Outward changes to our products reflect the massive upheaval under way across the media landscape.
I’VE been at this organisation more than 12 years and have seen some massive changes in the way we do business.
Arguably, this is the biggest shift Business News has gone through in that period, although it has the hallmarks of another major restructuring that took place here more than a decade ago when we shifted from a free newspaper delivered largely to the CBD to a paid subscription service posted all over the state.
Back then, we realised that asking people to pay for something required us to present them with a product of value, so we embarked on a rapid content transition during 2001-02, which the market accepted, over a period of time, as worthwhile.
Cosmetic changes in the newspaper, the website and the masthead/brand are not just about modernising the look, and I am not going to bore you discussing special fonts and grand designs when the real change is taking place in the servers of our business.
The redesigned newspaper and new-look pages on our website are aimed at highlighting our enhanced data offering – the real reason we have changed so much this week.
Ten years ago we moved from a free product (for consumers) to paid because that meant we could really do business a service.
That mission has not changed in 2013, but the world has. Newspapers are not dead but they are not really growing, either. Consumers are migrating to web-based and mobile access to news and we have to make sure we remain relevant.
We have chosen to link our news with the in-depth data that we hold on business in Western Australia, which is now extensively available on this website. That is a point of difference we are offering readers, because the world has changed rapidly into a commodity market so far as news is concerned.
As an example, last month I watched the Labor leadership spill unfold, almost in real-time on my desktop.
I followed the Twitter feed #auspol and #spill to pick up the news that the prime minister was being challenged, and then caught up with the speculation on who would vote for whom. I watched video of Simon Crean, Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott and knew from their words and body language that it was unlikely any change would occur, even before the caucus was due to meet.
In years gone by I might have picked up a bit of this news via digital means, but I would normally have waited for the television news to get the full picture of the day’s events, and then read the detail the next day in the morning papers.
Business News has played its own part in the process of migration to digital news, and that day was no different. We sent a news flash, just minutes after learning the spill was on. In terms of timing, we were competitive with the major news organisations, which have reporters embedded in Canberra.
But that is just keeping up with the Jones’s. If readers are going to pay for a subscription they want more than what they can get for free from many news services.
In many ways the past few years has been a golden age for consumers. The general public was both well off and spoiled for choice by digital media offerings, from start-ups to traditional suppliers, mostly for free as they jostled to position themselves in the new online market.
But things are starting to change. Online media products have moved beyond the development phase and now have operational costs that need to be sustained. In order to do that, publishers are rolling back the free stuff and asking people to pay. But consumers are less confident in the economy and have less money to spend. They will pay, but only for things they really need.
In business it is much the same. Business-related information often has a greater value, but consumers only need pay for what they can’t easily and conveniently get for free.
At Business News we believe the focus on data, especially concentrated on the local market, will make the difference when it comes to that decision.
For years we have published our hard copy Book of Lists both as a book and regularly in the newspaper. We also have offered CD and online versions, with both formats proving popular.
This week we have married a great deal of that data with our news to offer a comprehensive, blended package of information put in context.
Read about someone in any of our various news formats and the chances are that we have some data about them – their shareholding, remuneration, or company performance.
Also, the reverse is true. If you are online you can look up a company’s details and see what we’ve written about it over the years.
This is not a new concept, but no-one has done anything like this in WA.
It is genuinely exciting to be part of an industry in a state of flux, and trying to take advantage of that with products we believe our customers want.