More details about the New Welsh Media project

From @Berria Tiwtter Feed 29/12/18

Today Berria.eus an independent Basque language media platform carried an interview relating to the project, the article can be found here, below are the original questions and answers, which provides some more detail about the project. Remember you can donate to the project here.

1. You talk about “media service”, but what kind of media do you have in mind (television, press, Internet)?

We’ll be looking at all options. What is clear today is that different audiences and demographics consume news and information in different ways and in different formats. Older audiences still enjoy print younger audiences are becoming more reliant on news in short form, video or under 240 characters of text. Video will be key, but I also see audio and podcasting playing their part.

2. The Daily Mail, The Sun, BBC and Sky are the dominating media in Wales. What effect does that have in the information that the Welsh public receives?

The dominance of London based media in Wales is a huge issue and one of the prime motivators for developing the project. We are served a picture of life through a British lens, politics is a binary choice between Conservative and Labour, the NHS, education and economy are discussed as UK issues where in fact they are all devolved in England, Scotland and Wales. Our national media is fractured, in both English and Welsh, it serves to divide our nation not unite, it will be a challenge for us to create a service that serves the whole of Wales and makes its readership and consumers feel part of one country one that has confidence in our output.

3. How these media treat devolved matters seems to be of concern to you; why?

We want to help people to understand the important issues that affect their lives here in Wales. How does devolution work? How has European funding impacted on their communities. People in Wales are making big decisions on their futures based on information that may not be actually relevant here. The NHS makes up half of what the Welsh Government spends, yet it’s surprising how few realise that the Health service is devolved and run from Cardiff, people vote in general elections unaware of what they are in fact voting for. To a certain extent we are fortunate that we are starting from such a low base. It’s made our case for creating a service easier, but it’s also made clear the huge task that lays before us.

4. You were head of digital at S4C. Why do you think S4C cannot fulfil the task to provide a Welsh perspective?

It’s important to understand how the media landscape in Wales currently stands. The BBC is the dominant force as far as video, audio and digital news distribution goes in Welsh and English, but it is the BRITISH Broadcasting Corporation, it views the world from a primarily British perspective, although the Welsh language side differs slightly and is more Wales leaning. The news media in Wales lacks a confidence that exists in say, Scotland, Catalonia and the Basque country. The BBC provides S4C with its news output as part of a historic deal between the two broadcasters. As S4C gains more independence and a wider remit following an independent review on behalf of the DCMS in Westminster I would like to think there is scope for collaboration in future, particularly digitally. A new media service will need to work collaboratively to succeed, not just collaboration within Wales but across the media scene developing globally. Scotland and the Basque country are both at the top of my list when looking at future business models.

5. Will the service be in English or Welsh ?

It will be bilingual, but it won’t all be a literal translation, the content will differ dependant on the audience.

6. With your crowdfunding campaign you will develop a business plan, but what kind of business model will you propose to study?

The main purpose for the initial funding is to enable time to be dedicated in order to research the current commercial landscape and look at different models, print is struggling yet it is currently potentially more attractive to advertisers. Publishers are reaching more and more people via digital, web and social media, but it’s an area of challenges commercially. We need to look at hyper-local advertising platforms that can benefit us commercially but also businesses and organisations who need to reach audiences. There is no official Welsh photo agency, so we are talking to the photographic and video community to see how this can be developed commercially. At the end of the day it has to make money, not huge amounts, but enough to reinvest in to development and growth of the service.

7. You come from the digital media world. Which model you see worth following in that world?

It will have to be primarily digital, but it can’t be a static website that serves opinion from a single perspective. We need to use technology, AI and data intelligently. Money needs to be spent on people and their time, researching, verifying and creating content for the relevant platforms. I still see a place for print, how and where? We’ll see what the research says.

8. What is your timetable?

As the primary funding is in place the work starts now. I’m currently up in Wrecsam looking at how local news services operate and talking to past and present journalists about how they see a future pan Wales media service working. Collecting data on the potential audiences is also a top priority. This information will form a huge part of any future business planning and provide assurances to potential investors.

The second part of funding will enable the organisation of a 1 day un-conference, hopefully during March, where findings from the research period and the business plans and models can be interrogated and refined. Wherever the final location attendees will be able to access it digitally. It would be great to have a pilot phase up and running by early summer 2019. The more money we raise and how fast we raise it will accelerate things.

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