Digital Innovation Digital Publishing
2 mins read

“The real plus side of this has been the reach of building new audiences”: WSJ Editor on virtual events as a live magazine

This week, we hear from The Wall Street Journal’s Editor of Live Journalism and Special Content Kim Last. She talks about the role of live journalism at the publication, how they adapted when the pandemic hit, and what they are doing to bring events and networking to life virtually as their Future of Everything Festival approaches.

In the news round-up, we discuss Dollar Shave Club pulling its funding from Mel Magazine, ask if Substack Local can solve the issue of news deserts, and test Peter’s knowledge of monthly newspaper subscription prices as Reuters goes behind a paywall. See you on Wednesday for the Publisher Podcast Awards ’21!

Here are some highlights:

The role of live journalism

When people are like, ‘What is live journalism?’ It’s really another edition of The Wall Street Journal in the same way that there’s a print edition, there’s a digital edition, there’s video, there’s audio, there’s social media. And there’s also this exciting new, growing live component.

I like to think of us as a start-up inside a well-established, well-oiled machine, which is the Journal newsroom.

Events as a live magazine

The big thing we look for is, we source for newsmakers, we source for story ideas. We think of our sessions and our events as almost like a live magazine, if you will, or a live edition of the Journal print paper.

We investigate ideas, we talk to interesting leaders across business and media and technology. And we look to have them say things that are really interesting that we then want to disseminate to our audience.

How the pandemic changed live journalism

The measurement of success was butts in seats, and just making sure that room had the buzz and the energy. Like you want it to be, to quote Hamilton here, ‘In the room where it happened.’ And all of that, obviously was turned upside down, once the pandemic hit.

We had to quickly and swiftly put a pause on everything that we did, and go, ‘Okay. What does it mean to be virtual? Do people actually want to tune in and watch webinars? What can we do to go beyond the webinar and look and feel?’

The future of events

I think we are headed towards a future of hybrid events. If I were to take out my crystal ball, I think the real plus side of this has been the reach of building new audiences through our virtual programmes.

And the reach of convening a newsmaker – or newsmakers plural – who we would have a tough time getting them to commit a whole day to us getting them to fly in a plane, to show up at this particular time and this particular moment.

So there’s a real value to sort of that virtual flexibility.