Winning for the news media industry in 2018 is a combination of two things, Mark Ritson, a professor at Melbourne Business School, shared at the 2017 INMA World Congress in New York City.

  1. Creating a successful paid circulation model: “Freemium, whatever you want, but it has to be dependent upon getting paid subscription or circulation of one kind of another. Without that … advertising is not going to fill the gap that it once filled in many countries.
  2. Flattening the decline of advertising revenue: “It sounds awfully self-defeating. But I think it’s realistic and, more important,  it drives a strategic awareness that we’re trying to defend rather than grow.

I think one of the problems in the news media industry is they seem to be asking the question, ‘Why shouldn’t it be free?’ My point is why on earth would it ever be free? Make me an argument why all these talented journalists and people who are spending their time with these incredible skills should be giving away that incredible gift, which costs money to produce, for free.

Any other industry would reverse the question. But it’s typical of our industry to say ‘Why should we change for this? The reality is ... it’s a costly wonderful service and we need to work out how to charge for it.

During Ritson’s presentation, he made the statement that “it’s never going to be 1985 again.” Aside from his football prowess in his youth and the music and movies he loved in the ‘80s, Ritson points to this: “We have an acceptance now that we will never have that source of incredible revenue” of classified and big brand advertising the industry had back then.

“There’s … a new normal where we do have a sustainable profitable future, which isn’t full of largess and 1980s-style profit margins, but isn’t the end of the world either. And I think that’s what we must focus on.”