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Clarity Media Mixer: the big themes and issues of 2016

The Clarity Business recently hosted an enthusiastic panel of media leaders from publishing giants Fairfax and NZ Herald to get their take on the media themes and issues to look out for in 2016.

Here's what they had to say:

Timing is everything

To get things started, National Business Editor at Fairfax Media, Ellen Read, argued that journalists have to be skilled in the new media environment.

Everything is now and every deadline is now, argued Read, who pointed out that the outlet a reader first gets breaking news from is where they'll go back to for subsequent updates.

Readers want news as soon as it's out there, Read pointed out, and there's no (or not many) reasons to hold off on publishing a story in 2016.

However, True Commercial Editor at NZ Herald, Colin Taylor responded by arguing that exclusives still have value and working to longer lead times can create challenges in the race to publish first. In some niche sectors, people don't mind waiting for information - they want accuracy and solid information.

Is the quality of journalism declining?

In the age of social media, there's no doubt that clickbait articles and celebrity gossip have taken over the internet, but does this mean the quality of journalism has slipped?

Read was quick to defend the integrity of 21st century journalists by arguing that they have to sift through multiple sources – sometimes using a tweet as a starting point, but then building on that for a story.

Auckland Editor-in-chief at Fairfax Media, Cathy O'Sullivan also chimed in, pointing out that journalists at Fairfax are encouraged to use social, but not told to.

O'Sullivan went on to reference the Fairfax journalists that worked on the Faces of Innocence series – a series that looked at child homicides in New Zealand.

She went on to say that the media are always balancing between the light and the shade, making an analogy by comparing going to an online news site to going to the supermarket. You need to buy some substantial food like fruit and vegetables, but you can also buy snacks - it's up to you to choose what going in the trolley.

Should consumers have to pay for news content?

Taylor critiqued how the media industry got themselves into a situation where they give out their product for free, who went to suggest implementing pay walls could be the answer.

However, O'Sullivan argued that pay walls don't work – and said she had looked into the feature at the Herald and Stuff, having worked for both organisations. She also pointed out that you can't monetize media content through advertising, but you could monetize the audience, using data.

Trends to watch out for this year:

  • Google's AMP and Facebook's Instant Articles are the big things Fairfax are watching out for. Instant Articles offer huge potential for social stories.
  • Video is huge. Last month, Fairfax had more video views that TVNZ – so visual opportunities are everything to them.
To sum up the night, Read brilliantly said the media is going to change more and faster, but whatever the changes, the customers and where they are accessing news from have to be at the centre.

Thank you!

We'd like to say thank you to all out clients, suppliers, friends and the lovely folks at Generator.

Of course, we would also like to say a huge thank you to our amazing speakers – thanks Cathy, Ellen and Colin for coming along and sharing – you were all remarkable and we really appreciate it.

See you all at the next Clarity mixer.