A marketplace of media ideas


Tolu Ogunlesi summarizes the ‘Big Ideas’ arising from discussions at the two-day African Media Leaders Forum 2009, which took place in Lagos, Nigeria, in November.


Monetising content – especially in the Age of the Internet – will remain one of the media’s biggest challenges.


It was the recurring query in the Forum’s discussions: “How do we monetise this content?”


John Lavine, Professor and Dean of the Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University, USA advocated a shift in perspective; from a “consumer media” outlook to a “business media” outlook. He argued for a micropayment model, saying that farmers for example would not mind paying a small fee for “farm information” (improved varieties of seed and water usage); and that a penny from each of a million people is a more sustainable revenue model than a dollar from ten persons. He classified audiences into two: “general” and “deep.” The general audience, he said, will be attracted, and satisfied, by the breaking news and the “go-to-do” information, while the deep audience will pay for premium content – “deeper news” and “analyses”.

What is certain is that most media businesses will have to struggle with balancing the journalism and the business. The observation by Robert Kabushenga, CEO of Uganda’s New Vision, that: “New [media] versus old [media] is a problem of the newsroom, not the boardroom,” helps to illustrate the often-conflicting realities faced by the content-producing and the content-marketing wings of any media business.

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