Forum for editors of regional media: top conversation about the future

How to preserve economic and professional independence?  How to determine the niche and the audience? How to find new sources of income and develop a solid business plan? Do we change our attitude towards the media we run and look at the news organisation as if it is a business?  For the two days that the forum was underway eighteen top managers of regional news organisations were jointly seeking answers and sound advice.

The editors discussed their pitfalls, debated and consulted the experts. The Forum organized within the Regional Voices project by the International Institute for Regional Media and Information (Ukraine) and Thomson Foundation (Great Britain) with the financial support of the EU took place in Kharkiv.

Each of the editors willing to share with the colleagues the challenges of the regional media they are working for in the first place, brought in their own story. The represented media were of a different span of coverage: district, inter-district, city and regional; and type: TV, radio, online and print. The forms of ownership and operation specifics differed too. However, all of them had a common goal – stay on the media market and determine what comes next?

Angelina Soldatenko – a Ukrainian media expert and trainer (IRMI) – believes: there is no single “recipe” for everyone. “We have ideas we propose, but the editors have background information and understanding of the needs of their audience. They can choose the model, which will work for them. Though, before doing anything, it is important to study the situation thoroughly, assessing individual editorial capacity and level of staff competence. One cannot set out on a trip without having “paved” the road with information beforehand”.

We discussed important things: it is necessary to produce for certain audience, “tailoring the product”, – says Magda Walter, a trainer and a media expert from Great Britain. – Without a doubt, the critical economic situation has a negative impact on the development of media environment. Nevertheless, I am certain: under any conditions it is possible to survive and find sources of income. It is necessary to be more creative and to take risks. As for your question about the denationalization, I believe, this process will be a fundamental one for strengthening Ukraine’s democracy. Media should be independent from the government and work to build up their authority by everyday honest and independent work.  It is also important to understand that running mass media is a business, where the business side is not to interfere with the editorial side of the process. One can stay on the market, when understanding the target audience, niches, objectives and means to achieve them.

The top managers “created” models of new media and presented their projects for discussion. They learned to brainstorm for creative ideas, study their audiences and propose new high quality product. An idea for a TV channel for Ukrainians living abroad “News from Ukraine” evolved in a group discussion, where a hook was a special way of presenting information. Or a newspaper entitled “Construction Works” – for all developers, who are building in Donetsk region.

Oksana Alekseieva, “Silskyi Kray” socio-political newspaper of Velykonovosilkivsky district:

– The secret of any success is motion. The workshop is not only an opportunity to share experience, but also to generate new ideas. It is very important, that those ideas receive immediate feedback from the colleagues here and now, and new ways of addressing the problems evolve.  We have a chance to change the vector of our movement, look at our objectives from a new perspective. We discussed everything – starting with determining the specifics of a publication depending on the needs of the audience ending with unexpected sources of income. And there is one more thing: monetization of modern media should take place “in minds”, which guarantees its success in actual fact…

We were looking for additional sources of funding during brainstorming sessions, and we discovered that there were many. Here are some of them: publishing, on-line resource, advertising, conducting trainings, involvement of volunteers, receiving grants, tour-campaigning, editing of materials, moderating at events, photography, press-center and production studios.  We discussed pros and cons of combining of business convergence. Can this not cause any damage to the reputation? It surely cannot.

Natalia Zvorygina, acting chief editor of “Zaporizka Pravda” newspaper:

– I became convinced that our problems are not unique, there are problems in the area and they are systematic. Consequently, solving them requires a consistent approach. Brainstorming I am planning to take to my newsroom. I learned about sources of funding and money-making opportunities which were new to me.

Tetiana Belymenko, an editor of “Slovo Trudivnyuka” district newspaper, Zaporizhia region:

– For me new acquaintances are of special importance, fresh ideas on further development of the regional press, discussion of mutual problems and seeking the ways to address them. I believe, the creative ideas that we discussed in groups, have potential to be implemented on the regional level.


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