Newsrooms should be ‘gate-openers, not gate-keepers’

Newsrooms should be ‘gate-openers, not gate-keepers’Raju Narisetti, head of strategy at News Corp in the US, wants to challenge conventional thinking at the Future Forum.

Many problems in the news industry today are not necessarily new, but their resolution requires a fresh examination of current practices, according to News Corp’s global head of strategy Raju Narisetti.

Mr Narisetti will speak at the Future Forum, hosted by The Newspaper Works, in September. He will be joined by an international line-up of speakers to discuss ways to influence a connected world.

As the global head of strategy at News Corp, Mr Narisetti helps drive and reshape the digital growth of the company – and mobile is a key focus.

Previously, he worked at The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post Co, and also founded Indian newspaper Mint.

At the Future Forum, Mr Narisetti wants to highlight challenges faced by the industry and question the bedrock practices currently in place.

“While there may not be instant solutions that address every publisher’s issues, it is worth challenging conventional thinking that often muddies progress at the critical intersection of newsroom, product, technology and monetisation,” he said.

In a new era of information and creation, newsrooms and news brands need to adapt by acting as gate-openers rather than gate-keepers, said Mr Narisetti.

“While our core strength is still the journalism and information we create, our greater opportunity is combining that with the trust readers put in our ability to help them navigate an ever enlarging sea of information and news,” he said.

Mobile platforms are used by more and more newsrooms to reach wider audiences, however, this platform still poses many challenges.

“The challenge is around mobile phones where the form-factor and the lack of innovative, non-intrusive ad templates has been a growing problem for all news publishers,” he said.

News Corp has seen good results in monetising aspects of its mobile ecosystem, with success in mimicking the newspaper reading experience in digital form.

“Because of our belief in subscriptions, and the idea that readers can access their favourite brands on any device with the same log-in, we are in a better position than many ad-only publishing models,” he said.

In 2007, Mr Narisetti founded Indian business newspaper Mint. Part of this decision was ego driven, he said.

“The first 24 years of my life were spent in India, and even after I moved to the US in 1990, I would visit frequently,” he said.

“Invariably, I would feel that there was a dearth of ethical, clear, reader-centric business journalism in India, and that led to believe that a billion people deserve better newspapers.”

His experience at the newspaper has been a rewarding one, teaching him about many aspects of the industry.

“What Mint taught me was that if you have a clear vision for the kind of journalism you want to practice, and are able to translate that into tangible user benefits via an engaging product, even in a very crowded market like India, you can create a differentiated and sustainable news brand,” he said.

“And, more importantly, a business model,” he said. “I spent the first several months in creating a Code of Conduct by which Mint would operate when it eventually launched.

“That living document was key to building a great newspaper, well after I returned to the US. That, plus a 14-hour, six-days-a-week, personal work schedule!”

For inspiration, Mr Narisetti looks to different big names in the industry. He admires Facebook for successfully conquering mobile, Twitter for its ownership over breaking news, and The New York Times for leading the charge on metro newspaper paywalls, just to name a few.

“I admire a lot of people and brands in our industry, for a variety of small and big reasons,” he said.

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