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The role of print: Mark Porter

Mark Porter is the former Creative Director of The Guardian, and responsible of the 2005 redesign, one of the more important redesign projects in newspapers of the last decade. Mark works now as an independent editorial design consultant in London.

The physical qualities of the printed object will ensure that print continues to be valued in the future. Reading a printed magazine or newspaper is a tactile, immersive experience of a different order to anything the digital world can offer. But the speed, convenience and interactivity of digital mean that print can not compete as a mass communication medium.

I expect print to become a niche, with enhanced production values, concentrating on long-form journalism and high-end imagery. For newspapers, this means publishing less frequently, with higher quality, and charging more. There will always be an audience that takes pleasure in print, but it will be an increasingly small one. Printed newspapers and magazines will have to become luxury products in order to survive.

In february 24th, the BCNMedialab will host a meeting around the future of print media. Join here.

The role of print: Emily Bell

Emily Bell, Director of Tow Centre for Digital Journalism at Columbia Journalism School. She held several roles before in the online department of The Guardian, where she was Director of digital content for Guardian News & Media from 2006 to 2010.

I think that the newspapers and magazines of the future will be fewer in number (certainly newspapers), and higher in price.Or they will be completely free. Tablets and mobile devices will I am sure have a big effect on how people spend their reading time, or their commuting ‘eye time’, but I don’t think for one second they are the saviour of papers, they are a totally different medium.

Weekend papers will thrive for longer than Monday to Friday newspapers, which I cannot anticipate have a very long term future as mass market products. Within a generation there will be a dramatic falling away in readership. But in some ways I think this will actually help papers to innovate. As they lose the readers that have been their bedrock, they will have no reason not to abandon many of the features which were popular with that audience and try different formats, visual styles, different distribution strategies.

I would like someone to invent the perfect newspaper – not too big – and make sure it is reliably delivered. This would squeeze a few more years’ life out of print; making it easy for people to obtain and pay for. I do think there is a genuine existensial threat to mass distribution daily newspapers. I cannot think that they will survive beyond the next twenty to thirty years.

Entrepeneur profiles: Bottup/Nxtmedia

Everyone who has attended a journalism event in Spain or who has followed the development of new journalism forms in Spain will know about the role of Pau Llop and his partners. First in Bottup, the first citizen journalism website in spanish, launched in 2007. And then also in Nxtmedia, the project where they apply the experience and know how acquired through Bottup to other projects. Through both brands they make a persistent defense of the non for profit model for journalism.

Which was the biggest obstacle you have found with your projects?

Working and trying to maintain a non for profit project without investments or subsidies of any kind in almost 4 years of activity. Right now our main concern is to get the entities with means to invest in technology and knowledge to meet with us and listen to our proposal for the near future. Though we will still be non for profit, it’ll not be loss-making. We think it’s a very innovative proposal and has a medium term capacity for self-subsistence.

What would you recommend to a journalist thinking about to become also an entrepeneur?

I’d say do it. No hurries, no stress, don’t think your idea is unique and can be stealed. Start with the basics, have a tight control of expenses and think twice about where you spend your money to avoid jeopardize your project’s future. And most of all, be open to collaboration with your peers: your project will not flourish in isolation or with a “fierce competition” attitude. Internet doesn’t work that way. Oh! And when thinking about building a team, try to make it well-balanced including a business and a technology specialist. And finally, lots of patience, faith, peace of mind, and a disposition to enjoy the walk. And good luck 🙂

Key data:

  • Start up costs: 3.323€ (318€ Bottup.com + 3.005€ Nxtmedia)
  • Years of planning: 1 (Bottup.com)
  • Years to profit: Bottup is a non for profit project. It usually doesn’t carry advertising, and when it does, it’s for free. Nxtmedia was able to recover the initial 3.000€ investment after 8 meses.
  • Staff at launch: 3 journalists.
  • Staff today: 3 journalists, 1 developer y 1 designer.
  • Next steps: Modify our legal status to reflect better our non for profit approach in Nxtmedia. After that, draft a plan of technological development and economic sustainability. Open Bottup even more, transform it into a distributed and scalable tool (rather than a news site).

