Think Tank

German Newsmedia: Now is the “Historic Golden Moment for Digital Journalism”

German Media: Summary about the impacts of Corona virus and overview of the largest German media brands

By Ioana Sträter, New World Encounters.

The arrival of COVID-19 and the ensuing pandemic has changed the world as we knew it. It has devastated every part of our lives, from our health to the economic viability of our businesses. Nevertheless, challenges and crisis are not new to newsmedia professionals. In Germany media houses reacted to this new crisis in two ways: the first was to go into survival mode until the return to normal was be possible, part time work was adopted. The second way was to see the opportunity in the challenge and it was adopted by an impressive majority of media houses. Even though this crisis is terrifying, they know the have been given a chance to create or do something amazing and they do not want to waste this opportunity.

Hanna Suppa, Tijen Onaran in Interview with Mathias Döpfner during BeBeta 2020
Hanna Suppa, Tijen Onaran in Interview with Mathias Döpfner during BeBeta 2020

The news media professionals know: now is the time when the foundation for the digital revenue business of the next decade will be built, now is the time when the most innovative media houses take market share from those who are just holding on.

“The historic golden moment for digital journalism”

Matthias Döpfner, President of the German Association of Digital and Newspaper Publishers (BDZV) and CEO of Axel Springer

Matthias Döpfner, President of the German Association of Digital and Newspaper Publishers (BDZV) and CEO of Axel Springer, called this «the historic golden moment for digital journalism» «The great future lies in paid content and digital subscriptions, because more and more people are realizing the importance of trustworthy, truthful senders – and how willing they are to spend money on them» he said during the BDZV virtual Conference BeBeta in June 2020. Digital transformation is a reality that we are living every day, not something ahead of us, he said. The digital natives at Axel Springer wonder why we need to digitally transform the business when it is a digital business anyway.

Corona Turbo

Corona pandemic was and is an accelerator for innovation. Newspapers reacted quickly to it, this is true for all, especially for regional newspapers – «Thank you Corona: Turbo- Transformation in Regional Journalism» was a session at the above mentioned conference. One of the biggest lessons learned in recent weeks is «how quickly we can change», said many local newsmedia professionals. Especially in the publishing industry this is a very important insight and it is incredibly encouraging for all that is yet to come. Editorial innovations have been initiated along with the reorganization of one’s own life, family and work. Swantje Dake, Editor-in-Chief Digital at Stuttgarter Zeitung attributes this to the fact that «for the first time, Corona has created a news situation that has affected everyone». So, the newspaper quickly switched over to the topic of service: what to do with children at home, how to use media libraries, how to do sports etc. She has also experienced that above all you have to communicate with the readers a lot, especially about the meaning of the paywall.

As a result of the new news offerings there was impressive boost in subscriptions and online reach across the board, with newspapers trying to become indispensable in people’s everyday lives through newsletters.

Funke Mediengruppe Newspapers
Funke Mediengruppe Newspapers

Despite all the good results, struggle is still a huge part in the daily reality. Publishers are struggling with falling advertising revenue, changing and challenging workflows and communication channels due to remote work, missing childcare and elderly care. «This impacts our employees as we are developing new digital corona-related offers. As most publishers we have struggled with falling ad revenues during this crisis. On the other hand if we compare 60 days before [the onset of COVID-19] to 60 days during [the virus most severe impact on Germany] our daily new subscribers went up by 60 percent and our churn went significantly down, so we generated 160% more net new subscribers during that period,» says Dr. Ruth Betz, director digital transformation at Funke Mediengruppe. Delivering stories that people want to read and welcome into their homes has become particularly important.

ZEIT seems to have only one direction: upwards

Zeit Post on Facebook
Zeit Post on Facebook

Along these lines, «Die Zeit» is the German newsmedia success leader. Never before has the weekly newspaper «Die Zeit» achieved such high subscription figures as 2020. Completely against the industry trend, the circulation of ZEIT seems to have only one direction: upwards. Four days before the IVW officially publishes the new circulation figures for the first quarter, the Hamburg-based company reveals that it has reached a new historical record of 519,573 copies. Two new sections are said to be responsible for part of the upswing: «The Streit Ressort (controversy or dispute section) and the Wissen Ressort (knowledge section) have struck a nerve and have led to the fact that many readers at the kiosks are currently acquiring it.» said «Die Zeit» Managing Director Rainer Esser.

Shifting Mindsets

1. We experience a change in the mindset of our audiences and a higher acceptance for paid digital journalism. This mindset shift is due to the familiarization with paid digital media consumption with Apple, Netflix offerings, but also due to the high-quality journalistic offerings of the media houses. People got used to paying for high quality content.

2. The future of newsmedia will be based on a business model on two pillars: digital advertising, whereas programmatic plays a big role, and digital sales. To set for a good future, newsmedia professionals need to have the right mindset: don’t believe you found THE solution, but stay always flexible and agile, this is the basic approach for successful digital journalism.

The world as we knew it, is vanishing. That is why, at New World Encounters, we want to take you on a tour about the world that is coming and that we are shaping now. Our speakers during the «Virtual Tour Digital Revenues» will tell and show you how they do it. Funke, Zeit, Axel Springer and many others will share their digital revenue stories with you. More about the speakers and the contents of the virtual tour in our programme.

German press groups and their largest brands

Do you know the main press groups in Germany and their brands?
Here you have a good overview.

Source : Katapult magazin

Ioana Sträter. Founder of QuestiQ. Ioana Sträter is a crossindustry innovation expert, with more than 15 years expertise in media. Founder of QuestiQ, she helps organizations to tap the real potential of their growth.

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