Archived entries for Journalism

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.

And what will be the role of print?

Date: February 24th
37 Grados (Av. Roma / Comte Borrell)

When organizing the third BCNMediaLab event we started asking ourselves: how will be the newspapers and magazines of the future? What will be their role in a news ecosystem dominated by real time, ubiquity and overload of information? We are seeing how press companies join digital natives, but also digital companies that decide to venture into paper. Newspapers and magazines are still born in paper form, like the catalan newspaper ARA, or the local magazine Barcelonés, defying the voices that keep claiming that paper is dead.

It was the journalist Philip Meyer who dared to say exactly when the newspapers will die, in his book The Vanishing Newspaper: 2043.

In the United States at least 166 newspapers ceased operations since 2008, but there are still 1.600 published daily. In Spain, the 4 major newspapers have reduced their staff by 39% since 2003, and there has been more than 2.000 layoffs since the economic crisis started.

With all these data, we asked ourselves: What will be the role of paper? How will be the newspapers and magazines of the future? To whom will they be addressed? Will they remain influential? Will they even be daily? What will drive us to buy a paper publication when we have digital, interactive platforms at our fingertips? To get answers to those questions, we have invited:

  • Louis-Charles Tiar, editor of Barcelonés and Madriz: two young projects with a clear bet for paper and diferentiation.
  • Antoni Maria Piqué, journalist and PDD by IESE. He’s a consultant in Newsroom Organization and Integration and Editorial Development. He has managed or participated in projects in more than 100 newspapers, from 55 companies and 23 different countries in Europe and America. He worked in La Vanguardia and was the editor of the Diari de Tarragona. He’s also associate teacher in the Universidad Internacional de Cataluña. He writes about media and journalism in the blog Paper Papers.
  • And José Sanclemente, economist and managing director of Imagina Media, a media consulting company. Until 2002 he was member of the board in the Grupo Zeta. He was president of the AEDE (Spanish Newspaper Editor Association), and promoter and founder of the free newspaper ADN. He writes on his blog, Entre medios.

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€ + 3.005€ Nxtmedia)
  • Years of planning: 1 (
  • 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.

“Journalists, as musicians, will have to do gigs”

There´s a high chance that more than one of the 5.000 or so journalists unemployed in Spain has thought the same question: can I set up my own media business?

Some of them might already have some projects in mind, ideas for news media start-ups, micro-media or one-person-media ventures… you name it.

But that´s not the point. As always, one question leads to another: who´s paying the bill? Are there any investors ready to fund new media projects in paper, online, or on whatever format they are? History tells this is a hard one.

To understand what a real investor, a professional one, thinks about this, I asked Luis Martín Cabiedes. No need for introduction, I think, but just in case: Cabiedes belongs to the family owner of Europa Press, firm in which he´s an advisor, and he´s also one of the most well-regarded business angel in the Spanish Internet sector. If this doesn´t tell you much, names such us Ole, Privalia, Rockola, Bubok or Trovit will tell the rest. He´s investor in all of these start-ups.

Question: Would you invest in a news media project?
Answer: The honest answer is no. And the reason is simple: content has not yet found a business model in the Internet. More than 15 years of history show that content has always been a bad business in the Internet and for an investor to put money on the table, you have to convince him first that there´s a business model behind.
Having said that, I do believe there is a place for journalist-entrepreneurs. There´s a place for specialized online publications that can end up being a good one-man company or 3-4 employee viable firm. Those are what we call viable projects, but not investable, so not scalable and without any possibility of being sold.

Q. Why not?
A. A professional investor always looks for start-ups that could end up with 10 to 12 million euros revenue in three or four years. A project about online content just doesn´t have that profile. Moreover, an investor is never going to buy something that doesn´t know who to sell it to later. Nowadays, the ones that could potentially buy those projects, the traditional media companies, just can´t do it because they are having a really hard time.

Q. No one is willing to pay for news online. The way out doesn´t seem to go that way, does it?
A. When we buy a newspaper, we don´t pay for the news, we pay for the paper. We have never paid for the news but for the platform, not for the content. The same happens in the music industry, we used to pay for a CD, not for the music. The Internet is not a platform, is the disappearance of the platform, and if the platform disappears you can´t continue charging for the same you were selling before. The problem is that online ads have a limit, they can´t support everything.

Q. So what would it work in the Internet: a combination of high quality content, analysis, together with the new platforms like tablets or smartphones?
A. I don´t think the solution is in the new platforms. There´s little paid content in the iPhone or the iPad, where the free of charge model of the Internet has won too. As consumers we are happy with that, it´s a feast; as companies, is a challenge. The ones who are losing out money are the media firms.

Q. What advice would you give to a journalist-entrepreneur wannabe?
A. The bad news is for the news media businesses, not for journalists. It´s the same as in the music industry, the problem is for the labels, not for the musicians. Journalists, the same as musicians, will have to do gigs. And I don´t mean it in a negative way, there are good opportunities there. There won´t be news media firms where to work, or it´ll be really hard. That´s why the best they can do is to find their niche, look for readers, become strong there, write content that people want to read, which is what this was always about, and keep the project to 4 or 5 employees. The same as a music band.

Q. And what about large traditional media, will they be able to profit from their online presence in the future?
A. No media organization, be it a TV or a newspaper, will ever make as much money as they were making before. It´s over. And the online content will never generate more than 10% of the advertising business of the old model. It won´t be enough. It´s naïve to think that the Internet and the iPad will keep them afloat. They´ll have to look for new business models.

