UPDATED: We need to attach a higher value to news, says Times digital boss

matttaylor

By Elle Rigby

Matt Taylor thinks the mistake of making content freely available in the noughties has led to audiences placing value in everything other than news.

Matt, the digital development editor at The Times and Sunday Times, spoke to students at Leeds Trinity Journalism Week about the lack of value placed in news, and how consumer and media outlets need to adapt.

He said: “Everyone panicked when the BBC went online. There is always going to be a free competitor to what we’re doing, and this race to compete and make the product free meant that we reduced the value of news to nil.”

He spoke of the unsustainable use of advertisements to try and place value into news, saying: “Because of the rate at which ad-blocking is growing, you get negative revenue for every blocker.”

Matt spoke of perceptions on news, adding: “Socially, we look at a movie or TV as being worth something, we enjoy supporting people and see value in that…so why don’t we see it in news?”

This was examined through Matt’s interactive question to the students in which it transpired that whilst all students paid for a monthly subscription of Netflix or Spotify, no-one paid for any online journalism.

He believes that, in order for money to be made in news journalism, a more adoptive approach of merging between technology and content is needed.

Snapchat was used as an example of this approach, with Matt stating: “They are totally rethinking how people engage with news content alongside content from their friends.

“These guys are focusing on the news experience of their products and platforms and that is something that the news industry is failing at, a lot.”

Matt used the idea of a paywall at The Times as an example of an independent media outlet making money within journalism, saying: “We make money when you’re happy. We want subscribers to feel proud and accomplished from reading our content.”

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