Adaptación digital en las noticias
More than a quarter century after the creation of the World Wide Web, nine in ten Americans get at least some news online. But in many ways, local news publishing is still adapting to the internet as a news medium. For many publishers, the internet is like an ill-fitting suit: functional, but not made for them.
On the whole, newspapers, broadcasters and digital-native publishers hold a few things in common: Most are online, serve advertising, and have a Facebook profile.
But not all share even those attributes. About one in ten local news outlets do not have a website. Some outlets do not have a presence on Facebook. And there are even some local news outlets that seem to have leapfrogged past web 1.0 and straight to social media.
In many other respects, the digital footprint of a local news outlet can be predicted by the identity of its legacy platform. Video and audio content makes an appearance on many local news websites, though mostly on those operated by broadcasters. Some local news outlets offer comment sections below their online news stories, but these skew heavily toward text-friendly newspaper websites, rather than those of television stations. Indeed, the notion of platform convergence, at least in local news, is only partially realized.
Media attention to the “duopoly” dominating the digital advertising market has focused more on Facebook than on Google. But the latter’s many tentacles in the online local news space are striking. Not only are publishers indexed in Google’s search engine and their pages’ loading times optimized by Google’s AMP project, but Google advertising services appear on many local news websites. Further, nearly half of all local news websites that offer online video host it on YouTube, which is owned by Google. It’s a reminder of the degree to which the fortunes of local news are bound up in the whims of a few big technology companies.
Individual local media sectors find themselves in 2018 at varying stages of digital advancement. But the largest of these—community weekly papers—is in many ways lagging behind the rest. Weeklies are half as likely as their daily counterparts to offer digital video content and newsletters, and far less likely than dailies to offer an online subscription option. They’re among the least likely of all local media to offer podcasts as well.
To be sure, not all online features are desirable or ultimately beneficial for news audiences. And different publishers serve communities with their own sets of technology habits and preferences. Digital offerings advisable for an online publisher in a large metropolitan area might not be advisable for a rural community weekly newspaper. Still, the widespread adoption of smartphones and usage of social media across nearly all sub-populations in the United States suggests that some common priorities for news publishers should be coming into focus.
There are some signs that, at least on a basic level, publishers are seeing the writing on the wall and prioritizing accordingly. For example, only about a quarter of local news outlets maintain their own mobile app, which, with some exceptions, may simply not be worth the effort to build and update. But the vast majority offer a mobile browsing experience that is optimized for small screens—an important user experience feature. Individually hosted websites—as opposed to those hosted by Google’s AMP service—continue to be slow-loading, however; a problem that risks losing audiences in today’s highly mobile and competitive attention economy.
These are some findings from a study of the digital footprint of more than 2,000 US local news outlets. While many studies have explored digital transformation of newsrooms through direct interviews, case studies and ethnography, this report attempts to tell the story of that transformation by the numbers.1 The study also offers comparative perspective between various sectors of local media—including radio and television broadcast, daily and weekly print, digital-native publishers and collegiate press.
Key findings from the report
- More than one in ten (12%) local news outlets do not have their own website; when outlets are accounted for that only offer a PDF of their recent content, that figure rises to 17%.
- Most local media are on social media. Nearly eight in ten local news outlets have their own Facebook profile. Even outlets without their own website are on the social networking site—fully one in three (34%).
- When it comes to mobile, responsive design is more common (84% of local news sites) than individual apps (27% of local news outlets). Fully 74% of local TV stations offer their own app.
- Overall, a slight majority of local news outlets (57%) offer an online pathway to subscription, donation or membership. This varies wildly depending on the sector, with broadcasters highly unlikely to do so, and daily newspapers highly likely.
- Local news websites are generally split when it comes to their commenting architecture—a small majority (56% of outlets) offer comment sections on their stories. (On local TV station websites, the share is just 29%).
- Just under half (47%) of local news outlets offer video on their site. Of those that do, 44% host their videos on YouTube.
- Links to live-streams of video or audio (16%) and podcasts (11%) are fairly uncommon among local news websites, though unsurprisingly, appear more frequently on sites operated by broadcasters.
- On average, daily newspaper and local TV station websites are the slowest to load, at more than 20 seconds each, by one measure. Digital native publishers, and community weeklies and magazines tend to load faster, at a rate of between 13-15 seconds each.
- Only about a quarter (23%) of local news websites redirect to a secure version. Overall, about four in ten (39%) local news outlets offer or promote a newsletter product on their website. Daily newspapers (65%) and digital native publishers (57%) lead the way here.
This study was conducted using several different methods between Fall 2017 and Spring 2018. A random sample of local news publishers was drawn from a database of outlets prepared by the News Measures Research Project, based off of the Cision Media Database.2 A range of digital attributes were coded manually by a team of researchers. An additional set of attributes were collected programmatically by Tow Center staff. More details on the methodology can be found below.
