Who wants to work in a multimedia newsroom? — or: How imim students shape the future of media

47 questions to survey the attitude towards a multimedia newsroom: that’s what Dieter Bornemann evaluated in an online questionnaire among his colleagues at the Austrian public broadcaster ORF. Dieter is not only their elected spokesperson but also a first-cohort student of the Executive Master’s program in International Media Innovation Management — imim who graduated in October 2013.

Alexander Wrabetz (CEO of Austrian public broadcaster ORF) using Bornemann's thesis for his presentation of the future ORF newsroom. (c) Wimmer

Alexander Wrabetz (CEO of Austrian public broadcaster ORF) using Bornemann’s thesis for his presentation of the future ORF newsroom. (c) Wimmer

Recently, Dieter’s thesis has been used to argue the meaning of a change process at the ORF and other traditional broadcasters: in external and internal discussions like board meetings. Even the European Broadcasting Union EBU invited Dieter to Geneva to present his conclusions to all EBU members.

207 journalists of the station’s TV, radio and online news answered the survey about the introduction of a multimedia newsroom. Dieter evaluated how ORF journalists approach a convergent workplace. Besides, he compared six radio and TV stations — from the BBC to Danish Broadcaster DR — and how their journalists’ work changed in a multimedia environment.

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imim – where “weak ties” promote creativity and innovation

“First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin”? For imim students, this Leonard Cohen song would have to be sung the other way around: After having met at Berlin University for Professional Studies last week, they will meet again in November in Manhattan for visits at The New York Times and other media companies (in between, there will be two more attendance blocks in Elche and Madrid/Spain and at the Poynter Institute/Florida).

The Berlin week focussed on improving innovation managers’ soft skills — especially in terms of communication and leadership — by reflecting on their cultural, professional and personal background. The week started off with Gerhard Apfelthaler lecturing on intercultural differences in media economics and management. Gerhard, who is Dean at California Lutheran University and one of the beta-testers of GoogleGlass, spoke about the cultural traits that enhance innovativeness, such as individualism. According to him, individualistically oriented U.S.-type cultures are more productive and acceptant of new problem-solving methods than collectivistic ones (not that individualistic cultures don’t have their downsides, as well).

From professional to personal

British-Swiss media management professor Lucy Küng analysed innovation strategies in media corporations and provided the students with solutions for problems in their day-to-day work. One of her most important “take-away messages”: In order to create an environment which fosters innovation, boost your weak ties! According to social network analysis, each one of us has “strong ties” (family, friends) and “weak ties” (people, with whom you share an interest). These weak ties help stimulate our creative and innovative abilities — much more than our closest relationships. Lucy characterised imim as one of these innovation-fostering environments.

On the personal level, Thomas Bauer supported the students in improving their communication skills; he will follow up with a seminar on leadership in 2015 and will also provide feedback on the group’s development.

Visits at Welt Digital and KircherBurkhardt

A highlight of the week was a visit of the content marketing agency KircherBurkhardt, where founder Lukas Kircher inspired imim students not only with his venture’s portfolio, but also with his entrepreneurial spirit. He recommended keeping a close eye on media channels like The Verge (created in cooperation with Vox Media; former Washington Post journalist Ezra Klein just announced that he would found a new publication at Vox). 

A second highlight was, Romanus Otte, General Manager of Welt Digital, inviting the group to the publication’s brand new newsroom. Though part of Welt Digital, daily Die Welt just happens to be printed on paper. Editor-in-chief Jan-Eric Peters had a off-the-record talk with the students in order to explain Welt Digital’s strategy. 

For the next attendance block in Spain, Romanus Otte gave the students the assignment to come up with ideas for start-ups or projects in their respective countries. The task will be rounded off by students presenting their projects to foreign investors in a mock “elevator pitch”: Each student is allocated about 1 minute to pitch their idea to a fictitious investor whom they happen to meet on the elevator.

