Conference Summary: Interactive Media

Editor and Publisher hosted its 2010 Interactive Media Conference on June 16 and 17. Over two dozen speakers from U.S. and international media companies, aggregators and service providers shared valuable lessons and advice acquired from their own experiences with multimedia.


The demand to multitask is stronger than ever, and the expectation of journalists is no longer to simply conduct the interview, take a picture, and shoot some video. It is to do it all well. Some news organizations have equipped all of their reporters with camcorders, and others have supplied laptops and smartphones. More and more TV studios and video editing departments are emerging in newsrooms.

“Innovate. Experiment. Disrupt.” (Josh Cohen, Google News)

Be brave. Try something new. Equip your staff with multimedia tools and give them the freedom to experiment. Encourage innovation. One organization gives a stipend and monthly time off allowance so that employees can play with the new toys given them. The results may not be pretty at first, but they will improve with time and patience.

Look for revenue opportunities in unconventional places. Bill Ostendorf, CEO of Creative Circle Media Consulting, suggested creating online communities for apartment buildings by establishing a web presence and a social media presence for each building, and then connecting the buildings.

Consider an online ad that invites the reader to send a text message in order to receive a coupon. Or a mobile ad that can be clicked to phone the advertiser. Or a mobile ad that can be clicked to take the reader to the advertiser’s site, which can then show the reader a map to the nearest store based on their current GPS location. (Bill Ganon, Verve Wireless)

Partner with others

You can’t do everything. Do what you do well, and get partners to do the rest. Hire service providers or buy website modules for content management systems, online photo galleries, video showcases, online classifieds, ad management systems, mobile apps, social media, citizen journalism, and more.

Work with the competition, and pool your resources to deliver in-depth, quality content to your readers. New partnerships could contribute to the financial future of the industry and reflect change of another sort: a full package of information using a number of resources. Create compelling journalism and display it in a compelling way.

When choosing web and mobile app vendors, approach the process as you would any content process, and shop smartly. Negotiate a trial period into vendor contracts, and be strategic about revenue-sharing partnerships.

Paid content: One size does not fit all

Paywalls are not for everyone. But for those who are considering them, there are many ways to approach them. Look at putting premium content behind the wall. Consider giving a reader their first click free. Consider creative ways of introducing paid content: Sports Illustrated launched a swimsuit app for the iPhone in 2009 and charged for it, and over 60,000 people downloaded it.

People are paying for content now—music, apps, books—so they will in 2011, but it depends on how you do it. Quality and convenience are two good reasons for introducing paid content. (Paul Fichtenbaum,

If you’re going to charge for content, make it easy for people to pay. Use analytics to help identify what you can charge for. Use a simple interface. Find that sweet spot—what we can charge for and the right pricing strategy—and promote it. (Ernest Schreiber,

Change the culture of your newsroom

Go from fast to slow: News alerts are fast. When a story bre