The News Media Alliance advocates for its members on issues such as the recently reversed Trump administration tariffs on Canadian newsprint, copyright protection and the power dominant social media platforms have over the news industry. The Arlington, Virginia-based trade association’s members represent nearly 2,000 news organizations in the U.S., including large media groups, international outlets, hyperlocal news sources and digital-only entities.
News & Tech asked President and CEO David Chavern to weigh in on issues and trends the industry is seeing as we move into 2019.
News & Tech: You've said that 2019 looks
to be a pivotal year for news publishing.
In what way?
2019 is going to be a major turning point for the news media industry for two big reasons: technology, and mergers and acquisitions within the industry. In the world of tech, we’re seeing a lot of new possible solutions for the news industry, from Apple’s revamped Texture app to subscription and payment products from Google and Facebook. We’re going into the new year with the tech companies looking to offer us answers and not cause more problems. The two questions we will all need to ask are will the tech solution materially increase revenue, and will it increase or decrease attachment to our news brands? The industry needs the answer to both questions to be “yes.”
Another reason 2019 will be pivotal is the way the industry is changing its landscape from within. It is easy to anticipate that several big publishers and media chains will change hands throughout the year. We’ve already seen major shifts in ownership in 2018, from the Los Angeles Times’s sale to Patrick Soon-Shiong, to Meredith’s sale of Time magazine, to Tribune taking bids from other news organizations, such as McClatchy, this fall. As we move into 2019, we’ll see M&A accelerate and reveal a wide range of different strategic choices within the industry.
News & Tech: What is the NMA's top
priority for 2019?
The Alliance’s top priority for 2019
is protecting our members from the challenges posed by the duopoly and increasing the revenue to news from the tech industry. We will be pushing hard for the “Journalism Competition and Preservation Act,” introduced by Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) in the last Congress.
News & Tech: What do you predict on
the business side for the media industry
In addition to mergers and acquisitions being at the forefront in 2019, I also anticipate that in 2019 we’ll begin to see rapid consolidation in digital publishing systems — like The Washington Post’s Arc, New York Media’s Clay and new products from WordPress — with just a handful emerging as the engines that drive all publishers into the future. There has already been talk this year of the need for a smaller number of digital publishing tools, with some suggesting that having just one digital publishing platform with an integrated advertising marketplace could create a strong counterweight to Facebook and Google.