Jim VandeHei Looks into the Future

Derek SchroederBy Derek Schroeder (@Derek_Schroeder)

Jim VandeHei isn’t all business. He began his speech on Saturday, Oct. 17th at the PRSA general session in Washington D.C. with a shout out to the “Wisconsin contingent” in the crowd and asked for updates on the Packer game.

As he got down to the nitty-gritty, he brought up major changes in media that he has noticed.

The first change is the growing popularity of niche publications, much like his niche online news outlet, POLITICO. Niche publications attract people looking for specific areas of coverage, according to VandeHei. Advertisers can also appreciate “the age of niche” because advertisements can be focused on more specific demographics. Niche papers allow advertisers to be more adaptive to their publics much like how new media must be.

The other change he mentioned was the need to be agile and adaptive. With publics constantly changing habits, one must be ready for the next big platform. In POLITICO’s view that would be the new iPad application they are preparing.

VandeHei elaborated on the future of news media and whether people are ever going to pay for news. The real question is how much will people pay for news? He also mentioned the possibility of news outlets charging for more in-depth or more advanced news in the future, including POLITICO.

Lastly, he was addressed with the question of how to make a successful media website. It is all in the gratification of user experience, VandeHei said. The need to simplify and decrease clutter on a webpage will allow users to navigate with ease. One way to decrease clutter is to pick two or three things that you can do well that nobody else can do or at all and focus on them. The final tip he gave on making a successful site is to focus on continuous readers and keeping them happy.

Some members of the UW Oshkosh PRSSA Chapter was able to speak with him after his speech. He shared with us that the youth of today has lost their ability to focus. So the next time you are around a professional, make sure to focus on eye contact for more than five seconds. Also, VandeHei said, “Read everything.”


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