On the Way to Full Con­tent Au­ton­omy

ArabAd - - CONTENTS -

Do you be­lieve the say­ing “Print Is

Dead” to be an ac­tual fact con­sid­er­ing you opted for a dig­i­tal ver­sion and would you con­sider a print edi­tion to com­ple­ment your web­site?

PRINT IS NOT DEAD at all! What we are fac­ing to­day is the death of cre­ativ­ity and imag­i­na­tion in the print in­dus­try. In other words, what died is the old con­cept due to the emer­gence of the In­ter­net. How­ever, I still be­lieve that printed me­dia has a role to play, and with a lit­tle bit of cre­ativ­ity, man­age­ment could eas­ily cre­ate a new mar­ket to ac­com­mo­date a spe­cific need call­ing for well-crafted ar­ti­cles. Un­for­tu­nately, such con­tent will work bet­ter in print form rather than dig­i­tal. For that very rea­son, I would con­sider pub­lish­ing a weekly printed ver­sion of Lebanon De­bate since I then can tar­get a niche au­di­ence look­ing for an­a­lyt­i­cal ar­ti­cles writ­ten from dif­fer­ent points of view.

What dis­tin­guishes your news site from sim­i­lar sites and do you ag­gre­gate news or do you have a full ed­i­to­rial team cre­at­ing orig­i­nal con­tent?

Lebanon De­bate is the only po­lit­i­cal news site in Lebanon that is not af­fil­i­ated with any po­lit­i­cal party or po­lit­i­cal fig­ure be it di­rectly or oth­er­wise. This con­sti­tutes a tremen­dous ad­van­tage, which we have been work­ing hard on main­tain­ing. The reader is over­whelmed by thou­sands of sto­ries from dif­fer­ent sources, which de­feats the orig­i­nal pur­pose of stay­ing in the know. To coun­ter­act that ef­fect, Lebanon De­bate of­fers its read­ers con­tent spe­cific to their in­ter­ests. Fur­ther­more, two years from now, we no longer will ag­gre­gate news sto­ries, be­cause by then, we would have a full ed­i­to­rial team ca­pa­ble of pro­duc­ing all the re­quired con­tent in-house.

Some be­lieve that once you have the au­di­ence then advertising will fol­low, yet un­like publishers, ad­ver­tis­ers have been slow in mov­ing online. How are you cap­i­tal­is­ing on your online au­di­ence and what are the advertising for­mats that are pay­ing off the most?

It is true that you have to build the au­di­ence to get advertising. How­ever, the online news in­dus­try is fac­ing a big a chal­lenge be­cause around 60 per­cent of the mar­ket share is go­ing to Face­book and Google. As a re­sult, we will have to wait for an­other cou­ple of years for the online in­dus­try to take a shape be­fore we can build an ef­fec­tive rev­enue strat­egy. Ad­ver­tis­ers are con­stantly look­ing to post ads of their brands on web­sites that pro­vide orig­i­nal con­tent. To achieve this faster, these very same web­sites will need to de­velop video con­tent to at­tract ad­ver­tis­ers look­ing for a rich me­dia plat­form.

What we are fac­ing to­day is the death of cre­ativ­ity and imag­i­na­tion in the print in­dus­try.

Has the mush­room­ing of news sites killed the jour­nal­ism pro­fes­sion, es­pe­cially since most of them have no in­ter­est in cre­at­ing con­tent, rather re­cy­cle other peo­ple’s work?

When­ever any in­dus­try starts to mush­room, the com­pe­ti­tion in the mar­ket will drive out the un­qual­i­fied com­peti­tors. I also be­lieve that we are at the very end of this "mush­room­ing" phase since run­ning a web­site is be­com­ing de­mand­ing in terms of in­vest­ment and time. In ad­di­tion, and at the end of the day, users will opt for web­sites that of­fer more orig­i­nal con­tent. Keep in mind that the online news in­dus­try is still in its in­fancy, which is why it would be un­fair to judge just yet. How­ever, to gain an ad­van­tage, we de­cided to cre­ate all of our con­tent and have there­fore been in­vest­ing in this mat­ter. Af­ter all, the main role of a news por­tal is to cre­ate pub­lic opin­ion, not fo­cus on the num­ber of vis­i­tors to the site.

Michel Kan­bour, Founder and Gen­eral Man­ager of Le­banon­de­bate.com talks to Arabad about his view of the on/off line dis­sem­i­na­tion of news and the ad­van­tages as well as dis­ad­van­tages both of­fer.

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