Thank God it’s Friday

Posted on May 22, 2015

I don’t feel blue about journalism

Uncovering the new German Art Magazine BLAU (“Blue”) and the unrest around Facebook’s Instant Articles (From a user/client perspective)

Christoph Sholz in front of the New Yorck Times

Working in the entertainment sector we receive most of our news, arts and entertainment coverage from newspapers and magazines in their printed or online incarnations, as well as from TV and Radio, and from online publications. Facebook and Twitter have become amplifiers of this.

We at SC Exhibitions are not only consumers of news and stories; we are in constant dialogue with journalists and publishing houses, spending advertising money and having our cultural events presented by newspapers, TV or radio stations. Journalists review our exhibitions and accompany us on press trips, and are regularly invited to speak at our own conference The Touring Exhibitions Meeting (our guest this September in Istanbul is UK writer Christopher Beanland).

Working in this media-soaked environment, you constantly hear that journalism is heading towards an apocalyptic end. The Horsemen – better, the Last Judgment – of this predicted Apocalypse of Journalism are, as many say, Facebook and Google.

The actual Apocalypse began, as has been widely noted, a few days ago, when Facebook announced its Instant Articles, which will see some of the world’s most respected newspapers and magazines tailor articles for the Facebook application. You won’t have to leave Facebook anymore to visit the website or app of The New York Times or Germany’s BILD, you will stay in Mr Zuckerberg’s realm. instantarticles.fb.com Commentators, media strategists, and writers were unified in an outcry against this development. I read many articles predicting the end of The New York Times because of this move; saying that the respected newspaper is now fully dependent on Facebook.

Because of that long introduction to this week’s column, I will never be accepted as a writer for the Times. Newspapers and Facebook are not our business, but from a reader/user/client perspective, I can say that I don’t feel blue for journalism. Here’s why:

  1. BLAU (the German word for blue) is the name of a brand-new monthly art magazine, a supplement to newspaper Die Welt (“The World”). A leading national daily here in Germany, until just a few years ago Die Welt was the most boring newspaper to ever exist on our planet. The vision of the newspaper’s publisher, who leads Germany’s digital avant-garde, has since transformed it into a powerhouse of quality journalism. They merged with a TV channel; they invited renowned artists to design special editions; they’ve experimented with social media and fostered young journalists, and now they’ve created a very good art magazine as a supplement. BLAU is vivid proof of the reinvention of glossy first class journalism in print. There are other examples, such as the success story of Monocle magazine, which blends superior journalism in print and radio, and is known for being innovative with advertising formats.

    We as readers/users/advertisers welcome this innovative 360-degree approach to journalism, publishing and advertising.

  2. Reporters on Twitter (Facebook and other social media channels): It’s great to read articles in print and online, listen to a radio feature or watch TV, but journalism now has an additional layer. We as readers can easily get in touch with writers or chief editors, with reporters interacting, broadcasting and writing on social media. Germany’s BILD newspaper opened a night newsroom in Los Angeles and they tweet all night long at @BILD_LA. This new world is, to me, somehow spiritual and not yet fully incarnated.
  3. The ability to work more closely with journalists/publishers than a decade ago. For our annual SC Exhibitions Magazine this year we licensed articles from German blogger Richard Gutjahr, The Guardian, The India Times, The Independent, Expost Magazine and Die Welt, which was fun and inspirational for us. We could never afford to write the articles ourselves, and the publishers are happy about the – affordable – license fees we paid. We received compliments and thank you notes from the US, China, Taiwan, Russia, Dubai and New Zealand for this magazine. I call this Win-Win. (Here’s a link, if you want to read it.)
  4. New things. Have you heard about California Sunday or The Guardian’s Cultural Professionals Network? Or Coca-Cola’s web project Journey? Check it out. As a reader/advertiser I see light speed innovation in the media industry.

Google, Facebook and Twitter are powerful, but without journalistic content they would be boring abandoned places. Can you imagine your favorite social media channel without the news stream from your favourite newspaper or TV channel? Me either. I am sure that The New York Times will survive, because it’s a great product, and because Facebook is a great product too. That’s why I don’t feel blue for journalism.

The next BLAU supplement to Die Welt will hit newsstands on May 30. BLAU will likely not join the instant Facebook program, and chief editor Cornelius Tittel opened his first issue with a harsh plea against museum curators on Twitter. I shall send him a fax with this column.

Image from The Library of Congress at flickr.comImage from The Library of Congress at flickr.com

Best,
Christoph Scholz
Director SC Exhibitions

I invite you to follow me on Twitter

The next issue will be published on Friday, June 5.



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