Saturday, March 19, 2016

14,500 friends lay out cash for aggressive journalism

Amid all the bad news about business models for high-quality journalism, ("The Daily") in Spain shows that good journalism can be good business.

Escolar: "Journalism is a public service that has to be profitable"
Its founder and CEO, Ignacio Escolar, just announced that the publication finished 2015 with revenues of US$ 2.6 million, up 33% on the year, and a profit after taxes of US$ 235,000.

Although the digital publication is free, its 14,500 "partners" (socios) pay at least US$ 66 a year to get access to the news a few hours ahead of everyone else as well as ad-free pages, discounts, and invitations to events.

Those partners brought in about a third of's revenues, "And they allow us to remain independent," Escolar said in his announcement. Although advertising brings in more than the partner revenue, no single advertiser comes close to bringing in what the partners do, so none has enough leverage to influence editorial decisions, he said.

Versión en español

Friday, March 11, 2016

Is Facebook swallowing journalism? Embrace it, says Washington Post's digital chief

Emilio Garcia-Ruiz speaks to the press in Huesca. Photo by EFE
HUESCA, Spain -- Yes, it’s good to have a billionaire owner with patience, but it’s even better to have a billionaire owner with a vision.

And the vision of Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos is that a news organization has to make its work available free, everywhere.

Bezos is urging the publication's journalists to adopt the principles of retail sales that he has learned over the years in running Amazon, America's largest online retailer of practically everything.

And the man who is putting that vision into practice is Emilio Garcia-Ruiz, the Post's managing editor for digital.

Versión en español

A fundamental concept in retail strategy is the sales funnel, Garcia-Ruiz said in his keynote address March 10 at the Digital Journalism Conference in Huesca, Spain. The idea is to get as many people as possible to sample your product (in journalism, it's through sharing in social networks), get them to pay for a product, and then make them repeat buyers for higher-value products. At each stage the pool of customers is smaller but spending more.

The key in a business sense, said Garcia-Ruiz, is to keep expanding that pool at the top of the funnel, just as Amazon has done in retail. And from a journalism perspective, the key is to merge the best journalism with the best technology to keep people coming back for more.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Your career is an adventure: Be an adventurer

Last week the Department of Communication at the University of Navarra invited 16 alumni with interesting career paths to share their stories with the students. 

I attended four of the sessions and heard a similar comment from each of the presenters: I never imagined that I would be doing the things I am doing now in my professional career. A journalism major was hired in public relations by a German automaker, partly because he learned German during a year of study abroad. Another journalism major's assignment to cover sporting events, in which he had little expertise, eventually led to assignments covering culture and entertainment, which he loves.

Many unimaginable opportunities presented themselves at unexpected moments from unlikely sources. Professional life for them had been an adventure.

Iñaki Gabilondo, Foto de
Versión en español

The advice these alumni gave also ran along similar lines: You need to be flexible, learn at every stage of your career, and commit yourself to doing the best work you can.

These comments brought to mind an interview I heard a while ago with another graduate of the University of Navarra's journalism program, an icon of Spanish radio and television, Iñaki Gabilondo. He spent two decades at the head of one of Spain's most-listened-to daily news radio programs, anchored a nightly news program and today has a video commentary blog called the Voice of Iñaki (La voz de Iñaki, Spanish).