October 25, 2016
Irene Toporkoff [Media Demain/ Youtube]
Irene Toporkoff is the co-founder of a Paris venture providing ‘translated journalism’, adapting articles into English from top national media. She talked with EurActiv Founder Christophe Leclercq, as part of the #Media4EU editorial series, about various approaches to syndication, market trends and hurdles that the EU could help overcome.
Irene Toporkoff, you are the co-founder of Worldcrunch. Before talking about the whole market for syndication, co-productions and other types of cooperation, why don’t you summarize your own model in terms of content and business?
Worldcrunch is a website and an app that translate the best of the non-Anglophone press. We have partnerships with more than 30 national newspapers from all around the world, in Europe and outside.
This is one of the ways for national media to get interesting content from other countries and media organisations. There are other ways: the classical one is from press agencies, then there are free exchange-networks like LENA, specialised networks like the Climate Publishers Network (CPN), co-productions and even joint investigations. How do you see the volume of these different cooperation trends evolve?
As you said, there are more and more initiatives, which shows that this is a growing market. I think this is good news for everyone. These initiatives be carried out as we do through translation but also through co-productions and exchange of news. I think there is a tendency of the general and specialised public in wanting to read and see more of what’s done in other countries.
Your model can be described in a simplified way as ‘translated journalism’. It competes indirectly with two traditional models: one is to have own correspondents and the other one is agencies. How do you see this competition?
It is curious: there is more and more interest for international news, but less budget for foreign correspondents. So the way Worldcrunch approaches this issue is to translate stories that have been written locally, which is both an interesting and cost-efficient solution.
In terms of accepting your services or other types of exchanges, what are the main hurdles in your view?
It depends, if the second ‘B’ in ‘B2B’ is the media, then the main problem is always budget. Media organisations concentrate on their core activities, so it is not always easy for them invest more into acquiring other perspectives.
And this is despite you providing a cost reduction compared to the own production by the media?
Yes, absolutely. But here is the upside: In a way we have also a new market, in which everybody becomes a publisher, from big institutions to brands to other organisations. This means that the size of the market itself is growing. The ecosystem of the media is also growing thanks to ‘pure players’, but of course the budget remains key to everybody.
In terms of potential volume, if one takes 100 articles published by a good-quality national media, what are the potential percentages for European news -whether news about another country or EU-policy content- and what percentage for international and global news?
I think that 60% of the news still remains domestic and 40% could be international in the broad sense. From that 40% I would say 15% would be mostly about Europe and 25% would cover international topics outside Europe. I would also add that the more premium the news outlet, the more the proportion of their coverage is dedicated to international and especially European content.
You have mentioned already one hurdle: the budget. Other interviewees have referred to three other hurdles, which are: firstly, the mindset, the openness from content from the outside; secondly, technology and notably the efficiency of processes like CMS and thirdly, obviously, translations. What are the respective weights of these hurdles in your opinion?
I think the mindset is hopefully changing pretty quickly, because we are living in a globalized world where everybody is more open.
The technological hurdle may be a problem, although we don’t experience it at Worldcrunch because our main concern is content and the technology linked to it. We don’t see CMS as a big hurdle but maybe it would decrease our costs, which would help having more fluid exchanges.
When it comes to translation, Worldcrunch is still doing it the good old way. That is really the way we are positioned, namely on premium, purely human-based translations. That being said, I know that some of our translators and journalists use automatized tools to go quicker. That will grow in the future, of course, but today, especially for complex matters, automatized translation does not work.
There is talk about having more EU projects in these areas, in addition to private sector initiatives. Do you think that EU projects could help tackle any of these four hurdles?
Yes, of course, I think that the media sector is key, also in terms of spreading ideas and initiatives. That is why I believe it should be supported even more than they do today, for example in the form of projects about common technologies to reduce the costs of corporations or of tools to facilitate partnerships.
Such projects typically lead to open-source-type of solutions, meaning sharing technologies, platforms skills etc. This implies that different suppliers will have less of a proprietary edge. Would that be OK for you?
Especially because the core idea of Worldcrunch is based on cooperation and because we have a very open way of producing, exchanging and distributing content, an open-source system would be a very good option.
You know about our #Media4EU project and the editorial series that goes with it. Any other recommendations?
No, I think that you are doing it very well. I think it is a great idea to interview major as well as new and innovative players to combine messages and come up with recommendations. Of course, as a relatively new player based on international cooperation and translation we think that the more ideas and media content circulate from one country to the other, the better.
This interview is part of the #Media4EU editorial series. Read more: – project outline – steering committee – guidance post. You can also engage in the process on social media by using the #Media4EU and tweeting @FondEurActiv and @LeclercqEU.