TV didn't kill radio and Facebook won't kill publishers

Lindsay Bennett
By Lindsay Bennett | 30 September 2016
APN's Kylie Taylor, Fairfax's Kristian Kroon and News Corp's Ebony Newman

There was an entire song written about TV killing radio and that didn't happen, which makes execs from Fairfax, News Media Works, APN and News Corp confident that social media platforms won't kill off the publishing industry.

Speaking at an NGEN event held in Sydney this week, Fairfax national sales and commercial partnerships Kristiaan Kroon said while the industry isn't going anywhere, it has had to evolve.

“Publishers will continue to survive even with Facebook and Snapchat around. It has survived TV, radio, digital… But it will shrink as attention span reduces,” Kroon said.

“If we continue to manage and respond to fragmentation and maintain the integrity of our journalism – publishers won’t go anywhere. We aren’t trying to be like Facebook and let’s remember, they could be 18 months away from being the next Myspace.”

Kroon was speaking on a panel alongside APN national sales director Kylie Taylor and News Corp head of asset integration Ebonie Newman on innovation of traditional media, led by News Media Works CEO Mark Hollands.

Hollands also expects to see further adaptation in the industry, with Fairfax likely to end the production of its weekday papers next year, in favour for weekend papers.

“The sky won’t fall in if Fairfax cuts it week day papers. It’s been done before,” Hollands said.

He was referring to the Montreal newspaper La Presse which made the decision this year to cease publication of the print version of its Monday to Friday edition. The move enables the company to thrive through its digital properties and Saturday paper.

la presse guy crevier

La Presse now banks on its tablet version. Publisher Guy Crevier

“News media has been the most disrupted. It has changed the most and therefore it is the least understood,” Hollands said.

It’s been widely reported that ad sales for news media is in decline, however audiences are growing digitally in droves. At a recent News Media Works event, newspaper chiefs from Fairfax, News Corp and Seven West Media agreed that publishers could no longer rely on ad sales as its main source of revenue.

“Everyone’s trying to find the right paywall model,” Kroon said. “It’s no secret the ad model is under a lot of pressure which is why we are using different strategies for titles, such as the AFR and the SMH.”

Earlier this month, Fairfax announced it would be experimenting with micropayments for two of its regional titles. This is the first time an Australian publisher has trialled small payments to access content.

“We are looking at a mixed business model and steering away from only ad revenue. It gives us a better chance, Kroon said.

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