Preview: Media War: Platforms vs Publishers & Influencers
Jessica Best is the Head of Editorial at Blendle and former news editor at the DailyMirror. With a passion in journalism and skills in digital, Best naturally found herself a part of a panel discussion where both come together. In modern day, there is a battle between publishers and social influencers. Best describes her background with me and shares a sneak peek on what the battle in modern day media really means.
Describe your background and how your passion for journalism in the digital/media field began.
I was always a nosey kid and loved to read, so as soon as I was old enough I started badgering my local paper to let me come in and see what went on there. I did a bachelor’s degree in Journalism, Film and Media, then a postgraduate diploma in newspaper journalism in 2008-09 — as the bottom was falling out of the print media market, and digital-first thinking was coming to the fore. Our tutors on that postgraduate course made us acutely aware that print skills would not be enough to make us employable in the industry long-term and we were encouraged to embrace digital whole-heartedly, so that’s what I did. I worked at a number of local newspapers — at first combining print and digital reporting skills, before moving into roles as a digital reporter, social media editor, and online news editor. For me, from a journalistic perspective, the switch to digital represented a chance to tell stories and reach more audiences in different, dynamic ways. We’re all still figuring out how to get that right, but I always tried to view it as an opportunity rather than a threat.
What is your stance on how social media influencers are changing the way people seek information (without revealing too much detail for your upcoming panel)?
Loyalty to individual brands is becoming less and less important to readers. The title of the upcoming panel is “Media War: Platforms vs Publishers“. That encapsulates the way many (particularly young) readers now find media brands, and information, through social platforms/influencers rather than a direct, sustained relationship with a publication.
What is Blendle? Describe your position at the company and what a regular day looks like.
Blendle is a platform with a mission to help people access quality, paid-for journalism — you could see us as a kind of “journalism lab”. We started out with micropayments, allowing users to pay small amounts for individual articles from the biggest publishers in the Netherlands, Germany and the U.S. In the Netherlands, we have also launched Blendle Premium, which allows users to pay a flat rate of €9.99 for access to a personalized selection of 20 articles a day. I lead the U.S. editorial team — a team of editors who put together multiple newsletters every week to surface the very best stories for our users — and I help to coordinate editorial strategy across the Netherlands, Germany, and the U.S. Like all journalists my day starts with the headlines. Blendle is based just outside Amsterdam, so we are 6-9 hours ahead of the U.S. My first port of call each morning is to turn the radio on, take a look at the stories leading the major websites and networks overnight, and check what people are talking about on social. I’ll take time to look at statistics for what people read on Blendle the previous day, before heading into my team’s daily news conference, where we discuss what questions we want to answer for our readers that day, and what is going to go in that day’s newsletter. The rest of the morning might be taken up with actually producing the newsletter — by reading all the papers and magazines in Blendle’s kiosk — and sending it out by 8 a.m. Eastern Time. The afternoon might then be given over to discussions with the publishers we work with, planning projects like special edition newsletters, looking at how we use mobile pushes or social, or one-on-ones with my team.
What advice would you give someone who wants a job in the digital/media or journalism field?
Keep a really open mind about what a journalism job looks like these days — there are so many ways you can make a difference in the field now.
What is your ultimate career goal? Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I think it’s difficult for anyone working in journalism right now to know where we’ll be in 10 years, but I very much hope I’ll still be involved in finding ways to sustain and support quality journalism.
Thank you to Jessica Best who shared her personal and professional experiences with me! You can find and follow Jessica Best on Twitter.