Entrepeneur profiles: RUIDO Photo

School of the Barcelona photojournalism collective RUIDO Photo

RUIDO Photo is a collective of photojournalists and documentary photographers founded in Barcelona in 2004. They have three main lines of activity:

  • Research and documentation, as photojournalism reports, some of them published in news outlets like Periodismo Humano.
  • Community enhancement actions, like this project of collaborative photograhy in the Congost neighbourhood.
  • Editing and publishing the digital documentary photography magazine 7.7.

Although they are a non for profit association, and don’t have an entrepeneur mindset, photographer and member of the collective Toni Arnau says that “the main and constant obstacle is the search for funds to guarantee the life of the project”. Toni recommends to other journalists to “not create big working teams, start small and build from there”, and leave the search for funds, both from private and public sector, to a professional.

Key data:

  • Start up costs: almost 0€ (hosting and domain). At the beginning they worked on the project as volunteers.
  • Planning time: 8 months.
  • Years to profit: The project is not for profit, but financing, mainly subsidies from public institutions, covers all expenses and wages.
  • Staff at the beginning: 12.
  • Staff today: 8.
  • Next steps: Keep promoting 7.7 locally and globally and redesign the website from scratch. There are also plans to start producing events related to journalism and documentary photography.

Entrepeneur profiles: Anversal

Anversal

Anversal is a newspaper and editorial design firm, founded in April 2009 by Olga Lamas, VĂ­ctor Gil and Teresa Domingo. The three of them are journalists, and worked together at the studio Cases i Associats for 10 years on all kinds of editorial projects before founding their own firm. One of their latest projects was the design of the newspaper Ara, but they have worked as well on the re-design of the portuguese newspaper Destake and other editorial and content planning projects for Time Out.

VĂ­ctor Gil used to work as an art director in the romanian newspaper Adevarul and the sunday edition of The Independent before founding his own firm. He says that the current economic situation “hasn’t been an obstacle for our company, beyond the usual: lower budgets and delayed payments”. VĂ­ctor insists to new entrepeneurs in the importance of communication and having a carefully nurtured contact network of potential clients.

Key data:

  • Start up costs: 10.000€
  • Staff at launch and today: 3.

Entrepeneur profiles: FronteraD

FronteraD was launched one year ago. This online media project diferentiates itself from the rest by refusing to compete in the daily race. Instead FronteraD publishes new content weekly, focusing on quality and topics away from the usual mainstream media coverage. Two of their features have been awarded recently.

The initial project was a paper magazine, but after 6 years of planning they decided to focus their efforts on the online version, which was ready in just a year. Besides advertising, revenue comes through donations from readers, a model very much like Periodismo Humano, a similar project.

Jose LuĂ­s Toledano, Managing Director of FronteraD, thinks that a journalist that is thinking of becoming an entrepeneur should “invest time and effort in an appropiate content management system, look for a good financial partner, have luck, don’t give up. And guarantee the economic survival of the project for at least 2 years before taking it to the market”.

Key data:

  • Start-up costs: 70.000€
  • Years of planning: 6 when the project was a paper magazine with online version. When it was reduced to just an online magazine, 1 year.
  • Years to profit: 3 (planned in 2012).
  • Staff at launch: 6 plus freelance collaborators.
  • Staff today: 4 plus freelance collaborators.
  • Next step: Keep improving fronterad.com and launch a paper magazine.

Changes in the next BCNMediaLab

Sadly, Vicent Partal will not be able to talk at the next BCNMediaLab. But in his place we’ll have the chance to listen the story of Pilar Riaño and Christian de Angelis, two experienced journalists who previously worked for ExpansiĂłn, that in March of 2010 launched Modaes, an economic news website focused on the fashion and retail markets. In its few months of existence Modaes has already become a reference in its market.

Video recording of the first BCNMediaLab meetup



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