LIVE: Transforming newsroom culture

matt-taylor-2

By Sam Brooksbank

At the age of just 26, Matt Taylor is already a veteran of the digital newsroom.

As digital development editor at The Times and Sunday Times, he runs a small team managing editorial development strategy and product across both titles, a role which is a big change from his original ambition to go into medicine.

“When I did my A-levels, I wanted to be a doctor but I stayed at home playing videos games,” he said.

“I was never really a programmer and always wanted to be, but never really had the talent for it.”

Giving students an insight into the realities of news finance, he said: “media outlets are scrapping over 10 cents in every dollar”, with Google and Facebook taking the rest.However, Matt is not a fan of every emerging technology: “with every ad blocker, the newspaper is getting negative revenue.

“It’s important because advertising revenue is what news organisations are built on.

“Instant articles is a system that Facebook developed when ad blocking was getting big. You click on an article on Facebook and it will open it, but you will still be in the Facebook app.”

Matt also questioned why people are happy to pay for everything except news.

“We pay for differentiated content, the experience, the convenience, because it helps us in our lives,” he said.

“We pay because we see value in the product.”

He believes that newspapers made a serious mistake in the early noughties when the BBC went online, with the fear that there was always going to be a free competitor.

“The race to compete on the web, and particularly on social web where ‘virality’ was a thing, gave impetus for a lot of websites to go free.

“By making the product free, we reduced the perceived value and encouraged people not to pay for it.”

In a final piece of advice to budding journalists, Matt encouraged them to become computer literate.

“Learn to code – I don’t know that much, but the amount of respect it has given me from being able to do a small about of stuff is great,” he said

 

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