Daily newspapers: How are they changing in the digital transformation?

A good printed daily newspaper confronts its readers with a deliberate and carefully compiled range of information. Those who engage with it encounter surprising perspectives, new subject areas, previously unknown debates. Behind the newspaper are publishers and an editorial team. They present what is currently important to know and discuss. In principle, news could work the same way in the digital world: Where algorithms and personalised news feeds do not compile the articles, digital versions of “newspapers” – such as ePapers or online portals – also deliver largely curated or researched information, analyses and commentaries. However, there is a difference: The printed newspaper makes it easy to delve into articles and interviews in a concentrated way – due to its style and handling. Digital news, however, quickly competes with other information for the attention of the person in front of the screen. And: Digital content often seems to be “free” – we “only” pay with the data we generate clicking and reading. Not all people therefore see the point of paying for digital newspaper content – for example, in the form of a subscription or for individual articles. But free content on the net devalues journalistic work.

Newspaper houses are feeling the pressure of growing competition with other media. They have to become creative in order to survive in the battle for attention and interest – measured in clicks and likes. And at the latest when users no longer visit specific offers of newspapers and media houses, but only come across individual contributions in news feeds or posts, serious topic setting and journalistic standards have to be brought together with economic considerations that demand to maximise the reach. Here, one sometimes walks a fine line.

Carsten Knop is co-editor of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and responsible for the renowned paper’s digital offerings. As a journalist, he has been commenting on developments in the field of digital technologies and transformations for years and also takes an international perspective. In this episode of Digitalgespräch the expert uses the example of the FAZ to describe the relationship between newspapers and digitalisation. He explains how newspaper editorial offices react to challenges of the digital information and entertainment market, what new formats and ways of working are emerging and how serious journalism can use opportunities of new digital technologies sensibly. With hosts Marlene Görger and Petra Gehring, Knop discusses what relevance digitalisation topics (should) have in reporting, how the exchange between journalists and readers has changed and what role daily newspapers have in the struggle for democratic shaping of digitality.

Episode 37 of Digitalgespräch, feat. Carsten Knop of Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 6 June 2023
Further informationen:

Link to the paper “Befunde aus dem Reuters Institute Digital News Survey 2021: Aktuelle Entwicklungen bei der Nachrichtennutzung in Deutschland“ of the Leibniz-Institut für Medienforschung | Hans-Bredow-Institut:

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The podcast is in German. At the moment there is no English version or transcript available.