Is the Telegraph's digital revolution the right course?

Does the exodus of senior journalists suggest divided opinions on the news brand's digital drive? By David Benady.

Is the Telegraph's digital revolution the right course?

The Telegraph’s journey from print to digital appears to be accelerating. The exit of the daily’s stalwart editor, Tony Gallagher, last month was the latest in an exodus of senior journalists from the brand.

Some suggest Gallagher et al did not want to be part of the digital transformation planned by the chief content officer and editor-in-chief, Jason Seiken.

The US digital guru joined Telegraph Media Group in October last year with a mission to accelerate the digital revolution.

Seiken said at the time of Gallagher’s exit: "We must reinvent the way that we work and move beyond simply putting news and information online and be an essential part of the audience’s lives."

Some feared that this paved the way for BuzzFeed-style news lists and content such as interactive school league tables.

However, there seemed to be a return to the status quo last week when the Telegraph unveiled a new senior editorial team across print and digital.

Seiken said in a statement: "We cannot be great digitally if we are not great in print." Gallagher’s role has been split between weekday and weekend editors, and some have been given new digital duties.

Perhaps Seiken’s pace of change is too fast for journalists grounded in print. Commercially, TMG is credited with having one of the most innovative and integrated approaches. From coverwraps to iPad apps, a clutch of press awards last year underlined the success of Dave King’s team.

Expanding digital is actually an opportunity for the Telegraph as it seeks to deliver younger audiences to advertisers.

More than half of The Daily Telegraph’s print readers are over 65, while only 6.2 per cent are aged 25 to 34, according to the National Readership Survey (although they are heavily skewed to the ABC1 social group).

Circulation has halved over the past decade to 533,000 as the digital offer grows. The Telegraph website – which is behind a metered paywall that offers the first 20 articles for free – attracted 3.3 million daily browsers in January, up nearly 15 per cent, according to digital ABCs.

Telegraph.co.uk has also extended its microsites, such as Wonder Women, Telegraph Men and the Luxury channel.

YES Emma Cranston, investment director, Manning Gottlieb OMD "We believe the Telegraph is very proactive in how it approaches agencies with cross-media proposals. Its structure also reflects this. The Telegraph is setting itself up to be one news brand in print and digital."

YES Dave Mulrenan, head of press, ZenithOptimedia UK "The Telegraph’s point of difference is it has better relationships with agencies. As a sales team, it has always been one of the stronger ones across print and digital. As agencies move to one buy, it is moving to one sell. 

MAYBE Liam Mullins, head of trading, the7stars "I don’t agree with the Telegraph getting rid of the editor. The biggest strength of a newspaper is having a view, an opinion. It worries me a little that it’s a misguided view about how newspaper brands operate in a digital environment." 

YES Rob Lynam, head of display, MEC "The Telegraph is the most commercially successful of the broadsheets. In general, I expect it to experience a sharper decrease in print revenues and an exponential increase in digital revenues over the next couple of years."

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