Words and photos by Maulde Cuérel, Junior Communications Manager at swissnex Boston
The rise of new technologies has drastically changed the way people consume and receive media and information. As a result, the communications and media industries have faced radical change in their methods and operations. Enter the Eurovision Academy. Its mission is to provide cutting edge professional training for journalists and media professionals, so they can stay ahead of the curve.
Last week the Academy, in collaboration with swissnex Boston’s New York Outpost, brought 21 such professionals to New York for executive training workshops with top-level media companies. It was the last stop on a three-part international trip for this group of journalists. Eurovision Academy collaborated with some of the world’s top business schools: UCLA Anderson in Los Angeles and IESE in Barcelona.
But no city is more appropriate than New York to study the evolving field of media communications. New York has long been home to an incredible concentration of major newspapers, magazines, tabloids, publishing houses, television studios, and broadcast networks-- and more recently of online media companies such as AOL, which owns The Huffington Post, and BuzzFeed. For Eurovision Academy participants, there was much to learn and observe.
The first stop was Bloomberg L.P., a major global provider of 24-hour financial news located in midtown. Their offices, spread over nearly one million square feet of offices in a 55-floor tower in midtown Manhattan boast views of the city that rival the best out there. We were received by Josh Rucci, General Manager and Global Head of the Bloomberg Content Service and Paul Sweeney, US Director of Research and Senior Media Analyst, Bloomberg Intelligence. Together we sat down to a lunch presentation and discussion, followed by a tour.
The focal point of the presentation was B.I. (“Bloomberg Intelligence”), an exhaustive database developed internally, with the ambitious mission to “take data that sits on the Bloomberg terminal and turn it into ideas, themes and stories.” The valuable information provided by B.I. will help Bloomberg employees and clients make decisions about the structure and management of their portfolio risk.
Deciphering stories out of big data speaks to a growing movement in business today. More and more companies are now data-driven, and thinking strategically about how to collect more of it—because the more data they collect, the more they can potentially understand about trends, customers, and behaviors— but to do this they also need tools robust enough to analyze this data. B.I. is exactly this sort of tool for Bloomberg. It has cracked the analysis nut, so to speak.
During the presentation, the executives referred to Bloomberg as a “data company,” suggesting they are conscious that they’ve moved beyond the definition of a typical media company: they are in new territory and they are fully aware of the power of all the information they collect, analyze, and disseminate every second of the day.
After this fascinating presentation, we continued on to The Huffington Post, located in downtown Manhattan where our hosts, Graham Nelson, Director of Creative Development, and Jayme Lynes, Content Strategy Director, welcomed us to their Headquarters.
The Huffington Post has completely embraced the co-working movement. The space was open, but also cozy. It had the feeling of a work-at-home environment. While walking through their offices I felt I was somewhere in between an office and a showroom at an IKEA store. The décor and layout were impeccable and beautiful; everything was carefully curated to support collaboration—just as the architecture of the building itself supported interaction between the employees from the different departments.
We soon settled into a conference room for a presentation given by our hosts. We got straight to the point discussing the major challenges faced by the media and communication industry today, all of which are directly linked to new technology. Topics included the overwhelming shift to a mobile audience, the monopoly of distribution by certain social networks, and the rise of upstarts like BuzzFeed or Vox Media. This chapter of the presentation ended with a discussion centered around new technology’s effect on traditional revenue streams for media and information sites.
One of the key points of the presentation was the controversy surrounding sponsored content. This sensitive topic is something that challenges more and more journalists every day. Our speaker, Sara Wald, who is Director of Women's Lifestyle Content, provided us an in-depth presentation on what sponsored content really is. She discussed the clear distinctions between a curated, created, and collaborative article, and gave an overview of the code of ethics that’s emerged surrounding this relatively new method of journalism.
The two visits provided a fascinating array of the directions in which technology is affecting the media landscape: toward an exponential increase in data and a transformation of ways to monetize information. They also provided a sobering reminder that change is a constant in this industry: neither Bloomberg nor The Huffington Post existed a few decades ago, and today they dominate their respective media niches – and are encroaching upon those of more tradition news and media outlets.
Thanks to Bloomberg L.P and The Huffington Post for their warm welcome and generosity. And thanks also to the Eurovision Academy, for making these visits possible.