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Biggest Challenges News Agencies Face Today: Talking to Jonas Eriksson President of the European Alliance of News Agencies

EANA Members - European Alliance of News Agencies (EANA)
EANA Members - European Alliance of News Agencies (EANA)

Back in the day, news agencies had a straightforward job: to gather and distribute news. The challenges that they faced related to freedom of the press, fair competition and clear rules of operation. Today, as we witness rapid changes in the environment in which the media industry operates that range from the introduction of new technologies to a new regulation such as GDPR, the stakes are higher. With new challenges being added on top of the existing ones, news agencies include changing market strategies and developing new products as a part of their daily work. It does not come as a surprise that this is a focus of this year’s annual meeting of the European Alliance of News Agencies (EANA) association members, taking place in Bucharest, April 25-27th.

The goal of EANA is to secure the business environment in which news agencies operate, promote their fruitful cooperation and provide them with a forum for an exchange of their success stories, know-hows and engage in constructive discussions.

This year Sourcefabric is sponsoring the event and we are looking forward to talking about the collaborative approach to software development in news media, such as developing Superdesk together with AAP. Before heading there, we asked Jonas Eriksson, the President of EANA and Editor-in-Chief and CEO at the Swedish national news agency TT, a few questions about the state of the industry, the role of technology and the future of newsrooms.

In your experience as an insider, what are the biggest problems that news agencies are facing today?

Today, still, most of the problems that news agencies face are related to the migration of our customers and users from paper to digital. This is a difficult task to solve given that we still lack a truly viable business model that holds up. 

Could you think a concrete example from inside a newsroom when technology came to 'save the day' and helped to solve a specific issue?

What first comes to mind is live reporting that creates an atmosphere of being there in the centre of the event that unfolds. Court cases and elections are good examples when live reporting that comes as a mix of news from an agency and customers’ input, gives an end result that was previously impossible.

When you gather representatives of news agencies in one room for a conference like EANA, what do you expect from their collaboration?

It is important that we create an atmosphere in which everyone is open and shares their experiences. Those experiences could be of success or of failure. It is just as important to share failure as success.

How do you see the future of the news agencies particularly regarding technology and its changing role in the news industry?

News agencies play a vital role in securing that news reporting is accurate and trustworthy. The role of media is to report in an unbiased way. New technology only emphasises that. As for the future, our business models can be sustainable over time only if we manage to capitalise on economies of scale.