The conference on new media sustainability in Macedonia took place on May 11, 2013, attended by about 80 representatives of the media sector, such as reporters and editors, NGO representatives, marketing agencies and international experts. The event was organized by Metamorphosis and financially supported by the U.S. Embassy.
The conference aimed at communicating the experiences of international experts Markus Ickstadt, commercial director at Streamworks Interactive and Toni Gabric, editor-in-chief of H-Alter.org, so that those experiences could be used in the Macedonian context presented by 10 speakers from Macedonian media associations, organizations, agencies and portals.
The event was opened by Bardhyl Jashari from Metamorphosis and LeAnna Marr, USAID’s Education Office Director and Acting Mission Director, both emphasizing the need to encourage a discussion on this topic between the relevant stakeholders, presenting some of the problems in this specific area and stressing the need to strengthen Macedonian media from every aspect, which is also the purpose of other ongoing project initiatives.
Markus Ickstadt presented the main challenges for the media in Macedonia and in accordance with the findings he presented several sustainability models. He presented the soft pay-wall model used by the NY Times enabling readers to access up to 20 free articles without subscribing to the digital system. Washington Post articles accessed via social media and external search engines are not counted toward the free limit of 20 articles.
There are also restrictive billing systems that don’t allow the sharing of articles via social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. Nevertheless, the conclusion is that if pay-walls become the norm, readers will have to make decisions about which publications get their money, and their loyalty.
Mr. Ickstadt also a presented a model for sustainability through aggregating, producing and distributing video content and a model for creating unique content that would attract and engage the audience.
Some of his main recommendations were:
- Creativity instead of restrictiveness in digital payment systems
- Production of unique multimedia content to build brand value
- Work with streaming specialists to add video at manageable cost
- Investigate sponsorship models for content
- Become less dependent on SEO and banner CPMs