Laurie and Andrew

Keynote speaker Andrew Phelps (left) speaks with MMX Director Laurie Bley (center) and Editorial Director Tanya Pampalone (right) (Photo: Dianne Hawker).

After and an eventful first day at the MMX15 the keynote address was conducted by Andrew Phelps, strategic product manager at the New York Times who enthusiastically greeted the audience isiZulu.

His address highlighted some interesting facts about the changing landscape of print media in the U.S. over the past 60 years. Specifically the shift in focus from advertising to a prioritisation in digital output.

Phelps primarily focused on the Innovation Report conducted by the NY Times in which audience development and digital-first culture were central to the report. Over the past five years (2011-2014) mobile viewing of the NY Times has soared enormously with over 300 million views and saw a decline in home page viewing. What this means is that audience development becomes central in reaching a wider audience in the digital space.

Digital-first culture as the second strategy aimed to change the Times and allow it to be a space of innovation. “Print is no longer the beginning of the conversation it’s now at the end of the process. Reporting starts with your audience” he stressed. For example the collaboration they did with the new Apple Watch pushed them to create content that is short and interactive for the individual. With this they developed a new form of storytelling starting with the user and the device. The feedback they received was overwhelmingly positive as well as personal in that the cultural change shifted the way people talk about digital.

Phelps advises organisations to take risks in the year in order to maximise output and audience.

Sihle Mtshiselwa & Amanda Murimba, MMX15 Student Newsroom