers in the membership-based business model.

According to a report from Nieman Reports, a quarterly publication on journalism issues, news outlets are urged to focus on producing their digital products utilising various IT platforms such as virtual reality (VR) or audiobooks to be successful in the digital age.

“Two-thirds of the revenue of Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter still comes from print. But its leadership decided to focus on the digital presentation as if print didn’t exist,” Nieman Reports noted adding that the Swedish company was able to reach new audiences outside Stockholm, thanks to their digital content.

“After adopting digital subscriptions, Dagens Nyheter started creating innovative formats such as VR and audiobooks. As a result, they’ve attracted a different audience: much younger, more female and less urban. While 73 percent of their print circulation is sold in Stockholm, 60 percent of their digital subscribers live in other cities,” the journal further elaborated.

The proliferation of smart devices has led to the drop in print circulation, making newspaper companies feel threatened by the digital revolution. Experts in the industry have said utilising information and communication technology will be an opportunity to take the lead in the competition.

From developing algorithms that can be used to provide personalised stories for readers to monitoring audience data with advertisers, there are many ways that newspapers can capitalise on data and ICT to attract more readers and improve advertising revenue.

“For publishers that are beginning to use data, collecting descriptive data about their audiences is a good start. However, they should over time mature towards using the data to make informed predictions about their audiences and improve business results,” Grzegorz Piechota, leader of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers’ (WAN-IFRA) Newsroom and Business Transformation Asia programme, was quoted in the WAN-IFRA’s article.

“To boost reader and advertising revenues, publishers can for instance use predictive data to guide decisions on how to allocate resources to produce more articles that are in demand or monetise the predictive data with advertisers,” he added.

Also, there needs to be a government support package to help newspaper companies make successful digitisation, Choi Min-jae, senior researcher at Korea Press Foundation, said.

The researcher noted that the governments of the European countries such as France, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Austria have been implementing support programmes for news outlets to assist newspaper publishers in digitisation of their operations, business models and communications platforms.

“European countries are running support programmes that help news outlets make digital innovation. At a time when newspapers are required to establish digital subscription business models, develop digital technology-based reader analysis systems and develop digital advertisement formats, these countries are supporting each news outlet’s digital innovation programmes,” the researcher said.


Category: Korea

Print This Post

Comments are closed.