They are some of the biggest names in media today — so well-known that the President has aimed attack tweets at more than one of them — but is that enough to thrive in today’s cluttered communications climate?
In a word, no.
And yet, according to panelists at the New York Women in Communications’ panel, The Clicks Are In: How Major Media Brands Maintain Trust in the Era of Viral Media, held on Oct. 19, 2017, at Time Inc. headquarters during Communications Week, while the game is ever-changing, the real work remains the same: Finding the facts and telling the story.
Moderated by Joanne Lipman, senior vice president and chief content officer of Gannett and editor-in-chief of USA Today, the wide-ranging conversation of the state of the media industry featured Edward Felsenthal, editor-in-chief of Time; Mindy Massucci, head of Bloomberg LP’s soon-to-launch Twitter network; Allison Murphy, vice president of ad products & news partnerships for the New York Times; and Shareen Pathak, co-executive editor of Digiday.
“People want our brands because of the swirl of misinformation elsewhere,” Edward observed. “Audiences come to us largely because of the abundance of false news out there.” He is, indeed, optimistic about the media industry’s future: “We’re seeing record audiences and are learning the power of our own authority.”
The panelists agreed that they are learning the power — and pitfalls — of new platforms changing our industry. “Social media give us a unique platform for users to engage and establish trust,” said Mindy, who noted that Bloomberg aims to be as bipartisan as possible in its reporting. “Our part is to make sure that the data and facts are there to let consumers draw their own conclusions.” Allison agreed, adding that the “best way to build trust with our audience is to look for those facts.”
Another great way to build trust is through increased transparency in reporting — a trend that has been helped by the proliferation of podcasts. “Podcasts are a great, unfiltered way to tell news stories,” explained Shareen, whose brand has been producing shows featuring interviews with media leaders since 2015. “Through this technology, outlets can talk to their sources directly.”
Of course, podcasts are only one new way to tell stories. Increasingly, said Allison, the Times is considering upfront all the methods it wants to use in presenting its reporting, from video to print to social to digital. “How we tell a story, share it on the best platform and translate on other platforms, are all important,” she said.
So, too, is the question of revenue, which, not surprisingly, continues to be a key concern for all media properties today. “Not long ago, ads and audience flowed in,” said Edward. “Now we have to go find the audience where they are.” And Mindy agreed, noting, “If you’re going to pitch a story, you have to monetize it.”
Photos: Jan Goldstoff