death of newsDigital media has radically altered the way we consume and interact with news. For more than 50 years, newspapers and TV have dominated news coverage almost everywhere until the internet created the low cost opportunity to go global.

Digital natives rushed to change the news, while publishers and broadcasters started to build online audiences producing video-rich news channels that are accessible across the world at the touch of a button. Let’s refer to this as “News 3.0” – the age in which companies as diverse as Bloomberg, ESPN, CNN, Daily Mail, Huffington Post , BuzzFeed and the like joined the worldwide fight for online viewers, readers and listeners.

Multi-channel, multi platform news that is distributed socially is a way of saying to the consumer “you are in control: you decide if our content is entertaining and relevant and we’ll supply it when and where you want it”. However this fusion of traditional and new media is a big challenge for many; most of all for the daily newspaper which faces the need to make a real strategic leap for survival. How can they compete in a socially enabled environment? Especially one where such a wealth of content is so readily available that we no longer have to go out of our way to access it? Where do they start?

Let’s refer to this as “News 3.0” – the age in which companies as diverse as Bloomberg, ESPN, CNN, Daily Mail, Huffington Post , BuzzFeed and the like joined the worldwide fight for online viewers, readers and listeners.

Start at the beginning. Content. Digital content is not about the traditional attention grabbing font-size and designs but reflecting the needs of online consumers. Mediocrity and repetition don’t pay anymore. Investigative, newspaper-centric journalism is what papers do best therefore they should seek to maximise the impact of genuinely exclusive coverage, while also providing links to alternative sources and ‘aggregated’ content. The value in creating the ‘best’ or ‘exclusive’ coverage is that competitors will end up linking back to you.

On the other hand, news sites should remember what so many readers have always liked about newspapers: the happy chance of coming across something they weren’t looking for and didn’t expect to find. Crowdtap research found individuals aged 18 to 36 spend an average of 17.8 hours a day with different types of media, with the notion of “multi-channel” (merging digital, print and broadcast channels) media consumption commonplace therefore audiences have to be cultivated and ‘trained’ to become habitual users and will seek out news. This also means that element of surprise has been removed; the joy of coming across something they did not expect to find is reduced by the fact that they are actively searching for it and that their news feeds are tailored to things they want.

Video will likely become an online battle ground as audiences become more and more accustomed to consuming news through TV and digital. A key shift of resources for newspapers will be building up substantial video content to compete with TV news. Take for example the deal made between the NY Times and the US broadcaster PBS to share video journalism.

Digital media is not restricted to news sites and video. News mediums cannot afford to forget about the possibilities that social media can bring. All news organisations have to have an imprint on social media due to it being where so many of their audience regularly engage. It is a key source of content, distribution and competition. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Snapchat increasingly see themselves as platforms for news and information. Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2014 found Facebook  to be the most important network for news with some 42% of respondents saying they select the media they consume online from their Facebook news feed. Almost a quarter said they have friends or follow people who they regard as authorities for news and almost 1 in 5 said they trust their friends to source news.  The pull of Facebook as an access point for news has been further strengthened by addition of their ‘read-in’ feature which allows people to read news without navigating away from their social feeds.   The concept of contributing content to ‘public spaces’ over which they have no control represents a challenge for newspaper-centric companies. They must collaborate with social media but should consider reserving their exclusive “branded” content for their own platforms.

It is already clear that most news providers will simply not be able to depend on readership revenues. News is something that most readers now do not expect not to pay for. This is reflected by the recent decision from NME to become a free publication following their significant drop in paid over the past few years. The decision was made to hopefully push circulation from 15,000 to 300,000, a risk which seems to be paying off.

Crowdtap research found individuals aged 18 to 36 spend an average of 17.8 hours a day with different types of media, with the notion of “multi-channel” (merging digital, print and broadcast channels) media consumption commonplace…

Most news will be funded by a combination of advertising and e-commerce therefore newspapers will need to abandon their traditional sense of ‘control’ and seek partnerships, collaborations and alliances in order to compete in the digital marketplace. Alternatively, as BuzzFeed founder Jonah Peretti recently suggested, perhaps the natural answer is for the printed newspaper to charge a higher price so that (perhaps) it can be viable just with its most loyal and committed readers.

Personally, I enjoy having a paper under my arm. I love the act of turning a page and the satisfaction of finishing a worn and well-loved book, so I will continue to read the Metro, occasionally buy a paper and always pick a paperback over a kindle. Surely I cannot be alone in this! So maybe this means that print will always have a place. After all you cannot fold the corner of your kindle for later. Let’s hope that the feeling i get from holding that newspaper under my arm will be shared by the generations of kids who have grown up with technology available to them since birth. It’s this generation that hold the future of print media in their hands.I’m sure their love of “retro” mediums can nurture the print industry back to full health.