Next great media shift will be towards instant messaging, Post CEO tells forum

Gary Liu notes that the web and mobile applications are losing ground in the brave new media world

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 29 April, 2017, 6:37pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 30 April, 2017, 9:23am

Forget the web and mobile applications. News publishers should be shifting towards instant messaging, according to South China Morning Post CEO Gary Liu.

Speaking at a journalism conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Central, Liu said while the news industry had been dominated for the past decade by the web and mobile applications, their influence was now waning.

“The homepage for us, as news organisations, has certainly died,” he said, adding a recent study by an analytics company found more than 50 per cent of about 600 top publishers it worked with derived less than 10 per cent of their article traffic from their homepage.

He said most major mobile applications were now not being used as much as in the past.

So where are people now going? Messenger services, Liu said, adding that such apps had surpassed social networking sites for monthly active users in 2015, according to a report by research company BI Intelligence.

“In aggregate, there are about 3 billion accounts on messaging around the world at this point,” he said.

With China already using messaging services like WeChat, Liu thought it

would become a primary, if not the primary, distribution, discovery and consumption channel for the media.

It is no longer a world where our product or output as a news organisation is just the best, most accurate narrative on what’s going on in the world
Gary Liu, Post CEO

He pointed to the massive uptake in the United States of media links being shared across WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, which he said had yet to build a feature to make news discovery easy.

Liu suggested that the moment the two US messaging giants built such a feature, the news industry would shift from mobile to instant messaging.

He also talked about the importance of expressing news in different ways while addressing different groups of people.

“It is no longer a world where our product or output as a news organisation is just the best, most accurate narrative on what’s going on in the world,” Liu said.

He explained that while news organisations should still care about independence and integrity, the content had to come with the right packaging.

This could be done by presenting the same story in different formats, such as written articles, short videos or live streaming, Liu said.

He also highlighted the importance of presentation with regard to the recent debate about fake news.

The Post CEO noted that many news organisations were guilty of producing opinion pieces without labelling them as such, which could be confusing for readers.