ISOJ: 3 ways the journalism business is changing

Versión en español aquí. 

Three of the speakers at the International Symposium on Online Journalism changed the way I look at the business of journalism: Jim Moroney, CEO of A.H. Belo and publisher of the Dallas Morning News; Jim Bankoff, founder and CEO of Vox Media, and Valtteri Halla, chief technical officer at Leia Media in Finland.

Here is what got my attention. 

Targeting new generation of consumers

Jim Bankoff,  CEO of Vox Media, described a digital media world in which the future winners will be those with high-quality branded content. He is running against the current here. He has the old-fashioned idea that you need to pay competitive salaries to attract top digital-journalism talent, and that you can make money doing it.

Jim Bankoff of Vox Media. Photo by ISOJ.
While he sees the most popular news sites on the web as chasing page views with sensational headlines and clickbait --  Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, others -- his emphasis is on quality of audience rather than quantity. "Now is the time for branded content."

High-quality branded content is the strategy behind the seven media brands that make up Vox, including the SBNation sports site, The Verge's technology coverage and the new Ezra Klein product that focuses on general news, Vox

As a business model, it's working, Bankoff told the ISOJ audience. They are attracting "a new generation of news consumers" that has been turned off by traditional media. The audience is young, highly educated and has high income. Six of the seven brands are profitable, the exception being the newest one, Vox, which just launched with a staff of 20. 

The sites were drawing 79 million unique visitors a month at year-end 2013, and the business has  attracted $74 million in venture capital (thanks to Maite Fernandez for that research).

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