The news industry has been “too slow to move away from the burning platforms on which they were sitting” as income from print has plummeted in the face of digital disruption, journalists and media executives heard today.
Alistair MacCallum, chief executive of media agency M/Six made the comments at Press Gazette’s Digital Journalism Summit, hosted by News UK at its London Bridge headquarters.
“The industry needs to have the courage to change the things they can,” he said, adding: “It’s about content solutions as much as it is about display. Embrace change and be brave is the best advice I can give you.”
His comments come as the Duopoly of Google and Facebook, against whom Press Gazette has launched a campaign calling on them to “stop destroying journalism” and pay more back to news publishers, faced criticism from the industry.
Henry Faure Walker, chief executive of regional publisher Newsquest, accused the web giants of “free-riding” off of the “great content that professional publishers produce” for years, adding: “If we are lucky we get a dew crumbs off the table.”
Daniel Spears, director of programmatic at Guardian News and Media, said the paper had “quite a healthy relationship with Google,” but that Facebook was a “very different story”.
He said: “We have a pretty negative perception of Facebook. Our view is that they are solely interested in chasing audiences and actually our content is just a small part of that machine. We don’t use [Facebook news platform] Instant Articles.”
He added: “Publishers need to get control over their supply chain and that’s where we need to be more careful in who we work with and one what basis.”
Asked what their thoughts were on Press Gazette’s Duopoly campaign, Google’s UK director of news partnerships Madhav Chinnappa said he” did not accept the premise of the campaign”.
He said: “When it comes to display advertising, Google is a supplier, that means we only make money when publishers make money so we want that to grow. We are part of that ecosystem.”
Patrick Walker, Facebook’s head of media partnerships, said that a lot of the money the platform had been making from digital advertising was from new advertisers.
He added: “The world is moving very quickly. This is explosion of digital advertising is an opportunity open to everyone.”
He also pointed to work Facebook was doing to help news outlets sell subscriptions on the platform and through the Facebook Journalism Project.
Picture: Press Gazette/James Young