Raju Narisetti of WSJ: how newspapers should tackle 2013

small__8444458600This Nieman interview with the Wall Street Journal’s Raju Narisetti is an absolutely crucial read for anyone who works in newspapers who cares about the future of newspapers.

The highlights, digested, start with paywalls (which he claims have been installed by 450 newspapers in the US and North America in the last 12-18 months):

“If anybody out there thinks a paywall is going to solve our industry’s problems in itself, they’re in for a very rude surprise.”

On journalists who care about the business side…

“We have a lot of people who are very, very good at the journalism end of our business. But there’re not that many people who are interested and want to do more at the business end of journalism who have a background in journalism.”

On the shift to mobile, particularly smartphones, which he says will move from about 30pc of traffic to the high 40s by the end of the year:

“What we really need to be is increasingly saying: What does it mean to be mobile-first? Because the first experience of consuming your content, whether it’s a news alert, whether it’s an email, whether it’s a browser or an app, is increasingly going to happen on that mobile device … The real challenge is, in addition to the audiences moving, is how do you monetize, how do you create compelling advertising on these devices?”

On mobile apps and responsive design:

“The notion that you’ll have a couple of flagship apps, then maybe not do a lot of apps but maybe move into a responsive design approach because the browser isn’t going away any time soon — I think that is starting to take hold quite a bit.”

And his answer for how to keep maintaining apps? Care less about maintaining them ie let them die, then replace them – as in the “limited edition app”:

“There’s going to be no care or feeding for the app, it was meant for a limited time, and then you’re done with it — and you discard it, and we don’t mind you discarding it. I think with that notion you might see some limited-edition apps come and go.”

On newspapers’ poor start on advertising innovation:

“We’ve got to own the relationship between our audience and what they do with advertising on our platforms. That’s going to be the sweet spot where we can monetise it better, we can actually do a lot more with that information. I think we have abandoned and ceded that to third parties and we need to regain that… My argument is: Why don’t we have advertising innovation also be part of our mission as an organization, where we come up with innovation our newsroom likes, our advertising guys like, our sales guys like, then we go out and sell that?”

Tools and startups he likes: Spreecast, Google Glass, Tout, and Storyful, which he calls the “AP of the future”.

And finally… what keep him awake at night?

“We have naturally gravitated towards iOS because people are showing a willingness to pay. But the world growth in mobile is increasingly happening, especially outside the U.S., on Android.”

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