26 January 2017

Local news : a survival guide for digital transformation

Regional newspapers have had to devise ingenious ways to use social media, data and evolutive business models to achieve a successful digital transformation. Fernando Belzunce, Director of Editorial Innovation and Development at Vocento, answers a few questions on the tested routes regional newspapers ought to follow to thrive in a complicated climate. Fernando Belzunce will be speaking on the topic in a session at the GEN Summit 2017 in Vienna, 21–23 June.

GEN: Many regional newspapers have been struggling with their digital transition, how are regional newspapers faring to convert their audience to digital compared to national newspapers? What factors affect their challenges or successes?
Fernando Belzunce: In a regional environment, the reach of a newspaper is much stronger and more intense compared to the nationals’. I think the main difference is, ultimately, that it has an influence on everything. Regional newspapers are great institutions which play a key role in creating the feeling of community. They are almost like football teams. The pace of digital transformation or the innovation capacity in newsrooms is similar, but on the internet there is more focus to the quality of care given to that audience in all media and not so much an obsession to increase traffic figures at all costs, amongst other reasons, because the natural market has a geographical limitation. In this sense the strategies are more intensive than expansive. Clearly, this also affects the business model because there is a greater effort to seek out other forms of funding which are alternative or complementary to digital advertising, which relies largely on mass audiences.