Running sustainable digital media brands

By Utami Diah Kusumawati

Raju Narisetti, CEO of Gizmodo Media Group, shared his insights about how to lead, and become financially sustainable, in the competitive digital news industry.

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He said one strategy is for news outlets to collaborate with telecommunications companies, such as Verizon or AT&T, to get more people to pay for journalism products.  

“I can actually see a scenario where I am a Verizon subscriber. I have internet and all of that at home. If I get a note from Verizon in my monthly bill saying, ‘Hey for a dollar or more in your bill, here all these amazing brands plus some exclusive things would you want it?’ I would say yes,” he said. 

This new payment ecosystem, he added, would lift some of the burden on media companies in their struggle for subscriptions. But he said that media companies would need to think about subscription fees if they want to expand or reach international audiences. He gave an example of how a few dollars added on a digital subscription fee would be quite expensive for people living in other countries. 

Narisetti also believes that journalists should think more about how to bring their stories to more readers.

“Our industry often fails and struggles at what I called an intersection,” he said, adding that he wished news organizations would adapt more to allow the intersection of the newsroom and business side to thrive and encourage sustainable journalism. 

Next, he pointed out that to be sustainable and to win the attention of readers in the digital world, media companies should not forget to keep the core values of journalism in order to produce meaningful storytelling. 

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“If you have enduring journalism and if you have strong storytelling, then your brand will be on the top of mind. That is how you can continue on winning this battle,” he said. 

During the session, Narisetti advised young journalists not to focus solely on technological tools, but also to grow their curiosity in creating stories.

“Tools and all of that are great if you know how to do them, but if you don’t have the essential curiosity about looking into something and saying,' I wonder why this is the way it is and translates it into a story, video, or podcast, then it is nothing,” he said. 

Prior to his job at the Gizmodo Media Group, Narisetti worked as the Senior Vice President of Strategy at News Corp, was Managing Editor of the Wall Street Journal Digital Network, and was Managing Editor of the Washington Post. 

Gizmodo Media Group is a part of Univision Communications. Its readership is primarily young Americans in their 20s and 30s.