Media ‘Moguls’ share insights about today’s news industry

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Four media executives outlined the various opportunities and challenges of today’s fast-paced, ever-changing media landscape at a Greater Baltimore Committee-sponsored event this week.

“I know many of you are dying to get home at 5 o’clock tonight to watch the 5 o’clock news,” said Dan Joerres, president and general manager of WBAL-TV, whose comment was met with laughter from the audience. “There is my problem – nobody watches the 5 o’clock news.”

Joerres, a GBC board member, Trif Alatzas, senior vice president and executive editor of The Baltimore Sun Media Group, John Dinkel, president and publisher of the Baltimore Business Journal, and Suzanne Fischer-Huettner, publisher of The Daily Record, discussed their respective media outlets and news industry trends at the GBC’s fifth ‘Meet the Moguls’ speaker series event on September 15.

“Our business is changing,” Joerres said, “and I think from a media consumption standpoint, as I currently sit here, morning news is the most important thing that WBAL-TV focuses on. We’ve expanded that morning news team. We have also expanded our digital offerings.”

“Our challenges are your time and finding you where you are when you want information rather than you having to find us,” Joerres said.

Like television news, newspapers are also working to identify how their audience consumes media.

“The challenge for us has been where does the print product fit in and where does the digital (product) fit,” Dinkel said. “The challenge is finding where you’re getting your news and always trying to innovate.”

Dinkel acknowledged that social media has proved a challenge to the industry, but it has also provided opportunity.

“We get about 22 percent of our paid views now through Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter,” he said, referring to the number of people who saw a post because of ads. “It’s finding how do we leverage this new audience and new way of distributing news and leveraging revenue out of it.”

The Baltimore Sun Media Group is also committed to distributing news across all platforms, which includes print and digital, Alatzas said.

“During the week it’s all about the (mobile) phone,” he said. “Things have changed so much, even in the past two years.”

Those changes include a shift from reading news and emails on laptops to phones and tablets.

“Everything’s on the phone or the tablet,” Alatzas said. “We continue to evolve, we continue to deal with all of the competition.”

At The Daily Record, Fischer-Huettner said that because businesses typically foot the bill for subscriptions, rather than individuals, her print product has remained strong.

“For us the challenge is how do we bring in that younger audience,” she said. “The audience that goes on to Twitter. As those 20-somethings become CEO level down the road, are they going to be committed to a brand and that’s what we are continuously trying to figure out the answer to.”

The ‘moguls’ also discussed future industry trends, how technology has changed newsrooms and the way reporters do their jobs, the impact of social media and the way younger generations read their news and its impact on advertizing revenue.

“The best thing about ‘Meet the Moguls,’” said Donald C. Fry, president and CEO of the Greater Baltimore Committee, “is that it gives us an opportunity to gather insight into people who are on the ground, doing the work and have a different perspective on things that none of us would ever think about.”

The ‘Meet the Moguls’ series includes networking, discussion, Q&A and how the GBC can focus on nurturing industry growth.

Moderated by GBC President and CEO Donald C. Fry, each ‘Meet the Moguls’ event highlights different industry groups and aims to highlight job creation and investment that various industry sectors bring to the region, industry trends in the next 12 to 18 months and issues or concerns the ‘moguls’ are experiencing or foresee in the future.

An October ‘Meet the Moguls’ event will focus on health care and wellness. Additional information will be announced soon.

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