Romanus Otte’s advice on media innovation: “Just do it!”

Although there was Barcelona playing Chelsea on Tuesday evening, about 100 guests attended a discussion organized on the occasion of the Spanish module of the Executive MA program “International Media Innovation Management”. In Alicante’s “Club Información”, auditorium of local newspaper “Diario Información”, three international experts shared their views on media innovation:

  • Romanus Otte, General Manager, “Die Welt” digital, Berlin
  • Mario Tascón,  Designer & Consultant, Prodigioso Volcán, Madrid
  • Andy Kaltenbrunner, Program Director “International Media Innovation Management”, Vienna
  • Moderator: José Alberto García Avilés, Universidad Miguel Hernández, Elche

Mario Tascón (taking a picture in the editorial office of Diario Información, left), who led two of the biggest Spanish online media El Mundo and El País, said that hardly any media company in his country invests in R&D or innovation departments. Media manager are just not used to change. That is something they have to learn, Andy Kaltenbrunner said: “As Lars Jespersen of Danish media group Nordjyske put it: We have to change fluently.” Kaltenbrunner referred to the Austrian daily “Der Standard”: In 2011 for the first time its online edition brought a higher profit than the newspaper edition. 

Evidence of how inflexible traditional media are was brought in by the protests in Madrid last summer. “Newspapers were slow in covering. Just like during the Arab spring, social media shaped the protests”, Tascón said. He thinks that journalists should create their own brand e. g. on Twitter (left to right: Tascón, Otte, Kaltenbrunner, García). “But we also expect our journalists to use their online credibility for their company”, Romanus Otte from German publishing house Axel Springer added. Otte criticised that German journalists still want to impress the branches they are covering: “Sports journalists write for the athletes. Political journalists write for the politicians.” Though the time would be ripe to listen to the audience, to users and customers. He advises especially managers to be passionate about innovation and change: “Just do it!”

The Executive Master’s program “International Media Innovation Management” (IMIM) is carried by Berlin University for Professional Studies and fjum_forum for journalism and media in Vienna. Since Sunday, April 22, the group of young working professionals out of TIME industries (telecommunication, IT/Internet, media, creative) has been studying in Elche — Universidad Miguel Hernández, see picture — and Madrid, Spain (workshops at public broadcaster RTVE and daily El País). The participants come from all over Europe and Egypt. During their studies, they learn how to initiate, coordinate and implement innovation projects for their companies in an interdisciplinary and international context. IMIM’s next module will take place in the US, visiting e. g. The New York Times, Columbia and Fordham University and Poynter Institute/Florida.

photos: Félix Arias 
text: Patricia Käfer

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