While there is a general concern over the future of journalism amid an aggressive expansion of social media, a globally reputed media expert has said journalism's future is actually great provided that it embraces the digital changes that shape audience habits.
“Our industry rules are changing with the change in technology... so, we too need to change. But, we need news media to be trusted more than ever,” said Earl J Wilkinson, executive director and chief executive officer of International News Media Association (INMA).
Headquartered in the United States, INMA is the world's leading provider of global best practices for news media companies looking to grow revenue, audience, and brand amid profound market change.
Earl, who has written reports and books related to the future of media, marketing, and the strategic outlook for the news media industry, said the digital age would allow anyone to be a publisher, which was a huge opportunity for growth of journalism.
“But, the news brand is important. Whatever the platform is, the audience will look for the brand [that is trusted],” he told a seminar, “Future of Journalism”, organised by the Newspaper Owners' Association of Bangladesh (NOAB).
Editors, senior journalists, communication and journalism teachers attended the programme at Sonargaon hotel in the capital yesterday.
The media expert said there was a fear that the print media would find their days diminishing soon with the growth of digital media, but that was not true.
Still now, print media represents 65 to 98 percent of the revenue base in South Asia, and it is not going to dry down anytime soon because of peoples' emotional affinity with print, but digital platforms have to be incorporated simultaneously, he added.
The news contents that are printed can be reached to the audience via internet and smart phones in text, video and audio forms, so the audience avail the news instantly, Earl said.
“Smart phones are going to be the game-changers,” he said, adding it happened in developed countries, and was fast happening in India and Bangladesh.
Earl said there would be an online video revolution in the near future, which would collide with the traditional television.
For all these changes to be smartly embraced, the news media companies have to focus on accuracy, new styles of storytelling, and capacity building of people who can decide the best fits of contents in various platforms, Earl said.
He stressed that news companies need to know their audience better as they change their reading habits with the change of newer technologies.
Ekushey Television Chief Editor Monjurul Ahsan Bulbul said content was the first pillar of journalism, while its presentation came next. “Audiences need to know the truth. So, we have to be accurate whatever form we use,” he said.
The Daily Star Editor and Publisher Mahfuz Anam said news media now had much bigger opportunities to reach the audience with the emergence of digital media. So, it is important to devote more resources for journalists so that they can produce better contents, he said.
“The future of journalism is good for those who change and bad for those who don't,” Mahfuz Anam said.
Prothom Alo Consulting Editor Kamal Ahmed also spoke.