This report looks at the digital attributes of local news publishers in the United States. The study was designed in August 2017, with data collection of varying methods taking place between September 2017 and March 2018.
The sample of local news outlets used in this project was drawn randomly from a large database of local publishers created by the News Measures Research Project based in turn on data from the Cision Media Database. The Cision database, while imperfect, is described by the NMRP authors as “the best available commercial database for identifying media outlets and media workers in the US3” While the Cision database is updated daily, the list of outlets for this project was extracted in 2016.
The research team further cleaned the NMRP data to eliminate a small number of duplicates and irregularities. This resulted in a dataset of 11,804 local news publishers. Each outlet was assigned a random digit using a random number generator, after which a 20% sample was drawn. While the dataset generally reflects the broader local media landscape, it is limited in some respects. Certain media sectors are likely underrepresented in total population, particularly, digital-native publications and collegiate press.
This sample resulted in a total of 2,361 local news outlets. During the process of analyzing those outlets, a number of publishers were deemed to be closed, dormant or not related to local news. (For purposes of this study, an outlet was considered “local” if it covered affairs in a single neighborhood, municipality, metropolitan area, and in some cases even state affairs, though few outlets fell into this latter category; publishers such as The Bitter Southerner were removed given their broad regional coverage.) These were eliminated from the dataset, resulting in a more refined sample of 2,072 outlets.
Of the 2,072 local news outlets studied, a total of 1,814 were found to have a website (following which, six outlets were eliminated due to hard paywalls that prevented any in-depth analysis). The final list of 1,808 sites were studied and evaluated for each of the attributes in the coding protocol.
Manual attribute classification
A coding protocol was developed and refined between two members of the research team (see Appendix B). Inter-coder reliability was tested on 50 local news outlets, with the following results (reported using Krippendorff’s alpha; calculations conducted with ReCal):
- Paywall present: .77
- Comment section present: .85
- Video on the web: .84
- Offers/promotes newsletters: .67
- Offers/promotes podcasts: 1.00
- Offers live video or audio stream on site: 1.00
- Offers digital subscription/donate/membership: .93
- Has a mobile app (iOS): .82
- Offers mobile/responsive site: .90
A score of .67 is generally considered acceptable using this measure.
Two researchers analyzed the sample of outlets during the months of September 2017 through March 2018.
Programmatic attribute classification
A separate analysis was conducted using the 1,808 local news outlets with valid websites in the sample, to glean more information about the sites’ digital security, ad tech, social media profiles, and load time. This analysis resulted in valid data for 1,102 of those sites, or 61%.
This analysis was conducted using Google’s Lighthouse tools for developers.4
MOBILE NEWS OFFERINGS
News publishers are rightly concerned about how to best reach news audiences on mobile devices, given that the vast majority of the public are now engaging with news on their cell phones.5 Some in the publishing profession have moved into exploring chat apps such as WeChat and WhatsApp as a point of intersection with news consumers.6In the US, major non-local publishers such as CNN got on board early when it came to Snapchat Discover, though now local broadcasters are finding a home on the app as well.7
While there are many possible ways to measure how local newsrooms are applying a mobile content strategy, this study offers two vantage points: mobile apps (in iOS) and responsive website design for mobile browsers.
Relatively few local news outlets offer their own mobile app, but the numbers vary widely from media sector to media sector. Overall, about a quarter (27%) of local news outlets offer an app in the Apple operating system (the Android platform was not evaluated for this project).
Apps are more common for broadcast outlets and in daily newspapers, but less so for smaller digital operations and community publications. Fully 74% of local TV stations, many of them supported by an owner with resources to scale, have their own app. In addition, some stations are offering niche products, such as weather apps.8 Nearly half of radio stations (46%) have a mobile app, and slightly more than half of daily newspapers (55%) do as well.
Aside from broadcasters and dailies, most local publishers do not offer mobile apps. For instance, fewer than one in ten (8%) community weeklies have one. And it’s entirely possible this indicates a wise allocation of resources: Priya Ganapati, head of audience product at Vox Media, made the case back in 2015 that unless an outlet is a large, leading brand, the cons outweigh the pros when it comes to mobile app development: It’s too much hassle for a product that most of your audience will not use.9
Instead, Ganapati and other strategists make the case for publishers improving their users’ mobile browser experience. One way to do that is by adopting a responsive design. According to Google’s Pete LaPage, responsive web design “responds to the needs of the users and the devices they’re using. The layout changes based on the size and capabilities of the device.”10
To gauge whether local publishers are adopting responsive design for mobile phones, researchers for this study evaluated a smaller, random subset of the larger sample—200 websites. Of this sample, the vast majority (84%) offered a mobile responsive version of their website.
