All posts by Daniela Bartos

The future of news in a digital world


How many of you are using Snapchat Discover? A question asked for the audience by Aron Pilhofer, Executive Editor of Digital at the Guardian, at WeWork (a beautiful coworking and co-creating space in Moorgate) tonight when discussing the future of news in a digital world. The topic, moderated by Quartz, a digitally native news outlet for business people, and co-organised by General Assembly, has been a centre point of discussion for sometime. Tonight the focus was on the news formats, sources and even algorithms!

There were many hands up (answering the question) in the audience, including the speakers, confirming that mobile apps, like Snapchat Discover, and social media are now as legitimate sources to connect with a story as newspapers’ websites. In fact stories, including videos, that are being re-distributed by digital users via social media platforms have proven to have more impact than a headlined article on a news website. That said, mobile news formats are not actually as threatening for the news organisations as it was thought. Sarah Marshall, Social Media Editor at The Wall Street Journal, said she is actually quite happy that people are reading the news on mobile platforms rather than on the website, because it makes us actually read the whole article!

The comment about publishers knowing too much of their readers’ data was not seen as a problem for Sarah. ‘It’s actually a great thing to collect data as we can learn so much from them, we can make the whole experience much better, while also being able to allocate the right format and platform for the interested audience without just bombarding every reader on a digital platform with every story’. Allocating content on different platforms and formats is actually an important part of the publishing business as both agreed that a story based on only one source is not trustworthy enough for the readers, who are in fact expecting that a story they can trust comes from multiple (digital) sources.

As regards to the algorithms and news, Google’s Head of Strategic Relations, News & Publishers, Madhav Chinnappa, pointed out that while for Google’s technical team writing an algorithm is about finding the best response to a query,  a social media platform, like Facebook, works with much complex data to consider and no direct query to deal with. On the same subject, one industry insider from the audience was quick in recommending to the news publishers not to rely on the algorithms too much as they are often misleading for the purpose of reaching the right audience.

Other topics, such as digital training, real time data measurement and instant articles, were also debated tonight at WeWork, with participants concluding that the pace of change in this area is often faster than conclusions from a debate.

Innovation is a state of mind


There has been so much said, written, shown and discussed about innovation. Many amazing examples, success stories, awards, and academic definitions have reached our attention. And yet, we are fascinated about how and when innovation happens and how to keep it going.

We are living in the golden age of innovation. Due to technological advances, enabling creation, access and reach of new concepts, we can all become successful innovators.  Unlike innovation in manufacturing, digital innovation requires as little as an idea and some extent of digital literacy to transfer that idea into a new digital interface. It’s no longer the big companies that have the luxury of translating creative ideas into tangible innovative products or services, it’s a plausible proposition for an individual or a small group of individuals to make the innovation real.

We know that it is easier than ever to become innovative and yet we are often feeling behind the buzz. This is even harder for organisations which have resources to implement the changes, yet they are far more resistant to become innovative companies that reflect on constant technological, industry and consumer changes. They might have the best of technical and creative talents in house, yet they are not seen as innovative as they would love to be.

And then you come to visit one of the many coworking spaces and you feel that digital innovation is so widespread it almost feels contagious. For these people innovation is a state of mind. They see no other way than a constant creative and intellectual curiosity and openness to disrupt the status quo, as if yesterday did not matter, accepting that their attempts might not be perfect or feasible. They not only understand that, they in fact expect that someone or something will challenge their innovative process and by doing so help them to improve the original thought, product, or service. Their way of thinking and behaving is a constant and open innovation, not the kind that is cooked behind the closed doors, with the unwillingness to share the recipe while hoping that people will love the meal forever.