Keeping audience engaged, the main objective
April 21, 2017

At the two-day Digital Media Conference organised by WAN-IFRA recently in New Delhi, attended by the delegates from the US, London and the other parts of the world, the focus was on how new media was changing not only newsrooms but also consumer behaviour. Safina Nabi, who attended the first day of the conference, filed this report

The themes and discussion at the two-day Digital Media Conference organised by WAN-IFRA in New Delhi ranged from online to mobile and video journalism. Mobile technology is changing the way we consume information and share ideas. Introduction of new technologies such as 3G and 4G has opened new doors to untouched information and insights into the far-flung worlds.

“Our aim in life is the engagement with the audience and we are giving our best to create, build, and produce great content that keeps the audience engaged,” said Rajesh Priyadarshi, Digital editor, BBC, India, setting the tone for his presentation.

Priyadarshi was speaking about innovative ways to deliver content for a mobile audience, about the changing paradigm and challenges that needed to be tackled on an everyday basis. “Mobile journalism added different nuances to the field that we would have not thought of ten years before. It’s about immediate response, it’s always on, it’s interactive and the most important factor is that people sitting in newsrooms don’t decide the content but the consumer decides what he/she wants to consume.”

Mark Egan, former BBC video journalist and an expert on mobile video, highlighted the use and the advantages that mobile journalism provides. “Mobile is a multimedia device and as a storyteller you can use it in an enormous way for generating content. One should be able to use it appropriately and in an efficient manner. A journalist is not believed to build 30 stories in a day but only one story but he/ she should be able to construct it in a way that it will be a hit.”

Egan spoke about the future of the mobile journalism, how far we could make use of the device. “We believe in going far but a research revealed that only 11 per cent of the total women are among the consumers. We should ask them to come to us and walk through this journey and that is going to be tricky, how we will achieve it.”

Video scores
Visuals are more powerful than content but what better than a video? It all started when Dougal Shaw, a BBC video journalist, accidentally drained the battery of his camera before a shoot at a local cafe. He had two choices: go home, or go mobile. He filmed his required shots, interviews and all, entirely on his phone – and was so satisfied with the results, he choose to ditch his trusted Canon C100 camera for a month and work exclusively on his iPhone 6S Plus.

“Producing videos is costly and a time-consuming process. With a mobile phone you may record a story and it will be a hit. However, a story should be well told and it must be an interesting issue. People will go and watch it and are going to love you, said Chuna Chin Hon, associate editor, Today Media Group, Singapore.

Hindustan Times video journalist Yousuf Omar, while covering a story about the drug menace in Punjab, was not able to get the details when he revealed his identity and carried a camera. Later, he shot the entire story on a mobile phone and in less than 24 hours he got around 10000 views.

“Smartphones nowadays is a mobile newsroom in one’s pocket. If one knows how to use it, wonders are not far. By filming a video appropriately, horizontally and manually controlling the focus, brightness and colour balance, journalists can easily produce broadcast-quality videos as over the period of time the quality of mobile cameras has improved drastically,” said Ben Shaw, director, Global Advisory, WAN-IFRA, Germany.

Heena Kausar, a journalist covering the Delhi University protests, shot a video and uploaded it on her Facebook account. Although the video quality was not all that great, she had almost 7000 views in less than eight hours. A clear indication that if you have an interesting topic and make an effort, you will find people interested.
“It’s very tough to retain readers. Publishers now have to think like consumers and develop the offerings that command. This will not only help retain readers but also is a trick to make consumers willing to pay,” said Anushree Goenka, “One of the important aspects of the trade is to reconfigure the organisation to listen to consumers and develop loyalty and relationship with them.”

Online journalism
An online effort that has changed the face of news in Kerala is Malayala Manorama, which founded and introduced the first online portal; Manorama Online. Said Santhosh George Jacob, head – Content, Manorama Online: “Manorama works on Adobe support but we also have a small internal team of around 80 people and our main focused approach is to produce content only. We have a priority to produce content keeping in mind the audience of Kerala as we are appreciated for producing 80 per cent authentic content.”

With a global reach and separate editions in English and Malayalam, Manorama has 30 channels, including three news channels, six radio stations and 50 magazines, present across the digital platforms. “Our cost as operation is majorly spent on technology; almost 90 per cent of the total cost, as 60 per cent of our traffic is from around the globe. We have more than 5000 contributors who write for us under their own names as contributors. As a brand this helps us to keep our content fresh and different. It also helps young and upcoming writers to publish their content with due credits and encourages them to keep moving forward,” said Jacob.

April 2017