GENERATING REVENUE ONLINE
With few exceptions, local news publishers are still struggling to build a sustainable online business model. It is now widely accepted that revenue from digital advertising will never approach the kind of money generated in the salad days of print. That acceptance has moved many newspaper publishers to pursue digital subscription models that place some of their content behind paywalls. Meanwhile, news outlets of all types, including broadcast television and radio, do what they can to generate some ad revenue online, though sometimes through means that degrade the user experience.
While there are many potential revenue streams for news publishers, and many variants on the common ones, three basic indicators offer a baseline sense of what local news outlets are trying to do: subscription or membership pathways; paywalls; and advertising.
Online pathways to subscribe, donate or join
This analysis finds that, overall, a slight majority of local news outlets (57%) offer an online pathway to subscription, donation or membership. This differs substantially depending on the type of outlet, however.
Print outlets (daily, weekly and magazine publishers) are most likely to offer a pathway to pay. Broadcast outlets (radio and TV) and collegiate media are least likely to offer one.
When it comes to print, daily publications and those that publish less frequently differ as well. Fully 94% of daily newspapers studied here offer an option to subscribe online. Yet little more than two-thirds of community weeklies (69%) and community magazines (68%) offer such an option on their websites.
Why the disparity among print outlets? There may be a couple of reasons. First, daily papers may simply have more advanced digital operations than other local print outlets, including pathways to pay. Second, daily papers may rely on subscription revenue more than these other types of publishers do, and thus prioritize it online. Circulation revenue is growing for the industry overall, but the data suggest that as advertising continues to wither as a primary source of local journalism revenue, these weekly and monthly publications will have more ground to make up in the race to create direct financial relationships with subscribers.
This is a problem that will seriously affect digital-native community publishers, who according to other research have been chiefly driven by advertising.11 This study funds that just one-third (34%) of these types of publishers offer an opportunity for a reader to contribute by donation, subscription or membership.
Commercial radio as well as local and network and television are historically almost entirely dependent on over-the-air advertising for their revenue (a recent exception for local TV is the rise of retransmission fees as a minor but growing source of cash).12 Thus it is no surprise that a minority of broadcasters offer online subscription, membership or donation options (21% of radio stations and 19% of TV stations). It is likely that almost all of those that do offer such options are public broadcasters, who rely on memberships and other types of donations for ongoing support.
Other studies have extensively documented the adoption of paywalls on newspaper websites. One report from 2016 found that 78% of large US newspapers (those with circulation of at least 50,000) have some kind of online paywall.13
This study does not duplicate that work, but rather takes a closer look at community weeklies—a large if sometimes overlooked segment of the newspaper world that has historically been less reliant than dailies on circulation revenue. About one in three (28%) of these types of papers gate at least some of their content.
In most cases, community weekly paywalls operate with a metered approach. A very small portion post a hard paywall, which means that all or nearly all content is accessible only to subscribers.
Among other types of local publishers, such as digital-native outlets and broadcasters, paywalls are quite rare.
The vast majority of local news publishers serve digital advertising of one kind or another, though with the exception of some digital native publishers, this revenue accounts for a small share of the bottom line.
But what kinds of ads are served? Most of the time, it’s display ads, coming in the form of banners and still, sometimes, pop-ups. Some local publishers are also experimenting with native advertising.14
This study set out not to evaluate the entire range of digital advertising served by local publishers, but a specific subset of that: the viral ad tech that has found itself the subject of criticism lately. These content recommendation services—particularly Taboola and Outbrain—have put some publishers in a bind: Many journalists consider the material promoted by these services to be low-quality clickbait. Yet, for the last few years at least, publishers have generated a solid base of revenue in exchange for allowing content recommendation service widgets to appear on their websites.
To get a sense of how common it is for local publishers to use these services, once again we turned to a smaller random sub-sample of 200 local news websites. Of those sites, we found that only a small portion (17%) have the Outbrain or Taboola content widget on their home page. Contrast that to the presence of Google/Doubleclick ad tech on local news sites—a service that appears in 58% of local news websites.
Engagement with online audiences
There are many opportunities and platforms today through which local news publishers can foster meaningful engagement with their communities. Some are in person, such as events, meetups and community listening sessions. Others are primarily digital and include a variety of touchpoints such as texting, Facebook groups, Slack channels and message boards. To arrive at a basic measure of how local news outlets are doing when it comes to online engagement with their audiences, this study measured two values: the presence or lack of comment sections under news stories, and the presence or absence of social platforms attached to the publisher’s brand.