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Students’ talk with Jan-Eric Peters: “Try to live the change”

This gallery contains 3 photos.

Thursday evening, Jan-Eric Peters, editor-in-chief of Die Welt, joined imim students and faculty during their Berlin attendance block for a background talk. “We still are at the beginning of the digital revolution”, Peters said. His publications’ editorial and production team (online, … Continue reading

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Newman’s Predictions for the New Year

At the end of each year, Nic Newman, who is a Visiting Fellow at Oxford’s Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism and lecturer at imim, looks back. And then he looks ahead — and shares his predictive insights in a report (the full document can be read here).


(c) Netflix

The overriding trend is format disruption, in every sense of the meaning: Regarding the TV market, Newman regards “House of Cards” (with Kevin Spacey) as setting standards. The Netflix production was released in a way that allowed “viewers to watch at their own pace”. Currently, according to Nielsen, 38% of US households use Netflix’ on-demand service (p. 8f). This model will threaten classical TV’s business model, Newman says. He also predicts a “dramatic loss of audiences” for public service TV: “down 10% year-on-year” (p. 12).

For newspaper-like content, all that disruption results in a layout that conforms more to the standards of real-life visuality, not to the ones of printing machines: Newman mentions Medium (created by Twitter founder Evan Williams) as an example for “single image hero panels” that seem to replicate head-up displays instead of classical navigation bars (cf. p. 30). Even hardware formats (think of wearables, like Google‘s “Glass” or Samsung‘s smart watch) or advertising formats (native ads) are disrupted. We should not be surprised: 2,500 years ago, Heraclitus asserted that the only constant is change.


(c) Columbia

In terms of content, the “improved reading experience on tablets” and “tools that let you save content for offline reading” makes people read longer pieces again and revives their “taste for substance” (p. 19). That might lead to making media consider charging for their articles more seriously: Newman predicts that the Guardian — one of the fiercest opponents of paid online content to date — and other UK national papers will introduce at least a “paywall trial for some specialist content” (p. 26).

Furthermore, traditional publishing houses such as the New York Times or Axel Springer invest heavily in video storytelling (p. 20), shooting their own documentaries. Even content marketing explores new audiovisual online formats — Pharrell Williams’ 24-hours interactive music video “Happy” sets a milestone (p. 22).

Publishers’ consolation: Facebook faces disruption, too. Newman states that in 2013 teenagers were leaving the social network “in droves”. But the condition of new and old media is the same: People “are not abandoning Facebook“, they are “just experimenting with additional spaces” (p. 15).

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First step of imim’s journey taken

Tired?! Thanks to all of you for these eight inspiring days!! For a review of what happened during the program last week, please have a look at this.


Martin Schipany, Tanja Paar, Naser Selmani, Paulo Rebelo, Michael Vielhaber, Karin Strobl, Markus Kichl, Ongame Angala, Martina Pock, Alina Tsonkova, Sonja Sagmeister, Manuela Kosch, Georgi Makaradzhiyski, Konstantin Vulkov

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The Guardian’s digital strategist at imim

SAMSUNGAfter last evening’s graduation celebrations of the first cohort, Wolfgang Blau stayed with the new imim Master’s students for a question & answer session on Thursday morning.

Together with program director Andy Kaltenbrunner and Poynter affiliate Bill Mitchell the group talked about The Guardian‘s international strategy as well as their internal workflow and change management. Blau is digital strategy manager at the British media organisation.

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Impressions of our Vienna Module, March 3rd – 9th

On Sunday, March 3rd, Lucy Küng kicked off IMIM’s fifth module (“International Media Innovation Management”) in Vienna: with a case-study on the (mis-) management of the BBC during last autumn’s Jimmy Savile scandal followed by false allegations of a former politician in the broadcaster’s “Newsnight” program

On Monday, our Master’s program continued with a symposium organised in cooperation with Austria’s public broadcaster ORF:  For “Media in Transit/ion” our speakers and audience focused on three aspects of current media developments: (1) user generated content, (2) mobile devices and (3) moving images.

