Closer to the reader through a renewal of channels and contents
Digitality, interactivity and technology create new opportunities for the development of media channels and content, which was reflected in the renewal of Alma Media’s newspapers in 2013. In a pilot launched by Lapin Kansa and Alma Regional Media in April, 50 customers residing in locations beyond the reach of early morning deliveries were provided with a tablet device and the digital edition of Lapin Kansa for a period of six weeks. The participants were satisfied with faster delivery of the news. They also felt that reading the paper from the digital device was a clear improvement when compared to traditional print media.
“We are very happy with the results of the pilot. The media use of even the long-term subscribers of the newspaper changed during the pilot. The regional newspaper became a part of morning routines and reduced the time spent watching television and listening to the radio. Going forward, we want to offer functional alternatives to the printed newspaper and more prominently promote the option of digital-only subscriptions to customers residing in locations outside the reach of early morning deliveries,” says Matti Posio, the Editor-in-Chief of Lapin Kansa at the time of the pilot.
Besides tablet devices, the tabloid format is also a part of the transformation of media. The shift to the tabloid format follows the international trend aimed at serving readers better by improving the usability of the newspaper’s format while, in many cases, also making its content more interactive. Aamulehti’s shift to tabloid and content renewal, which will be implemented in 2014, was also planned in 2013. Readers had the opportunity to express their views on the renewal of the newspaper during a road tour that reached a total of some 1,000 readers in eleven municipalities around Aamulehti’s circulation area. In addition, approximately 100 readers participated through an online forum.
“In addition to the traditional news section, we are planning a section that would allow ordinary readers as well as experts from various fields to participate in producing articles. In the future, the journalist will be less of a traditional interviewer or compiler of information, and more of an organiser who brings readers together for discussion, debate, action and testing things,” explains Aamulehti’s Design Editor Stefani Urmas.
The renewal will also take advantage of the opportunities presented by the new printing facility of Alma Media’s printing and distribution unit Alma Manu. In addition to implementing innovative printing solutions, the renewal process also extended to distribution operations to better serve readers: in autumn 2013, Alma Manu launched a pilot in which readers in the Pirkanmaa region were delivered freshly baked bread along with the morning paper.
Packaging is the key to moving towards paid content in media
When implemented well, moving high-quality digital content behind a paywall can result in both financial benefit as well as content that serves different target groups. The majority of the content published on Alma Regional Media newspapers’ digital channels will be put behind a paywall in early 2014. Online content has already been moved entirely behind a paywall at the Raahen Seutu and Pyhäjokiseutu local papers. The move to paid content will continue to be a key area of development for Alma Regional Media in 2014.
“The aim is for readers to gain access to all content in exchange for a single monthly fee: the printed newspaper, online services, archives, the digital edition of the newspaper and mobile services. In the future, we will also offer a tablet version and various electronic added-value products. The shift to a paywall is part of the broader transformation of media towards content business with journalism at its core,” says Kari Juutilainen, Senior Vice President, Alma Regional Media.
Solution-oriented journalism is aware of its impact on society
In the changing media landscape, the impact of content on society will remain the most significant footprint the media business has on the world around it. In June 2013, Alma Media participated in the production of the Mirrors or Movers research report, which describes media’s brainprint, or its impact on society. Brainprint is a new concept introduced in the public dialogue on media’s ethical principles, transparency and relationship with the audience.
“Media has an impact on the individual and on society at large, and we should strive to better understand this impact. The brainprint concept brings a new perspective to understanding media, one that highlights the significance of content choices. As part of its Sustainable Media corporate responsibility programme, Alma Media is eager to start this discussion in Finland,” says Riikka Poukka, Alma Media’s Corporate Responsibility Manager.
The brainprint is a concept loaded with values. Ultimately, it comes down to what media wants to achieve with its content. Each of Alma Media’s media outlets has its own journalistic policy, which determines its fundamental values. Besides values, how and what kind of journalism is performed also affects the brainprint of media. In recent times, Alma Media has adopted constructive and solution-oriented journalism as a perspective on the brainprint.
“Being solution-oriented means that media works in the interest of the people who consume it and are within its sphere of influence. A regional newspaper that provides constructive perspectives rather than functions as a forum for complaint will have an effect on the atmosphere and activity of the entire region. The psychological climate reflects the media sector’s most significant impact on its environment. The newly coined term, brainprint, describes this very well. Good media is always at war with apathy. The mission of good media is to support the people that get things done and have an enterprising spirit, catch crooks and be involved in facilitating livelier communities,” Matti Posio concludes.