Comment sections on news websites are sometimes treated by the journalism community with a mixture of tolerance and contempt. “Don’t read the comments” is the often-heard refrain coming from editors and reporters who have, well, spent time reading comments on their websites and have subjected themselves to toxic doses of trolling and general incivility. On the other hand, comment sections offer an opportunity, primitive as it may be, for audiences to discuss the content they are reading, and perhaps even interact with a brave journalist.15
This analysis found that local news websites were generally split when it came to their commenting architecture—a small majority (56% of outlets) offer comment sections on their stories. The rest do not.
Across media sectors, the practice seems to vary dramatically. Digital-native publishers (80%) and collegiate press (87%) are most likely to offer comment sections under their stories, with daily newspapers not far behind, at 76%. However, just one in three local TV stations (29%) studied here offer comment sections at the end of their stories.
Research has shown that social media is a pathway to community news for many.16 But social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram offer community members an opportunity to interact with stories and journalists through “likes,” emojis, comments, shares and other metrics.
This study offers a limited but revealing look at how local news outlets around the US are utilizing social media, by accounting for whether a local outlet operates a Facebook or Twitter profile.
Looking across all local media, a solid majority are on Facebook (78%), while just over half (54%) are on Twitter.
A look at individual media sectors suggests it is smaller community newspapers—of which there are many—that account for a good portion of the publishers that do not have a social media presence. About twothirds of these papers (67%) are on Facebook, and just a quarter (24%) are on Twitter. By contrast, large majorities of other types of local news outlets have Facebook accounts, and in most cases, the lion’s share have Twitter accounts as well. In some cases, such as with local TV, one would be hard pressed to find a station that is not also active on the social web, a finding underscored by a 2018 Knight Foundation report on the state of local TV.17
What’s more, even local news outlets without their own websites are sometimes found on Facebook, perhaps suggesting a leapfrog effect; after all, it is easier to create a social media profile than to wrangle a WordPress template. Fully 34% of those “offline” publishers have an active Facebook page.
Audio & video: Not just for broadcasters
Local news outlets, and television broadcasters in particular, face something of a dilemma when it comes to choices around digital video. When it comes to audience, traditional television viewing outpaces digital consumption of local TV content, though that traditional television audience is shrinking.18 At the same time, mirroring print, legacy revenue streams continue to account for the overwhelming bulk of local news broadcasters’ monetary intake; for local television, over-the-air advertising far overshadows digital advertising in sheer dollars.19
Further complicating matters, while there is evidence that the public is turning in droves to streaming services for television consumption, news is not an overwhelming part of that mix.20 Indeed, as of 2013, just 36% of US adults reported watching online news video, a number that had only risen 10 points from 2007 levels, while other forms of video consumption have risen much more dramatically.21 As of 2016, people who prefer to watch their news (as opposed to reading or listening to it) overwhelmingly chose television over the internet as their viewing platform of choice.22 The overhyped and quickly lamented “pivot to video,” it seems, sent publishers—especially national digital ones—chasing at great cost an audience that never materialized.
Still, many local news outlets and their owners have decided that video should be a part of their digital offerings, even if audience interest is tepid and substantial revenue opportunities have yet to appear. This analysis found that across all local media sectors (including print, broadcast and digital-native publishers), nearly half (47%) offered video on their websites.
YouTube plays an outsize role when it comes to hosting digital news video for local news outlets. The websites with video offerings were split in terms of how those videos were hosted: Just over half the sites (51%) self-hosted news videos. The majority of the rest embedded video through a third-party hosting service, almost exclusively YouTube (44%).
The inclusion of digital video was evident across a wide range of media sectors, but especially in broadcast. Perhaps unsurprisingly, nearly every local television station studied (96%) offered some form of video on their website. Yet video made an appearance on a solid majority of daily newspaper websites as well (66%). Other print sectors including community newspapers and magazines were less interested in video, as were digital-native community publishers.
Most of the video found on local news websites was pre-recorded, in many cases repurposed from television broadcasts. But a small portion of websites (16%) also featured live streams of video or audio content. Unlike pre-recorded video, in these cases radio had the edge with fully 81% of news radio websites offering a live stream of their audio broadcasts. A little more than half (55%) of local TV news websites offered a live stream, often of the morning or evening newscast as it occurred. In other forms of media, live streams were nearly absent: among print, digital and collegiate press sectors, 5% or less featured a live stream of any kind.
Podcasting has been around for decades, but in the last few years has enjoyed a renaissance in the journalism world as organizations such as NPR and startups such as Gimlet Media have produced breakthrough hits that embrace the medium and offer compelling, fact-based storytelling. To judge the extent to which local news publishers have jumped on board the podcasting bandwagon, this study examined their websites for evidence of any kind of podcast promotion or link.
