Expert comments on the future of news delivery in Latin America

par Monica Bentivegna
5 mars 2009 dans Media Entrepreneurship

In a changing media landscape -- and one in which more and more newspapers are closing their doors everyday -- journalists are left wondering what the future of news delivery might be, and what to be doing to prepare.

To provide some insight on the topic, the International Journalists' Network recently asked James Breiner, a journalism expert and the Director of Mexico’s Guadalajara University's Center for Digital Journalism, to predict how most people in Latin America will receive news in five years -- print, television/radio, online or on a cell phone?

According to Breiner, “in five years, nearly all news outlets will be multimedia outlets and people will consume journalistic products on whatever electronic devices dominate.”

Here are his predictions on the future of news delivery:

In five years, nearly all news outlets will be multimedia outlets. Any news outlet that has a website will have to be producing stories told in multimedia. This does not mean simply that they will have video, audio and graphics but that they will be mastering the story form that uses whichever media are best to round out a story package.

Electronic forms of multimedia journalism will far surpass print, which will be even more of a luxury item than it already is in Latin America. People will consume journalistic products on whatever electronic devices dominate – cell phones, personal computers, flexible electronic screens, hand-held readers (Kindle) and other devices not yet contemplated.

People will be spending less time with television, a trend that is already notable among young people who favor the Internet.

Cell phones or their highly evolved descendants will become hugely important as devices for consuming news and information.

In Mexico, Internet is already a more important source of news than newspapers, according to a 2008 study by Intermedia, the media consulting company.


Many people in Mexico pooh-pooh the importance of digital journalism, saying few people have access. But more people have access to Internet in Mexico than read daily newspapers. Circulation of daily newspapers in Mexico was 731,000 in 2006, equal to less than 1% of the population, according to figures from Inegi.  Even allowing for 5 or 6 readers per copy, the market penetration is small.

Let me say this again. Newspapers have always been a medium for the elite in Latin America. The Internet is becoming a far more important medium than print newspapers. The newspaper enterprises that adapt and migrate to the Internet will survive. Print products will continue to decline and become far less important for readers and advertisers, except in very specialized niches.

Marketing

Recently I made the rounds of a few advertising agencies here to ask them about trends in media buying.

Online advertising bought through agencies is an ever-shrinking figure because 44% of all digital advertising (Source: Internet Advertising Bureau) is now search advertising, and the percentage is growing. More than half the market share of this category is owned by Google and Yahoo. Agencies are cut out of this equation, in which advertisers deal directly with the search companies and pricing is set by electronic auction.

Television

Television advertising is also in danger. The agencies note that younger audiences in particular are abandoning TV. One agency executive told me that seven years ago, the 14-25 age group in Mexico spent four hours a day with TV.  This same demographic is now spending several hours a day on the computer, at the expense of television. 

Radio

iPods are hurting radio programming that depends on music. However, radio stations that focus on news, information, and talk will find an audience. Radio stations are probably the most challenged in finding their niche. As they migrate to the Web, they have to decide if they want to become multimedia news outlets.

To read James Breiner’s blog, visit http://newsleaders.blogspot.com/.