The World Assocation of Newspapers 68th World Media Congress captured the imagination of over 700 attendees in the historic city of Cartegena, Columbia for 3 days of sharing, learning and networking. A packed programme designed to help publishers,editors and journalists realise the opportunities affored by new technologies from Virtual Reality to blockchain, cope with rapidly evolving social distribution platforms and compete with broadcasters and the ever evolving range of new companies created a perfect backdrop for discusssion matched only by the magificant world heritage site that is the old city of cartegena.
Media Innovation Studio Director and founder member of the Global Alliance for Media Innovation (GAMI), Paul Egglestone was there to present the latest work from GAMI and to launch a new online space where news oranisations, publishers and journalists can find out about the latest media innovations from global media labs and connect with like minded people to innovate within their own companies. Egglestone’s presentation explored 4 types of labs offering a ‘turn-key’ solution to media organisations whatever stage they were at in the innovtion process. From the simplest ‘in-house’ lab to complex regional innovation clusters the presentation offered concrete examples of news innovation from Japan, Canada, the UK, Norway, Finland and France with the promise of more to come through the newly established online portal.
Egglestone was joined on stage by Phil Crawley, the Publisher and CEO of The Globe and Mail, Canada’s national newspaper. Crawley launched his in-house innovation ‘Lab351’ in the basement of the Globe and Mail’s current HQ and has already developed a series of products that are engaing audiences in new ways. He said, “For me, apart from the actual results from the lab benefitting the business, the biggest win of all is what it’s doing to change the culture of the business. It’s liberating people’s ability to make a difference and have an influence. We’re finding that that’s certainly making a difference in the mindset of the company.” (You can read more about how Phil established Lab351 and some of the innovative news products they’ve been developing here).
Another example of innovation from the labs was brought to the audience by Newsela’s Partnership Strategist, Mark Pan. Pan explained how Newsela is endeavouring to unlock the written word for everyone by publishing high-interest news articles daily at five levels of complexity for grades 2-12 using Newsela’s proprietary, rapid text-leveling process. News articles are adapted from partners such as AP, Washington Post, and The Guardian. Now, the news is becoming an integral to students and teachers across the country— 75% of all schools in the U.S. use Newsela.
The session was Chaired by Rolf Dyrnes Svendsen, Editor of Adresseavisen and Director of the Polaris Media Lab in Norway. The Polaris Media lab are a major partner of Norway’s NxtMedia project – a regional cluster of news media, tech companies and acadmic partners who feature in the new GAMI online report.
Egglestone’s focus was on the need for news organisations, journalists and publishers to connect with external labs like the Media Innovation Studio and those featured in the GAMI report. He said “It’s often difficult for people working within an organisation or industry to step outside of their corporate culture or ways of doing things and look at a problem or tackle an issue with a new set of tools drawn from other discplines taken from outside of the industry. Labs can provide that different perspective and offer a fresh view. The right relationship with the most appropriate lab can also bring new knowledge, foresigh and insight to the table too. Certainly, if I was sat where some CEO’s of news organisations are sat right now and faced with the challenges of the ever changing consumption habits of my audiences, keeping abreast of emerging technolgies, segregating the things that will work from the ‘fads’ that won’t, looking at what my global competitors are doing – I’d be partnersing with a lab that can help me navigate the murky water that is the future!”