This analysis suggests that podcasting has not achieved critical mass in the local news world, with just one in ten (11%) of local news outlets promoting or linking to a podcast on their website. Leading the way are radio broadcasters, which include a mix of commercial radio stations and public radio stations. Half of these (50%) offer podcasts. Other local media sectors lag behind. One-fifth of digital-native community publishers and college or university newspapers offer podcasts. Among print media, just 11% of daily papers, 2% of community weeklies and 4% of magazines offer podcasts. Among TV stations, it was just 12%.
It is certainly possible and perhaps even likely that some outlets offer podcasts but simply do not promote them on their website, for one reason or another. For that reason, it’s wiser to consider the data here as reflective of a minimum rather than maximum share of publishers in the podcasting space.
THE USER EXPERIENCE
IN ONLINE LOCAL NEWS
Longtime journalism entrepreneur and current CEO of Spirited Media Jim Brady once wrote that the need for more page views and ad impressions in local news “led to what can only be described as the excruciating user experience of most local news sites.”23
Brady’s litany of local new sins includes slow website load times, pop-up ads, autoplay video and slideshows, with their pagination designed to drive users to click on more pages.
Here we considered first whether local news publishers have any web presence at all. Beyond that, load time is analyzed, as well as two other offerings related to user experience: alternative news delivery platforms and digital security.
In order for an online news consumer to have a positive user experience there must be a user experience to begin with. In light of that, it is striking to note that more than one in ten (12%) local news outlets do not have a website at all.
Cuántos suscriptores de pago tienen los periódicos digitales
La apuesta por los contenidos de pago en medios de comunicación parece que empieza a dar sus frutos, aunque tanto el éxito como las estrategias son desiguales. Te contamos cuántos suscriptores de pago tienen los periódicos digitales, cuánto cuestan las suscripciones de pago y qué periódicos lideran en número de suscriptores.
Las suscripciones de pago son la tabla de salvación de los medios digitales. Pero cobrar por las noticias es una estrategia difícil de implementar y supone dar un paso adelante que muchos medios no pueden o no quieren asumir, generalmente por miedo a perder suscriptores.
A pesar de ello, ya hay decenas de medios que han implantado con éxito sistemas de pago, aunque con diferentes estrategias y, en cualquier caso, con un éxito dispar.
El FIPP, en su '2018 Global Digital Subscription Snapshot', destaca cuántos suscriptores de pago tienen los periódicos digitales, así como el precio de las suscripciones y los periódicos líderes en suscriptores, y lo hace en una tabla que permite tomar ideas para elaborar estrategias de pago en los medios que puedan lograr en ansiado equilibrio financiero sin renunciar al público.
En el primer puesto no hay sorpresas: 'The New York Times' es el periódico con más suscriptores de pago en su edición digital, alcanzando los 2,8 millones. Pagan alrededor de 8,66 dólares mensuales por acceder a las noticias del rotativo neoyorkino, al que sigue en la clasificación 'The Wall Street Journal'con más de 1,3 millones de suscriptores a razón de 36,99 dólares al mes. En tercer lugar, 'The Washington Post'; el diario de Jeff Bezos aglutina un millón de suscriptores que pagan unos 10,83 dólares mensuales por acceder a sus contenidos.
Los diarios europeos, líderes en suscripciones de pago
Si los tres primeros puestos están ocupados por diarios estadounidenses, el resto de la tabla deja prácticamente fuera al país. En cuarto lugar, por ejemplo, se ubica el 'Financial Times', que suma 720.000 suscriptores de pago a razón de 36 dólares mensuales. Al diario británico le sigue el alemán 'Bild', que logra superar los 390.000 suscriptores; pagan unos 5,83 dólares al mes.
Dos británicos continúan la tabla: 'The Economist' (350.000 suscriptores y 10,58 dólares) y 'The Guardian' (300.000 suscriptores con una media de 6,70 dólares). Este último es un caso peculiar y un ejemplo a seguir por otras cabeceras, ya que ofrece sus noticias gratis pero permite que los lectores contribuyan al sostenimiento del medio de manera opcional. Parece que funciona, a juzgar por sus cifras.
En octavo lugar se sitúa el sueco 'Aftonbladet', con 250.000 suscriptores y un coste de 7 dólares al mes. Tras él, 'Times of London', con 220.000 suscriptores a razón de 27,82 dólares mensuales.
La tabla de los diez primeros la cierra el francés 'Le Monde', que aglutina 160.000 suscriptores que pagan alrededor de 9,72 dólares mensuales por acceder a sus contenidos.
El Sistema europeo para los copyrights en la era digital está casi listo
On 12 September, the European Parliament cast a historical vote in favour of strengthening the position of European content producers and creators in the EU Digital Single Market. Our affiliate member News Media Europe wrote this explainer specifically for WAN-IFRA non-European members.
