DLD has an habit to go beyond the buzzwords, to explore the real-world truth behind the concepts. So naturally, when a star-studded panel (Katharina Borchert of Spiegel Online, Donata Hopfen of BILD digital and Svetlana Mironyuk of RIA Novosti) discussed what’s new in news, honest answers are expected, as well as hints of an healthy competition among panelists.
First item on the menu: online media. It is really a different job to publish news online than on print? For Borchert, at the Spiegel Online, “the scope of what we cover online is broader, but we are very much hard-news driven”, similarly to the coverage of the weekly magazine. Their work benefits from the format, too: “linking to things on the web, including blogs, can be considered original sources.”
Hopfen told the audience that Bild online works with more short stories, and is primarily picture-driven. Both composition of the webpage and exclusivity of content are crucial for them and their 30 million Unique Visitors a month (vs 11 million for the Spiegel Online). As a (state-owned) russian news agency, it was easier for Ria Novosti to adapt to the Web and its audience than a print publication, explained Mironyuk.
What about mobile technology and women, the moderator, Hubert Burda Media’s very own Jean-Paul Schmetz asked. Mironyuk said that in Russia, women don’t consume news in the office, they listen to the radio or use mobile devices. Bild’s usage peaks for mobile connections are at 7am and 11pm, when one wakes up or goes to bed, explained Hopfen, before adding “It means we have to work 24/7.” Borchert said that, so far, the Spiegel mobile users were either very much sport-driven or looking for a quick update on a breaking news.
Last but not least, the role of social media. Is it truly a game changer? For the CEO of SPIEGEL Online, the ambivalence of putting your content out and having other sources of traffic is big. For instance, the question of the Facebook reader remains. Hopfen was more skeptical: “we have Facebook channels, it works well, but it’s not like Bild drive more than 1% of our traffic from Facebook”.
For Spiegel Online, “Facebook drives 3% of our traffic to the site. But it’s not about figures, it’s to stay relevant and reach the young audience” complemented Borchert. Bringing an exterior perspective, Mironyuk concluded with a twist: “in social media in Russia, users feel less control from the State. So they express their feelings. As a result, social media are seen as new media and news websites are seen as old, mainstream.”
As the new generation gets its news almost exclusively from social media, news websites seems to be facing an new competitor, formerly thought to be an ally.