From print to digital: A conversation with Dr. Ruth Betz

Jul 2, 2019 in Multimedia Journalism
Berlin, Germany

As our world has become increasingly digitized, the news industry has been forced to follow suit. Fewer people, after all, are reading the news in print, instead choosing to do so from their computers and mobile devices. More often than not, these readers are accessing online news for free. 

According to the Reuters Institute’s 2019 Digital News Report, the percentage of people around the world who pay for the news they consume has remained low. In all but two of the 36 countries around the world surveyed for the study, less than 15 percent of news readers pay for the content they consume. In 25 of the 36 countries, this percentage sits at 10 percent or less. 

Amid this industry upheaval, newsrooms around the world have struggled to put into place sustainable business models, and newsroom closures and layoffs have become commonplace.

For our second episode of IJNotes, we sat down with Dr. Ruth Betz, who is the head of digital transformation at Funke Mediengruppe, one of Germany’s largest newspaper and magazine publishers, with more than 500 publications across eight countries. In this role, Betz oversees the print to digital conversion of Funke Mediengruppe’s news outlets, working to ensure that they adopt sustainable business models as they transform from print to digital-first publications. 

Over the last several months, Betz took part in one of Facebook’s Reader Revenue Accelerator Programs — this one in Berlin — which is training 14 local publishers from across Germany and Austria on how to build their revenues from digital subscriptions. 

She spoke with us about her efforts overseeing the print to digital conversion of Funke Mediengruppe’s news outlets, discussing the challenges and successes she’s experienced along the way, and where the work may go in the future. 

Enjoy this second episode below.

We’ll let you know on our Twitter, Instagram and Facebook pages when we release our next episode — so make sure to follow us there if you aren’t already. 

All episodes will be available on Apple PodcastsSpotifyStitcherBuzzsproutTuneIn and SoundCloud.

Main image CC-licensed by Unsplash via Julia Solonina