After months of being under the siege of an aggressive lobbying strategy from the big internet platforms, which were main opponents to this piece of legislation, the European Parliament made a wise choice in favour of European creative content.
Below is a thorough analysis from Miruna Herovanu, Public Affairs Advisor for NME. For more on this topic, make sure to also read this interview with WAN-IFRA Board member and ENPA Vice President Valdo Lehari Jr.
- Short history
In order to understand what this vote actually means, we must go back two years ago when the Commission issued a Proposal for a Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market.
In its proposal, two Articles stood out as being set out in order to improve the position of European content producers and creators in the digital world, and the same two Articles ended up being the most contested ones.
Article 11 introduces a neighbouring right for press publishers and Article 13 addresses the so-called ‘value gap’ between content producers and creators, on one side, and distributors of creative content in the digital world, on the other.
Having regard to the nature of our organisation, this note will focus on Article 11 which introduces a neighbouring right for press publishers.
A neighbouring right is a so-called related right, an exclusive right that neighbours the author’s right without bringing any prejudice to the latter.
The neighbouring right protects investment in creative content and it empowers the rightholder to conclude licenses and/or find legal remedies in the case of infringement.
By giving news brands their own legal standing over the fixation of works encompassed in a news publication, publishers would have right to exploit, enforce, transfer or donate their right, a choice that they do not have today.
This measure would come in a time when all content producers: music producers, broadcasters and film producers already enjoy their own legal standing when it comes to creative content they have invested in.
What press publishers seek is to have their own legal standing in relation to the content they produce. This would put press publishers in a better legal position to potentially negotiate licenses with online platforms and aggregators.
As such, the European Commission, on 16 September 2016, published the Copyright in the Digital Single Market Proposal that contains the infamous Article 11 that would provide for a similar legal standing for European press publishers, as that already enjoyed by the other content producers (film, music, broadcasters) for the last decades.
The concept of a neighbouring right is therefore not new, it already exists in European legislation and it seems to be working well for rightholders.
However, in Article 11, the European Commission proposed a more narrow legal instrument for press publishers, especially when compared to other neighbouring rights, in the sense that it covers only digital content and has only a 20 year duration.
The reason why the European Commission proposed the introduction of an exclusive right for press publishers is that in the absence of one, the latter encountered severe obstacles when it came to licensing their digital content.
The difficulty mainly consists in the platforms’ refusal in negotiating licenses with publishers, because while news brands are legally and editorially responsible for the content they produce, they do not have the legal status to show for it.
As a result, in the past decade, press content has been massively reused by third parties without permission or remuneration and without press publishers being able to do much about it.
The proposed instrument would offer news brands their own legal standing and therefore an improved negotiating position with third parties.
It would represent a historical decision of the European institutions that would empower the European news media sector in relation to the distribution of their content in the digital world. It is an opportunity to harmonise the European Copyright regime for the proper functioning of the Digital Single Market.
In the EU, legislation is adopted by codecision between the European Parliament and the Council.
Therefore, the European Commission’s proposal was followed by negotiations within the two EU co-legislators, the European Parliament and the Council, in order to reach their respective positions regarding the Copyright in the Digital Single Market Draft Directive.
The next step is the beginning of the negotiations between the two co-legislators, assisted by the European Commission, which will result in a final Directive, a piece of EU legislation that will indicate Member States the period of time they will have to transpose the Directive into National legislation.
- The Council’s process
The first of the two co-legislators to reach a general approach was the Council which on 25 May 2018 adopted its official negotiating position.
News Media Europe cautiously welcomed the Council’s text at the time. We welcomed it because it does contain a neighbouring right for press publishers.
However, the text of Article 11 introduces rather complicated criteria, leaving space for Member States to manoeuvre in terms of the implementation of the neighbouring right for press publishers.
Such criteria could have unwanted effects when the Directive will be transposed in national legislation and will most likely defeat one of the main purposes of the European Commission, which is the harmonisation of copyright legislation across the Union.
In other words, as it stands, the text proposed by the Council would inevitably lead to market fragmentation, that would only benefit third parties that have constructed their business model around press content, without offering any remuneration to content producers.
Therefore, it is crucial that the result of the future negotiations between the Council and the European Parliament provides for a robust and enforceable neighbouring right for press publishers.
- The European Parliament’s process
The European Parliament’s journey in reaching a compromise on the Copyright in the Digital Single Market Proposal within its political climate was a very long and complicated one.
The main Committee responsible to produce the European Parliament’s position was a small, but important Committee, the Legal Affairs Committee. Besides the Legal Affairs Committee’s official Report, four other Committees expressed non-binding opinions on the Copyright in the Digital Single Market Proposed Directive and all four of them adopted a neighbouring right for press publishers.