Anthony Sullivan, Lucy Küng, Dieter Bornemann.
(c) imim

The aspects were illustrated by Anthony Sullivan (The Guardian),Lucy Küng (Universities of Jönköping, St. Gallen and Oxford), Martin Zimper (Zurich University of the Arts) and German multi-media journalist and entrepreneur Richard Gutjahr. Lucy Küng described a “boiling frog”-situation that legacy media seems to be pushed into: They keep adjusting to a more and more challenging environment, not recognizing how precarious the situation is they maneuvre themselves into. Anthony Sullivan, Product Manager for Online & Mobile at the Guardian, said that media has to focus on the user. His editor-in-chief, Alan Rusbridger, refuses to introduce a paywall (the Guardian/Observer group has been reporting losses for a few years now – “despite double-digit growth in digital revenues”).

Dieter Bornemann (moderation), Andy Kaltenbrunner (program director imim), Richard Gutjahr. (c) imim

Richard Gutjahr presented his case-studies of last year’s politainment format rundshow and crowd sourcing/funding platform LobbyPlag. For Bavaria’s public broadcaster, he tried to integrate viewers into the late-night show. For the watchblog LobbyPlag he wants to shed light on how the European Union’s decision-making is influenced by lobbies.

Gerhard Apfelthaler (California Lutheran University).     (c) imim





 Gerhard Apfelthaler held a seminar on “The Influence of Culture on Innovation (and Organizations)”. From his point of view, individualistic cultures — such as the anglo-saxon — are more likely to be innovative than rather collectively oriented cultures (e.g. continental Europe, Asia)

José García Avilés (c) imim





With the help of IMIM’s Scientific Board, including José García Avilés (Universidad Miguel Hernández, Elche/ESP), Claudia Janssen (Berlin University for Professional Studies/GER), Matthias Karmasin (Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt/AUT) and Klaus Meier (University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt/GER), the students worked on their Master’s thesis projects.

video conference with Nic Newman (c) imim





Due to an injury, Nic Newman who is currently a Visiting Fellow at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism/University of Oxford unfortunately was not able to come to Vienna. We had a q&a session with him per video conference. Just recently, Nic edited the RISJ Digital Report and his Technology, media and journalism predictions 2013.

The seminars took place at IMIM’s Viennese carrier fjum_forum for journalism and media.



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Beyond TV

Channel 4 and the multiplatform environment

Discussions about the television industry cannot seem to escape the inundation of buzz terms and the constant search for the ultimate innovation holy grail. Multiplatform, transmedia, cross-media, connected TV, smart TV, hybrid production – these are all words widely being tossed around to describe the present and future transformation of television.

The terms “broadcasting” and “television” seem somewhat outdated as media companies known as “broadcasters” continue to grapple with how to best position themselves, evolve and connect with audiences.

However, it is not only the use of terminology that needs to be reassessed. The creation of audiovisual content from commissioning stage to distribution stage needs to be approached in the light of digital creativity and multiplatform opportunities. How are TV stations responding to change, particularly multiplatform adaptation?

Channel 4 seems to be grabbing the bull by its horns and taking charge in the new online scenario. In a white paper on Channel 4′s multiplatform publishing strategy, Frank Boyd describes the organisation as “the most innovative and adventurous broadcaster in the UK when it comes to experimentation with multiplatform publishing.” In the 2011 Bafta Awards, three of the four projects nominated for Digital Creativity were in fact Channel 4 productions.

But how is Channel 4 managing change? As quoted in the white paper, C4′s head of online Richard Davidson-Houston believes that “companies need to overcome some of the fundamental assumptions embedded in the professional cultures inherent in different sectors to learn a new approach to development and production”. Similarly, in an interview with Power to the Pixel, Louise Brown, multiplatform Commissioning Lead at Channel 4, talks of C4’s particular remit as a public broadcaster and the need for people to interact with broadcast output.

