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News Corp - On deadline in a digital world

James Henderson | June 7, 2017
As challenges impact newspaper businesses, News Corp outlines how the channel can help instigate change through digital technologies.

Mark Drasutis - Chief Product Officer for Digital, News Corp (Photo - Maria Stefina)
Mark Drasutis, Chief Product Officer for Digital, News Corp. Credit: Maria Stefina

When walking around News Corp headquarters, the daily toil of reaching over seven million Australians each day, through 111 publications across six major capital cities, is evident.

Cluttered desks, hordes of newspapers piled up in walkways and an air of tense excitement.

But as the flickering of large screen digital displays suggest, this news desk isn't a relic of the past, rather a demonstration of future becoming reality.

As the home of The AustralianThe Daily TelegraphHerald Sun and The Courier-Mail, News Corp is blending traditional newspaper practices with cutting edge innovation strategies, as it expands its reach and influence across the country.

"This interview will end up on multiple media platforms," News Corp chief product officer for digital Mark Drasutis explained. "If somebody decides to sit in their office and read this in a magazine then that's their choice, likewise if they decide to consume it digitally instead.

"Consumers are now in control and have choice - it's about discovery not distribution."

Yet many industry critics believe Australia's newspapers - in following the path of global counterparts - have deliberately, and somewhat conveniently, ignored the story of their own decline, refusing to acknowledge that the internet has poached both readers and advertising dollars in equal measure.

For Drasutis however, a responsibility for setting an innovation agenda at Australia's leading media company creates a responsibility to fuse paper with digital platforms.

"A very interesting view of our business is that newspapers are going to die and that nobody is going to buy them," Drasutis acknowledged. "But that's factually incorrect. It's actually an and, not an or, conversation for consumers.

"We have a large proportion of our customers buying print products every week and during the weekend, but they also like to consume our content on Apple News, or on their Facebook feed or through our apps."

In walking past the The Daily Telegraph newsroom, as the night editors gathered on the floor in deep consultation, Drasutis stopped to illustrate his point.

"Our editorial teams produce great journalism, they have a tummy compass and they know what is going to be a good yarn," he observed. "They then use data to verify that which we provide via our technology platforms.

"But we're not expecting a journalist to understand an API or necessarily how to utilise Periscope on Twitter or Facebook Live. They should just be there as a tool if they feel that it's the right thing to augment the story."

After becoming the first Australian media company to launch on Snapchat's content portal, Discover, two years ago, Drasutis and his team continue to execute a strategy designed to leverage digital technologies to meet ever-changing business objectives.


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