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Event Roundup: GEN Summit

We’re sharing some of the key takeaways from the Global Editors Network (GEN) Summit so that you can benefit too!

The GEN Summit brings together opinion leaders in the media industry from around the world to discuss the latest trends shaping newsrooms. This year’s event was held June 15-17 in Vienna, Austria.

Here’s what we heard and what you need to know from the GEN Summit 2016:

The Rise of Platform-Driven News

This year’s GEN Summit focused on “The Rise of Platform-Driven News” and its impact on the future of journalism.


L-R: Jan-Eric Peters, Meredith Artley, and panel moderator Tony Emerson. Photo: Luiza Puiu.

Major tech companies have access to large audiences like never before and they hold the finances and crucial algorithms to distribute stories on a global scale. While some might be concerned about this, the keynote panelists at the GEN Summit quickly dismissed any concerns media professionals might have about the impact platforms have on their ability to make independent editorial decisions.

Meredith Artley, Editor-In-Chief at CNN Digital encouraged publishers to experiment and play with platforms, especially with video.

“Publishers have a huge amount of power. Yes, there are these algorithms on Facebook and all the other players. We don’t control them. But we control what stories we do, how we do them and we control where and when we publish them.”

Jan-Eric Peters, Deputy CEO & Editor-in-Chief of Upday, a personalized news app that aggregates content, sees the partnership between publishers and third parties as a necessity rather than an opportunity. He confirms, “I don’t think it’s a question of trust; I think it’s a question of reality.”

He highlights the potential to leverage third party platforms to “reach people you might not have been able to reach before and turn them into loyal customers of your brand.”

Legacy vs. Digital Only Players

While digital pureplay publishers’ ‘fail fast’ approach and desire to try new things is an enormous strength compared to legacy brands’ struggle to react and adapt, it is often difficult to break through because traditional brands are “still seen as [the] source for serious news.”

Jim Roberts, former Chief Content Officer for Mashable, predicts “a shakeout in the world of digital publishers.” He goes on to say, “I don’t think the world will be as populated with as many pureplay digital publications. However, I do think that some have incredible staying power… and we haven’t seen the end of what they can do.”

Explore New Formats

The summit also highlighted a growing focus on new formats including 360 videos to reach new audiences. The Guardian, NYT, and VICE were among some of its early adopters, and there is no doubt more publishers will leverage this type of Virtual Reality (VR).

The rise of podcasts was also a hot topic at this year’s GEN Summit. While they are hardly a new medium, Sarah Van Mosel, Chief Commercial Officer at Acast confirms its popularity is growing because there are more diverse creators who are in turn, attracting new listeners to the medium.

Invest in Technology & Tools

Newsrooms still not investing enough in technology & tools, not doing enough to be tech driven business, says @emilybell #GENsummit

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We hope you enjoyed reading our top takeaways from the event. For the latest in audience development, be sure to subscribe to our blog!