Looking for ways to still make money in the future - through new concepts for print and the monetization of online content -; looking for ways to attract young new readers and yet retain once-won ones; looking for ammunition against ad blockers and arguments against shrinking advertising spend; and above all, the media and media makers are looking for themselves: Who are we? What rights do we have? What tasks do we have to fulfill? Who supports us in this? Politics, private individuals, crowdfunders, we each other, just ourselves, no one?
It's not news that the media industry is in a state of upheaval. For one or two media companies, the first solutions are slowly emerging from the great perplexity: 20 Minuten mercilessly plays out all the news online as quickly as it can. At the end of each day, there is a best-of, which then fills the print edition of the next day. In the best case, 20 Minuten has all the news online first. In the worst case, the reader has already read everything that appears in print online. So 20 Minuten can still make up for the losses that print writes online. But when will 20 Minuten make the Tagi superfluous if the commuter paper defines executives as its target group? And when the most important requirement for journalists is to be young?
On its way into the future, the NZZ is searching for the reader and the core of the newspaper, journalism. Both have been lost sight of in recent years. For a long time, the user was an unknown, sometimes undesirable factor for the media, according to the old aunt's belly. So here, the path to the digital millennium leads to the rediscovery of what has already been done, to a return to the roots. Not the worst way - but not the best either.
But what has really changed? Us? Not in the slightest. The reader himself? Not at all. They still want to be informed quickly, well and entertainingly, just as they did 100 years ago. What has changed is the range of media and the variety of channels on which it can be consumed. And this has also increased the competition for every media company - especially in the battle for readers and advertising revenues.
The time is not yet ripe for ready-made solutions that will release the stranglehold that many media companies have been in for years. We are still in the middle of the trial and error phase, at the beginning of a new era that we do not know exactly where it will take us. That's why we have to try things out at the moment, experiment for all we're worth with an alert head and a clear heart. We have to entice and convince our readers with clever offers, quickly discard what doesn't work and offer new starting points for reader enthusiasm. Because the reader, who will once again be paying for media services in the future, is looking for an offer that reliably satisfies his very personal need for information, that he can rely on, that offers him a media and - as Eric Gujer says - intellectual home. The reader of the future no longer wants a newspaper or an online portal. They want a media brand that suits them one hundred percent, that pleases them, is fun and provides them with knowledge.
Jeans from Levis do not fit every backside. If they don't fit, you'd rather wear Wrangler. Or Replay or Gap. But if a Levis fits you, you'll always wear Levis - if only because they don't fit everyone. What I want to say: In the media evolution process of his personality, every person comes into contact with very different media offerings. And at some point in this process, the decision is made to use one offer and not the other. Once you've made up your mind, you're not particularly fond of changing. Or do you read the Tagi from Monday to Friday and the NZZ am Sonntag on the weekend? And the Blick the following week? Media offerings can afford not to be read by some people - if those who receive them are loyal and remain so. Any media brand that wants to survive in these times must aim for such a clear profile.
Media don't have to go where their readers are. If a media brand occupies a clear space, its readers will find it there.
On the way to a convincing media brand, however, many media makers first have to overcome the print-online divide. The fact that there is so much talk of media convergence in Switzerland indicates that people still think and act in terms of print and online. Readers who have chosen a media brand will in future read the printed copy on the bench under a tree in the sun, or mobile on the train, depending on their mood and situation. The crucial thing is that they always turn to the same address when they want to know or get rid of something. They will do so if the quality is right. Only then.
Anne-Friederike Heinrich, editor-in-chief