By Siphesihle Nkwanyane
GRAHAMSTOWN, South Africa – Postgraduate Diploma in Media Management (PDMM) students were given a sneak peek into the media industry’s future when Primedia’s head of digital innovation, Allan Kent, visited Rhodes University recently.
Kent’s visit to Grahamstown was part of an ongoing partnership between the Sol Plaatje Institute for Media Leadership and Primedia who have sponsored 12 prestigious scholarships for PDMM students over the past four years.
Speaking to PDMM students and others from the School of Journalism and Media Studies on the topic “Managing and Leading Media in the Digital and Social Media Ecosystem,” Kent said the ongoing evolution of the digital world had seen dramatic changes in news consumption behaviours.
Audiences had shifted from spending time on articles to “content snacking” – that is, briefly sampling stories and then moving on, he noted. This change has meant that online news producers must include more information in headlines to ensure consumers, who may never read full stories, still get the essential facts.
This shift, however, has not meant the end of long-form journalism. Kent says audiences are less inclined to read medium length articles online but they are still willing to take time to read in-depth features if these are well crafted and presented.
Kent stressed that journalists and other content producers need to learn new skills to be successful in the future. These include immersive story-telling, transmedia story-telling and data journalism.
They also need to develop digital agility and to learn to make the most of different platforms and opportunities to reach even larger audiences. Journalists and media managers need to stay on top of digital developments to ensure they can take advantage of new technologies for building audiences and generating revenues.
As part of his presentation, Kent demonstrated a number of Primedia’s recent innovations, including an effective tool for ‘load-shedding’ (power cuts) updates, a means visualizing the extent of the recent forest fire in Cape Town and some innovations in story-telling.
Kent stressed the need for ongoing innovation and experimentation and showed how lessons learned in developing one application can provide solutions to other content innovation challenges.
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Siphesihle Nkwanyane is a PDMM student.