Published on
September 16, 2020
Author
Giuliana Dusi
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Neutral Content, a new way of publishing

Published on
2020-09-16 00:00:00
Author
Giuliana Dusi

Digital First or Paper first: why choose?

This content was produced in collaboration with the Digital Content Observatory of the Politecnico di Milano. GMDE is a sponsor of the Observatory.

With the advent of the Covid19 pandemic, the world of book publishing in Italy and the world has suffered from the beginning an important drop in sales. Due also to the closure of stores, such as bookshops and large retailers, in April 2020 the AIE (Italian Association of Publishers) recorded a -20 % of turnover (cumulative loss) for the Italian publishing world, with over eight million copies sold in less, Compared to 2019, in the areas of non-fiction and fiction, usually most loved. With the reopening after the lockdown, the market seems to be recovering slightly: from -20%, AIE claims to have passed to -11% in July 2020, compared to the previous year, estimating the book market (libraries, digital stores, large retailers) of the 533 million euros of turnover 2020 cumulated.
 

The digital transformation of publishing

The Coronavirus has certainly also changed the editorial world related to newspapers and periodicals, and in general to information & news: according to what emerges from the Digital News Report 2020 of Reuters Institute, Covid19 has led to an increase in the use of online news, giving priority to local information and via social media. In particular, in Italy, the social network most used to retrieve information is Facebook (56%), followed by Whatsapp (29%) and Youtube (24%); the device used mainly to inquire is now the smartphone, as stated by 63% of the sample of respondents of the Research.
In general, what emerges from this unique period of lockdown and post-quarantine is that the pandemic has certainly triggered a significant increase in online news consumption, forcing publishers to accelerate, Whether they like it or not, their digital transformation process, integrating the traditional paper channel with the digital one.
 

Towards the "neutral content"

By increasingly shifting the editorial proposal towards digital channels, publishers are therefore forced, when they want to publish content, to deal not only with a written text (as can be an article) but with all the digital materials that enrich the text itself, materials such as images, videos, podcasts or posts published on social media. An image or a video can certainly complete an article, but they can also replace it by becoming the content to be published, depending on the channels through which the publisher decides to spread the topic, whether digital or printed.
For this reason, the publisher must collect and organize all the material related to content: texts, images, videos, podcasts, related posts on different social media.
Depending on the channel on which the publisher subsequently decides to publish the content, may later select, among the various materials collected, the most suitable. We are therefore faced with a "neutral content", that is to say, a content whose final destination has not already been defined before and which, therefore, will be much easier to adapt to the publication channel.
 

The advantages of neutral content

But what are the advantages of using an editorial system that is based on neutral content?
Surely thinking according to neutral content allows the publisher to enrich their offer, enhancing the content he wants to publish: all the material that is collected in the course of research on that topic can be used, from images to videos, to posts on Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok, just to name a few.
In this way also the experience of the readers changes completely: readers can, in fact, interact more, providing new images, new texts, also participating in the enrichment of the content itself, which then becomes dynamic. The content also, conceived as neutral, allows the publisher to customize it according to the target audience of readers to whom it is addressed, to publish it on different titles, to be able to reuse it and thus increase its visibility.
 

How to manage neutral content

Before approaching an editorial system based on neutral content, it is important to focus on some points of attention. For example, an economic-financial assessment of the change in its entirety is needed. In fact, the purchase of digital technologies for the production of content and for their archiving should be envisaged, which comply with all the copyright laws and training in the new skills of all the people involved. More and more often, then, publishers add to an editorial system the related DAM (Digital Asset Management), ie an intelligent archive that allows a faster and easier organization of all digital resources such as images, video, audio.
Because of the multiplicity of content to be managed and stored, publishers must necessarily use new digital technologies to be increasingly efficient and multichannel. Only in this way, in fact, can the publisher communicate quickly with the author and speed up the process of feedback and acceptance of the content, and its publication. Thanks to the use of digital, the publisher can also verify the consistency between the contents offered to the reader on printed paper and those present online, maintaining control over the various publication channels.
In a context as uncertain as to the one in which we live today, where social distancing and lockdown are tremendously current phenomena, digital technologies can be an effective and useful tool to transform the entire sector. The approach to a publishing system based on neutral content, combined with the potential of the DAM, thus allows newsrooms to convert from physical to fully virtual, ensuring business continuity and full governance and control of content and distribution channels.










 
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