Nievera: “Digital is the future, and that future is now”

Going digital has been a trend not just for consumer brands but also for print media. Publications have created an online counterpart of its newspapers since the advent of the Web. However, it is still undeniable that the concept of online journalism is relatively new compared to print and broadcast media since Filipinos were just introduced to the Web last 1995 only (Arao, 2006).

The choice of the riptide metaphor—or the rip current to be strictly accurate—is deliberate. The recommended survival technique against a rip current in the ocean is to quickly move sideways outside the current, but that’s been easier said than done in the news business, just as it is in the open sea. We chose the metaphor to represent what happened to the news business: When successful, pre-digital players who had learned to swim out to sea and return safely with confidence and regularity found themselves over time confronting a stronger and stronger force that made it more and more difficult to get back to shore. And just like a school of swimmers caught in a real riptide, even some of the best-prepared and forward-thinking media companies were swept away no matter how hard they tried to survive.

-John Huey, Martin Nisenholtz and Paul Sagan; Riptide (2013)

Among the print news organizations, whoever submerged first is still a questions. However the ‘legacy news media companies’ such as Philippine Daily Inquirer, Manila Bulletin, Philippine Star, Manila Times and Business World are among the pre-digital players.

Business World started its online platform in 1996, just a year after the Web was introduced to the Filipinos. Though the online publication have survived the riptide, it is still finding its way back to the shore — high readership and advertisement placement.

Consult (www.consult.com.au), 2000
Consult (www.consult.com.au), 2000

In fact, a study conducted last 2000 by Consult (www.consult.com.au), an Internet research and consulting group based in Australia, revealed that Business World alongside with Manila Times, only ranked fourth as online news site choice with 12 percent of the respondents visiting regularly. It was Inquirer.net that ranked first as the online news site choice with 78 percent of the respondents visiting regularly. Manila Bulletin ranked second with 49 percent; while Philippine Star Online ranked third with 45 percent.

We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run.

-Law of Amara

One of the late bloomers in online news platform is Malaya Business Insight (MBI) which only started its website in 2008. According to their web team, MBI decided to go online since more and more people are using the internet in searching for news and information. However, the publication might have underestimated the effect in the long run. “There are still more advertisers in print compared to our website,” says Peps Bernardo, MBI Sales & Marketing Officer. This dilemma might be due to insufficient traffic to its website.

But it’s not really who went online first or last. Based on Alexa, a California-based company that provides commercial web traffic data, even the big player Inquirer.net’s traffic declined though it’s still the top online news platform in the country. At present, it only ranked eleventh on the most visited site in the country with a daily average of 2.9 views.

The second most visited website nowadays is Rappler, a social news network Rappler only started two years ago but had been enjoying the attention and appreciation of the people. Meanwhile, the other ‘legacy news media companies’ didn’t make it to the top 25.

Top sites in the Philippines by Alexa

  • Inquirer.net – Rank 11
  • Rappler – Rank 13
  • Abscbn News – Rank 15
  • GMA Network – Rank 22

The decline in website traffic is not just experienced on the national level but also in the local news industry too. Just as the Riptide report says, not all are lucky enough to survive. In Bicol region, one of the local newspapers unfortunately didn’t make it through the waves. Due to diminishing number of newspaper readers, Vox Bicol decided to just went online since that’s where the readers are. However, just like MBI, they failed to see what lies ahead.

At present, I am only maintaining the website but it’s not really running like a regular publication. To be able to run a successful online news site, advertisement is really important. You need to utilize Google Ads and social media to promote your site.

-Andy Gimpaya, Vox Bicol Online Editor

With these cases, Chapter 14 in Riptide about Going Social and Paying to Play is indeed significant. This is similar with the New York Times digital innovation report that suggests news sites need to be more social in promoting their content to be able to maximize audience development.

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Second Part: BLOGAZINES

With the advent of technology, they say anybody can be a journalist; may it be by twitter, blogs or other social platforms. Riptide also saw the potential of blogging in the news industry.

Just like Andrew Sullivan, a legendary political journalist and commentator—and the former editor of The New Republic—who established himself as a high-traffic blogger for Time.com, and later Atlantic.com and The Daily Beast, I have interviewed a former newspaper columnist who established various blogazinesa magazine-styled blog.

Homer Nievera: I stopped print ‘coz of time and saw opportunity to move fully into digital.

Nadj: What were the opportunities that you saw in going digital?

Homer: Digital is the future, and that future is now.
Nievera was a columnist at Daily Tribune for Multimedia and Technology for 25 years. He was also a former bureau chief for Asia for the Asian American times in its San Francisco office. Then in 2011, he started his blog negosentro.com, originally comceptualized as a free resource sharing site for entrepreneurs. Then as more traffic and readers demanded for more digital entrepreneurship (digipreneurship) topics, they slowly shifted to what it is today. He also created 7 more titles and turned them into blogazines in 2014. Later on it was bought by the United Neon group in February 2015.


The future of news:

Need will be delivered fast and crowd-sourced. More and more people will be delivering so called news through their social media accounts. More and more curation sites will emerge and go super-niched and hyper-local in delivering news and happenings.

-Homer Nievera, Blogger & Techpreneur

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