Tucked away off busy Oxford St in the suburb of Paddington, leading global and national voices from the world of journalism provided insights into where the industry is and where it is going.
Here are four key takeaways:
1. Journalism and Publishing are not the same thing
While publishing has always supported journalism, the two are very different entities.
David Clinch, global news editor for Storyful made it a point to call out the difference between the two in his talk to the audience.
“Anyone who tells you that there was some ‘good old days’ when journalism was supported by millions and millions of people who were prepared to pay for quality journalism, is full of it because there has always been something sustaining it,” he said
From classified ads to TV commercials – even certain programing. “At CNN, staffers understood that the Larry King show paid for our Baghdad bureau,” he said.
2. Paid online content is here to stay
“You’ve reached a subscriber only article.”
Your blood may boil when you get that message, but according to Andy Webster, Digital editor at The Australian, its paywall isn’t going anywhere.
Mr Webster revealed that nearly 70 per cent of the paper’s revenue comes from subscribers. He also said direct user subscription allows the paper to make nearly twice as much as ad revenue alone.
“Our focus is to be about things that matter – typically politics – and making sure we have the appropriate personnel to prosecute [those stories], tell you what they think matters every day and hope that there are enough people who value that to invest in it,” Webster said.
3. Cars will be like horses in the future
This and other pithy predictions came from Kara Swisher, the irreverent Executive Editor of Recode, during her keynote on tech trends.
Swisher envisaged a future where, once driverless technology takes hold in major cities, car ownership will be a novelty reserved for enthusiasts.
She also predicted Twitter will be sold in the next six months, that the Amazon Echo will sell well because of its human element, and that eventually artificial intelligence will replace all people and jobs, even journalists.
“The best we can hope for is that they treat us like a housecat,” she said.
The veteran tech editor, who revealed she literally gave birth with a BlackBerry in her hand, continued to show that she has a fun, if unusual, grip on tech.
4. Facebook is not killing photo journalism, it is multiplying it
Long-time media photographer and current Head of Photography at Racing Victoria, John Donegan, detailed the changes in the field of photo journalism over the past 20 years, both in terms of tech and audience reach.
Donegan recalled days when it took 30 minutes to transmit a colour image, and that was after it was developed. Now ‘photogs’ are encouraged to keep shooting as images are seamlessly updated to an editor’s computer via a camera’s built in Wi-Fi.
He rebuked the idea that Facebook is killing journalism, citing an image that he captured of the floral tributes for victims of the Martin Place Siege in 2014 for the ABC.
“This photo on the ABC website got a lot of hits and was popular. On Facebook, it was seen 5 million times and shared hundreds of thousands more. That was an audience reach that was impossible before the digital age,” Donegan said.
“People say that Facebook is killing papers. Actually, no. Our Facebook audience was a trusted source to their friends. If you hear a rumour from a stranger, you might dismiss it, but if comes from a trusted friend you put more stock in it. When people share journalism with their friends they trust it.”