Back to the Future: The Revolution of Publishing

Posted by Zohar Dayan on Nov 19, 2015 8:54:57 PM

Topics: Editorial Resources


A version of this article was originally published  by VideoInk.

It’s hard to believe that ten years ago YouTube, The Huffington Post, BuzzFeed, and Refinery29 were nothing more than fledgling websites. Over the past decade we’ve seen a revolution in publishing as new media giants reinvigorate the industry by capitalizing on new formats and technologies. As the last decade’s upstarts get cozy in their seats in the media pantheon, one wonders when the next seismic change in publishing is set to come.

The announcement of Facebook Instant Articles is the first piece of a puzzle that’s beginning to come together, showing that the future of publishing will be fast, on the sites you’re already spending time on, and intuitive and driven by consumer preference. When we think back on the history of publishing, from Gutenberg’s printing press in the 1440s, to typewriters in 1860s, and even tablet readers today, technology has always been the catalyst of growth for media. Traditional publishers need to get back to basics, and re-establish the fruitful partnership between publishing and technological innovation in order to succeed in today’s media climate.

In my mind, there are three major trends that will explode in the next few years that traditional publishers will need to embrace in order to thrive in the next wave of the media revolution.

Focus on Digestibility & Snackability

Written forms that decrease the length and delivery of content have always been met with resistance, but ultimately find their way to critical and commercial success–let’s not forget the novel was panned as a second-rate written form until a woman named Jane Austen started changing everyone’s mind. With the increase of mobile use, the decrease of attention spans, and the social nature of sharing information, traditional media players need to invest in content strategies that package and present long-form, traditional news content in more digestible formats for today’s viewers across devices. The success of autoplay video, short-form video content from companies like AOL and Vessel, and the newly popular listicle reporting style already show the present value of digestibility–now it’s about taking it to the next level.

Accessibility Through Multi-Platform Content Creation and Curation

With rapidly changing consumer habits and advancements in personal tech, it’s essential that publishers are no longer tethered solely to traditional long form media. Instead, they need to diversify to distribute content on as many platforms as possible. Newspaper publishers know that accessibility is key, and have made a point to have their content available where their consumers are–newsies used to hand out papers on the corner at the turn of the century, paper boys threw the news to front yards on bikes in the suburbs in the 50s, and content is delivered on mobile today.

Technology is evolving to support quick glance updates like the Apple Watch, and multi-platform video integration is crucial for publishers to keep up. Be it a Snapchat that lasts a few seconds, or a Smart TV channel that consistently airs content, publishers need to reimagine distribution, rethinking what they can offer their audience, where they can reach them, and what type of content should work on which device.

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Invest in Automation

Automated news content is an inexpensive way to generate revenue through new digital channels. As publishers find new ways of monetizing content, they’ll be able to restructure newsrooms to be more suited for digital media. While the idea of partially turning over the reigns of their editorial content to an algorithm can sound threatening at first, for editors, automation is an ally and not an enemy. And some of the biggest names are already using it to assist in writing financial stories, sports updates, or even video summaries.

Each of these separate but interconnected innovations speak to how fast-paced and in-demand the business of content has become. Media is a greater part of our daily lives than ever before, and readers are constantly looking for the fastest, most convenient way to consume it. Traditional newspapers and magazines are evolving to become full-fledged “media companies” through this adoption of new platforms and new ways of accessing content. Those publishers who make a commitment to technology will again see the types of success that the publishing industry experienced in its heyday–and more importantly, innovations in media will allow us to reimagine how we experience the news.