Keynote speaker Anette Novak: “Quality journalism is a scarcity, should be monetized”

As fake news and propaganda continues to circulate online the need for independent news is increasing.
– And what is needed should be able generate income, says Swedish media strategist Anette Novak, keynote speaker at EACA 2017.

Anette Novak is the vice president of Fojo Media Institute Board of Directors and CEO of Rise Interactive, an experimental ICT and design research institute. She also served as media commissioner for the Swedish Government and led a national investigation that aimed at designing a new media policy.

She is on the list of key note speakers at East African Communication Association annual conference (EACA2017). She talked to the Kaminuza Star’s Festus Ndungutse about what she thinks on media industry in regard with the theme of EACA2017.

Media industry globally is facing many challenges. What are the main issues would you say?

– The eroding relevance in the eyes of the users, partly due to internal lack of understanding of the paradigm shift and lack of competence within innovation management and digital product development.

Also the unfair competition from the digital giants, the global technology platforms, operating under other conditions: their development is faster than the legislator’s adaptation of competition laws, taxation legislation and so on. The extraction of value from the massive data they are gathering is constantly increasing their lead, in comparison to national, regional and local stakeholders.

Is it only dark clouds on the horizon then?

– Not at all, I generally have a very positive vision of the future. Digitalization means for instance that we will be able to move beyond the limitations of language. Automation and artificial intelligence means that we will be able to create individualized, interactive solutions without driving unreasonable staff costs.

So a ray of hope! Would you say you are optimistic or pessimistic about the future of journalism?

– A bit of both. Pessimistic, in the sense that no one has found a sustainable business model, with enough revenues to carry the costs of quality journalism. Optimistic in the sense that there will always be a need for it. The current state-of-the-world with rampant rumors, propaganda and disinformation reveals the need of verified and independent information. Quality journalism is scarcity, and scarcity is always the most attractive and what you should be able to monetize.

How do you work to create more stability within media?

– I have personally left the operative roles within the media industry. But I am still very involved and engaged from my different strategic positions. As vice president of Fojo International, I am involved in our capacity building work, in order to strengthen our partner’s competence development. But I have also assisted the Swedish government with a national inquiry on our nation’s future media policy. Hopefully, this work will be translated into a modernized direct support, assisting the Swedish media outlets through the transformation phase.

What do you think the EACA conference can contribute with generally and the uniqueness of EACA2017?

– I believe the industry challenge approach is attractive. In order to support the industry transition, researchers and practitioners need to find arenas of dialogue and build not only mutual respect for our different perspectives and competences, but also to create collaborative models.