Channel 4 presents an interesting case study on company change and adaptation. The company’s focus is no longer about being a television station but about delivering content with the maximum possible impact. As expressed unapologetically by Davidson-Houston – television is just part of what Channel 4 does.

The Big Fish Fight multiplatform initiative by Channel 4 is great example of a project that uses the interplay of TV and interactive media across multiple platforms to achieve a concrete goal and audience engagement. The project set-out with two sustainability objectives: to end the EU practice of discarding fish and to encourage consumers to opt for a more diverse range of fish. The project reached far and wide with supermarket chains taking concrete action and political debate in the UK Parliament.

Channel 4 is transforming itself to a converged creative business in its quest to be ahead of the game in digital innovation. The organisation’s work is a reminder that transformation and convergence have indeed happened. A ‘wait and see’ strategy is no longer a viable solution and digital opportunities across platforms are up for grabs.


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Pop goes Mozilla

Game changing innovation by the Mozilla Foundation

Up until a year ago, the name Mozilla was to me the name of an internet browser. Then came the excitable tweets from a journalist friend who was in Ravensbourne, London attending #MozFest. The tweets enticed me to find out more about my friend’s discovery.

A year on and several tweets later, I now know that Mozilla is so much more than browser. The Mozilla Foundation is an organisation that has grown over the past fifteen years with a mission to drive change and innovation by enabling the open web. The Mozilla festival organised by the foundation, is a unique gathering for hip geeks enthusiastic about the future of the web and all things tech and shareable. The yearly festival is an opportunity for web developers, journalists, gamers, educators, filmmakers and all those keen to share skills and expertise.

 Mozilla’s cutting edge is its focus on citizen empowerment and the determination to create products that serve the user. Openness and transparency are at the core of the organisation’s mission as expressed in the recently published Mozilla Annual Report:

 “Mozilla’s vision of the Internet is a place where anyone can access information, a place where everyone can hack and tinker; one that has openness, freedom and transparency; where users have control over their personal data and where all minds have the freedom to create and to consume without walls or tight restrictions.”

 Mozilla’s Popcorn Maker, a free web app, is a concrete example of this organisation is creating products with the potential of becoming game changers rather than mere trend setters.

 Web video is rapidly gaining ground, yet until recently it was difficult to create interactive video. With Popcorn Maker users can augment, remix and share web video. The new app allows users to create sophisticated interactive video which can be circulated across the web with great ease and speed.

The TEDTalk by Beau Lotto and Amy O’Toole was augmented by the team Mozilla using Popcorn Maker. This shows how a video or audio file on the web can be enhanced by layering in services and content from the web, using a drag-and-drop interface

Popcorn Maker’s disruptive potential is described in a recent on article FastCompany: “its toylike simplicity is exactly what makes the app as potentially disruptive as YouTube was to video and WordPress was to publishing.”

Change and innovation is about creating possibilities. We have been constantly witnessing how media is changed with the remixing and sharing of simple web tools. However, video was until recently a one way medium – we could make and send web video but not interact with that content. Mozilla recognised that lacuna and worked with the community to create a user-friendly tool to change and innovate video content. 

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Newspaper extinction timeline – When newspapers in their current form will become insignificant

“Australian futurist and entrepreneur Ross Dawson has gone about predicting the death of newspapers according to country, charting out his observations in the map pictured here.


His point is not just that newspapers in their current form will become, as he says, “insignificant”, but exactly when this happens varies from country to country.

The extinction, Dawson predicts, will start in more developed countries, beginning with the US in 2017, followed by UK and Iceland in 2019 and Canada and Norway in 2020. But in most countries, newspapers in their current form will still be around in 2040, so prophetic claims of the death of the newspaper are premature at best. “

(http://designtaxi.com/news/33318/Newspaper-Extinction-Timeline-Read-All-About-it-Online/; access  Nov.5 2012)

Austria has still 16 years to read printed newspapers – and your country? ;-)

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