During the negotiation period, which lasted two years, the main person in charge of leading the negotiations, the so-called Rapporteur, was changed. From July 2017, Member of the European Parliament (‘MEP’) Axel Voss (EPP, Germany) thus became the chief negotiator for Copyright in the European Parliament.
The moment of the change of Rapporteur coincided with the beginning of a fierce lobbying campaign against Articles 11 and 13 of the Copyright Proposal.
A wide series of myths and false claims bombarded the MEP’s inboxes for one straight year, reaching the high point before the Plenary vote in July.
Although all legitimate concerns raised during the debate were already addressed in the text that was put to vote in July, we sadly witnessed MEPs succumbing to pressures from Silicon Valley by voting down the Report published by the Legal Affairs Committee by a narrow 40 vote majority.
The main reason for the negative result in July was the wide and aggressive propagation of many myths and false claims that have haunted the function of the neighbouring right ever since the discussions began.
For example, it was said that this right will impede users to share links on social media.
The premise of this statement was misleading from the beginning, as press publishers are actively encouraging users to share articles on social media, as sharing gives visibility to their content and increases the highly valued trust relation between the press and its readers.
This myth was addressed by the Council and the European Parliament, which both decided that the right will apply only to information society service providers.
The more dangerous discussion was on the subject of the various criteria related to the limits of the neighbouring right.
What publishers have made very clear during this two year debate is that regardless of the size of the press-publication that is being re-used or scrapped, the investment in content remains the same, therefore all parts of a press publication deserve protection.
This negative vote gave all MEPs – including MEP Axel Voss - a chance to put forward their preferred changes to the Copyright Report (the official negotiating position of the European Parliament with Council).
In an attempt to further clarify and address any remaining concerns, the Rapporteur put forward additional changes to his own Report and, in spite of the fierce campaign against his changes, on 12 September 2018 he managed to secure a comfortable majority and therefore a stable negotiating position with Council.
What is indeed historical about the process around this Proposed legislative measure is that despite the aggressive, intimidating campaign carried by the opponents of the proposed Directive, the simple reality that content producers and creators need to benefit from a stronger legal position prevailed.
On 12 September, European parliamentarians proved that the press still represents one of the fundamental functions of our democracies and voted for fairness in the digital world.
- Next steps
The next negotiating phase of the European Institutions regarding this Directive is set to commence as soon as possible.
The next phase is the so-called “Trilogue” negotiation, a tripartite discussion between the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council. High-level representatives of all three institutions will now confront the three versions of the Proposed Copyright Directive.
The European Commission now plays a facilitator role, while the main political decisions are left to the co-legislators.
The version of Article 11 that will result from this last stage of negotiations will be a text situated between the text adopted by the Council and the text adopted by the European Parliament.
It is perhaps important to note that the European Institutions are reaching the end of their mandate in May 2019, therefore this last step is also very much under time pressure.
This last round of negotiations will probably last until the end of 2018, with a possibility to be prolonged until early next year, when a final text is expected.
This text needs to be officially endorsed by the Council and the European Parliament and if an agreement is reached it will be transposed in a certain time, called an implementation period, into the national legislations of EU Member States. We can expect the legislation to come into force in the EU by May 2019, and at Member States level around end 2019/ mid 2020.
Another possibility would be that the co-legislators will not reach a workable compromise during the current legislature of the European Parliament.
This would leave the Copyright in the Digital Single Market proposal as legacy to the next European Parliament, that according to its political configuration will decide whether to continue to work on the proposal from its last stage, or to start-over the negotiations, or to just leave the project out of the new political priorities.
This option would represent an enourmous waste of resources and would be a very important missed opportunity for the creative sector and the European institutions.
We certainly do not expect the final stage of the negotiations to be smooth. We expect the abundance of lobbying against both Articles 11 and 13 to continue.
We remain confident that European policy makers, after being bombarded for two years with unfounded myths and alarming stories, will not waste this historical opportunity to secure a sustainable future for the European press sector, by introducing a strong neighbouring right for press publishers that would facilitate the negotiation of licenses with third parties for the unfair reuse of the press content.
La era digital se convirtió en la salvación de la revista Time
Marc Benioff, the billionaire founder of software services company Salesforce, and his wife Lynne bought Time for $190m just one year after the magazine had been acquired by Meredith.
In February, Time magazine’s name was stripped from its headquarters in lower Manhattan. America’s most famous magazine seemed headed for the wastepaper bin of history, another victim of the digital age. Now, the digital age has come to save it.
