Growing digital revenue ‘light at end of the tunnel’ for newspapers, NCTJ conference told

Watch the panel discussion here, courtesy of Bournemouth University students Tom Bennett and Jasper Taylor:

The growth in digital revenues for newspapers shows there is light at the end of the tunnel, the managing editor of The Herald and Times Group said today (27 November).

Tom Thompson was speaking as part of a discussion panel on the economics of journalism at the NCTJ Journalism Skills Conference on Wednesday, 27 November.

Tom said The Herald introduced a paywall to its website in January 2012 which has been “extremely successful”. He added there was a bell in the newsroom that rang every time a new subscription was taken out.

The panel, chaired by Andy Bissell from Bournemouth University, with Andy Martin, deputy editor of the Bournmouth Echo and Frank Le Duc, editor of Brighton and Hove News, discussed the ways in which they were using digital content to attract users and create a sustainable economic model for journalism.

The panel were collectively optimistic about the future of the industry, with Tom hoping that The Herald’s digital model would sustain itself within a five-year period.

Andy Martin, who also teaches on NCTJ-accredited courses in Bournemouth, said he had “the most optimistic, positive newsroom in 17 years as a news editor” while acknowledging that the skills levels in the newsroom had “changed beyond all recognition”. Andy said the Echo were still working on adapting and developing their content, referring to their plans to live blog two murder trials simultaneously, providing real-time news content for Echo readers.

Frank Le Duc said if the economic land is to change, it was important to consider two things:  “how we provide it and how we can make it financially viable”.

He also stressed the importance of letting reporters have the freedom to go out into the community and find their own stories. He said he was concerned a trend was forming where fewer reporters were out at council meetings and community events.