Email
Password
Remember meForgot password?
    Log in with Twitter

article imageFuture of Media Preview: Q&A w/ Globe & Mail’s Steve Ladurantaye Special

By David Silverberg     Feb 27, 2013 in Business
In this interview with the Globe & Mail's media reporter, Steve Ladurantaye gives us a taste of what he thinks about branded content in a lead-up to a March 14 Future of Media discussion in Toronto.
Ladurantaye covers print media, publishing, broadcasting, but also touches on issues related to sports and entertainment businesses. As he describes his work day, he spends “a lot of time reading financials and talking to executives about what they are doing to salvage their businesses in some of the toughest conditions the industry has ever seen.”
I chatted with him about the role of branded content in journalism, emerging business models for newspaper and where he sees the Globe & Mail in five years.
Since we’re talking about branded content at Future of Media, tell us what you think about the rise in brand journalism, both in Canada and abroad? Is this good for journalists? The media field?
Anything that helps replace the money papers are losing on the print advertising side is good for journalists, provided we’re not crossing any ethical lines as we blur editorial and advertising. And that’s where the biggest misconceptions lie – branded content isn’t the same as advertorial. For as long as there have been trade magazines and papers, there have been special sections that run off of an editorial calendar so that the ad department can sell around the content.
But the advertiser has no say in the actual content, except maybe in a very broad sense (i.e. they’ll buy ad space as long as the stories are about a certain industry).
So would a newspaper necessarily be all that interested in writing a series on the sustainable fibreglass Christmas tree industry? Probably not – but if an advertiser wants to underwrite that I’m sure there are some interesting stories to tell.
And while that’s all happening, the rest of the journalism gets to keep happening in the rest of the paper. Ideal situation? I’m not sure. But I personally prefer it to letting that money walk out the door permanently.
Your newspaper recently featured a piece about brand journalism. “Businesses that do it properly can create a huge competitive advantage, while increasing their credibility and relevancy in the marketplace.” Do you agree?
Sure. But first of all let’s call brand journalism what it is – it’s just PR with a fancy name. Think of how awesome it is for NASA to be its own broadcaster when it launches a piece of machinery to Mars and starts bossing it around. Is it good for the brand? I’m sure the positivity of it all casts a warm glow on the companies that do it well.
But I still think there’s something to be said for getting that same exposure from an outside source that is able to broaden the story, put it in context and package it in a way that makes it understandable. And this probably goes without saying – but in terms of the broader public discourse I’m not sure anyone would want to see a world where the main source of corporate news is the corporations themselves.
The media industry is still in turmoil. Paywalls are coming up to try to drive digital revenue. Social media managers are scrambling to ensure content goes viral. What do you see as a prescription for success for a print media outlet in Canada? What would you recommend to a publisher looking for advice?
If I was in a position to give publishers advice I’d be making a lot more money than the typical reporter, I suspect. But the one thing that I hear from a lot of people who spend their time thinking about this sort of thing is that the only advantage media companies have over their competitors at this point is staff – there are simply few other sources in any given community that can match the reporting firepower of the local newspaper.
Lots of other functions can be outsourced and centralized, but the true competitive advantage of companies who rely on content to make money are the people who generate that content. I think in the coming years we’ll see that owning and operating everything else – distribution, printing, HR, office management – will increasingly be seen as expensive luxuries.
Where do you see a publication like the Globe in five years from now? How will it look, how will it be consumed by readers?
I don’t think anyone knows that answer to that. The only thing we can do – and I’m speaking in generic terms here and not about any one paper – is make sure we’re investing the money that we are making now to build something that is going to start making money for us down the road.
What’s that going to be? Considering the pace of change and the way it’s accelerating – I think maybe we should start investing in news androids we can program to visit each subscriber’s house every morning. They could make them coffee and give them massages while reading them the day’s news. That would totally save journalism.
This article originally appeared in the Future of Media blog.
Check out the Q&A with BuzzFeed's Jonathan Perelman.
More info on Future of Media's March 14 event can be found here.
More about Steve Ladurantaye, Globe and mail, Newspaper, Future of media, content marketing
 
Latest News
Top News