Photo: SeedRocket

Journalists & entrepeneurs

BCNMediaLab: Journalists-EntrepeneursDate:Tuesday, December 21st
Time: 19:30h
Place: 37 Grados (Av. Roma/Comte Borrell)

Since 2007, thousands of journalists have lost their job. More than 5.000 are currently unemployed. The layoffs in media companies, traditional or not, are constant. There are almost no new job openings, and when they happen, the working conditions are poor. What’s the solution?

In the next BCNMediaLab we want to discuss an option that is increasingly popular among journalists: to become entrepeneurs. Journalists are building online micro news sites, social networks, independent audiovisual production companies, PR and communication agencies… Fortunately, there is a growing.number of examples.

Powerful initiatives like Politico and ProPublica in the US or Cuarto Poder, Periodismo Ciudadano or Bottup in Spain, have shown that the figure of journalist-entrepeneur is possible. Even Jeff Jarvis has launched the Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism. Hundreds of journalists are not waiting anymore for the media to provide them with a job. They invent one for themselves.

Is it possible to be a journalist-entrepeneur today in Spain? What kind of knowledge and resources are necessary? Which ideas are more likely to succeed? and to fail? Is it a viable option for anybody, or only for a few?

We have invited four journalists-entrepeneurs to answer this and other questions, and to tell us their own experiences:

  • Vicent Partal: is the founder and managing director of Vilaweb and it’s considered a pioneer in online and digital media in Catalonia. Before founding Vilaweb he worked as a journalist in El Temps, Diari de Barcelona, TVE, Cataluña Radio, el Punt and La Vanguardia.
  • Christian de Angelis y Pilar Riaño: In march 2010 they launched Modaes, an economic news website focused in the fashion market that has become a reference in the market in its few months of activity. They both used to work for Unidad Editorial economic newspaper, Expansión.
  • Valentí Sanjuan: Journalist, founder of, responsible of the (collaborative movie made by twitter users) and the online TV and radio program Vist i no Vist, which was previously broadcasted by Catalunya Radio.
  • Andreu Caritg and Oriol Solé: journalists, co-founders of, one of the first university-oriented social networks in Spain, founded in 2002, and with more than 300.000 users today.

Journalism has to reinvent itself

The BCNMediaLab is born with these ideas in mind. They are just starting point we wanted to share.

  • Journalism is not dead, and it will never die.
  • It’s not about creating new journalism, but rethinking the basis of journalism itself. It’s about rebuilding.
  • Self criticism is necessary to recover credibility.
  • Journalism needs to regain its social function, its civic duty.
  • Technological change has disrupted the chain of production and its added value. Business models change, but the profession itself changes too.
  • Technology is a means to an end. It can be a great tool for better journalism, but, in order to explore it, research, creativity and will are needed.
  • Journalism doesn’t exclusively belong anymore to its institutions and companies.
  • We are concerned about how traditional journalism companies struggle to find profitable business models. We want to help explore new paths.
  • For quality journalism to exist, journalists need appropriate legal and labour conditions.
  • We don’t know how journalism will be in the future, because we’re the ones that will reinvent it.

BCNMedialab has born

The BCNMedialab, a group of journalists that gathers regularly to debate around the media and communications sector, has just born. We think it´s time to open up the debate, add new ideas and seek solutions to the challenges journalism is facing.

We realized about the need to create a meeting point for journalists and those involved in communication, without companies or institutions behind. We want to reflect on the problems, challenges and development paths of our profession and we invite all of you who share similar interests and concerns.

Our starting point is a set of ideas about journalism that we have put together for discussion and can be summarized in one: Journalism should reinvent itself.

First meeting

We are glad to invite you to the first event on Thursday 21st October at 19.30in the Barcelona Bar 37 grados. We thought it was good to start the meetings of BCNMediaLab talking about an issue that is happening right now in many newsrooms: How should journalists work in online social networks? Do they act on their own behalf or on behalf of their employer? We have invited three people who we think can help steer a debate that we want to turn into an open conversation for all attendees.

After the debate we can have a beer together at 37 Grados and get to know each other. See you on Thursday 21st at 19.30. Please, sign in here.

The MediaLab

BCNMediaLab is a meeting point for journalists and professionals interested in the field of media and communication. We want to think about the problems, challenges and ways of taking our profession to the next level. We all start from a common idea: journalism has to reinvent itself.


The objective of BCNMediaLab is to be a gathering of journalists and communication professionals with an interest to debate around the issues shaping the future of journalism and the impact of the Internet and new technologies, so we can create and maintain an open pool of ideas. We want to collectively reflect on the digital present and future, and help establish the basis for a more innovative market that could evolve and adapt to the new media context.

BCNMediaLab Events

BCNMedialab: the role of paperThe role of paper
February 24th 2011, 19:30, @ 37 Grados.
When organizing the third BCNMediaLab event we started asking ourselves: how will be the newspapers and magazines of the future? What will be their role in a news ecosystem dominated by real time, ubiquity and overload of information? Will they remain influential? Will they even be daily? Sign up here.

Journalists EntrepeneursJournalists-Entrepeneurs
December 21st 2010, 19:30, @ 37 Grados.
In the next BCNMediaLab we want to discuss an option that is increasingly popular among journalists, as a solution to the lack of job openings and poor working conditions: to become entrepeneurs. Four journalists will tell us their success stories and share their experiences with us. See the video.

Journalists and social networking
October 21st 2010, 19:30, @ 37 Grados.
In the first BCNMediaLab edition we wanted to analyze the cultural clash that happens with the presence of journalists in social networks interacting directly, without intermediation, with the rest of participants in the media process (sources, journalists, readers…). In this cultural clash, both journalists and companies have something to lose, and something to win. See the video.

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