Last week, Marc Benioff, the billionaire founder of software services company Salesforce, and his wife Lynne bought Time for $190m. The purchase came just one year after the 95-year-old news magazine had been acquired by Family Circle publisher Meredith as part of a package of titles of which Time looked like the unwanted stepchild.
There was applause in the office last Monday when the editor-in-chief, Edward Felsenthal, told staff about the sale. “We knew from the start – and Marc and Lynne said the same thing publicly – that this could be a really terrific fit,” Felsenthal told Columbia Journalism Review. But once the applause dies down, big questions remain to be answered. Is there really space for a weekly news magazine in an era where the world carries all the news it needs – with constantly pinging updates – on its phone? And is it really a good thing that tech’s billionaires are the new press barons?
Benioff joins a battery of tech billionaires who have recently made a bet on old media: Jeff Bezos owns the Washington Post; Laurene Powell Jobs, widow of Apple’s Steve Jobs, owns a majority stake in the Atlantic; Patrick Soon-Shiong, a surgeon and tech entrepreneur, owns the Los Angeles Times.
Do they see something the media – and Wall Street – don’t? Samir Husni, director of the Magazine Innovation Center at the University of Mississippi, and such an unapologetic fan of print that he’s know as “Mr Magazine”, thinks the answer is yes. “These people appreciate legacy media much more than the folks working in legacy media,” he said.
Time’s legacy helps mitigate against the idea of fake news Samir Husni
Time still sells 2m copies a week and is profitable. Divorced from the pressures of being a small, unloved cog in a public company subject to the quarterly demands of Wall Street, Time can thrive, he said, not least because Time is a brand with authority in an era where authority is lacking. “Time’s legacy helps mitigate against the idea of fake news,” he said. “Time has a special place in the history of journalism.”
The magazine will need to offer depth and quality and be digitally savvy, said Husni, but the brand is well placed to survive the stormy seas now drowning many in the news media. And it’s still massive print run is also a major asset, he believes, not a burden. “No one can show me a publisher that has survived after abandoning its imprint edition,” he said.
Tech moguls can also bring something that the news industry desperately needs – new ideas, said Jeff Jarvis, who spent 10 years working at Time Inc and is now director of the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism.
Benioff’s Salesforce is expert in customer relationship management (CRM) software, something any news organization needs, and Bezos’s Amazon knows its customers in ways most media organizations can only dream of, he argues.
“These guys bring expertise that can really benefit the industry,” he said. “It’s not just about the money. It’s about new perspectives and new skills.”
Kyle Pope: ‘I think what you are seeing is that there is a supply of very wealthy people who see value in attaching their names to these brands.’ Photograph: Mark Lennihan/AP
But he’s not sold on Time’s long-term future as a weekly news magazine. “I used to buy magazines by the pound, they had to double-bag them. I never buy them now.” In a world where a reader in New York can get her news from the Guardian and a Berliner can read the New York Times, a weekly “homogenized” US news digest magazine is going to struggle no matter who has its back, said Jarvis.
Kyle Pope, Columbia Journalism Review’s editor and former editor-in-chief of the New York Observer and deputy editor of CondeNast Portfolio magazine, is even more circumspect. “Yes, it’s the golden age of the weekly print magazine,” he joked.
“I think there is space for Time,” he says. “In this climate there are a handful of titles that are safe, iconic brands. I think what you are seeing is that there is a supply of very wealthy people who see value in attaching their names to these brands, and I think that’s why they are going to survive. Is there a reason to look at this and be hopeful about the business model of journalism? The short answer to that is no.”
There’s something off about journalists celebrating bailouts by super-rich saviours, said Pope. The idea that “journalists who are supposed to love taking on the man” are so happy to take their cash is “erm, somewhat amusing”, he said.
The current environment hearkens back to the days of press barons like William Randolph Hearst, the son of a millionaire mining magnate who built the US’s largest newspaper chain, or Rupert Murdoch, who both used their publications to push their own agendas.
So far the new plutocrats have – in the main – been good owners. Bezos has invested heavily in the Washington Post and seems to have kept his promise of keeping out of the paper’s editorial decisions. “But one can easily imagine a scenario where that doesn’t go so well,” he said. “With all of these people you can imagine scenarios where their business interests clash with their editorial ones and it gets ugly.”
There have already been recent examples of rich men tiring of their new toys and the pressures of running a media company. Last year Joe Ricketts, the billionaire founder of TD Ameritrade, shut down Gothamist and DNAinfo after its writers voted to unionize. Peter Barbey, heir to the VF Corporation retail empire, owner of Vans, Timberland, North Face and other brands, recently shut down the Village Voice after killing its print edition.
In another era this trend of super rich buying media icons would be something people would be very wary of, said Pope. “I think it says something about the state of the business of journalism that it is the only hope we have got,” said Pope.