Navigating the digital shift: Lessons from FOMT 2023

Tech disruption is a hot topic across almost every industry, but what threats and opportunities does it pose for publishers? We found out at this year’s Future of Media Technology Conference.


Billed as a one-day masterclass for UK media leaders, the London-based event brought together hundreds of delegates this month to hear from thought leaders and industry experts on how to thrive in a digital era. With a vested interest in online publishing, our team attended for the second year in a row to gain valuable insights from the packed schedule of panels, presentations and keynote speeches, helping us to shape our services in line with real-world challenges and strategic priorities.

Digital success stories

Organised by Press Gazette, the leading source of journalism industry news, the conference agenda centred around newsroom efficiencies, trends and future predictions in the media industry. It also shared success stories from across the sector, including a refreshing keynote from Ella Dolphin, Chief Brand Officer of DC Thomson which publishes multiple titles including The Sunday Post, Stylist, and Beano (which now has a digital version powered by WordPress). Highlighting how the media can play an essential role in advocating for the communities it serves, Ella explained how DC Thomson has grown by adopting a community-driven business model. She also confirmed that by creating a common digital infrastructure for all of the different communities it targets – using “one CRM, one data lake, one technology team” – it’s simplified its production processes. 

Dominic Carter and Simon Farnsworth from The Sun – another major title that utilises our WordPress expertise – also gave a glimpse into how the tabloid has achieved global success by streamlining its tech, taking control of its data, and heavily investing in video. As well as improving page performance by creating a dedicated Core Web Vitals team, the newspaper has also focused on functionality that enables journalists and editors to more efficiently create and publish content. 

In addition, the event highlighted how live blogging – which we enabled for the New York Post via a custom built plugin – is still gaining significant audience interest for brands including BBC News, The Guardian and Sky News, despite stiff competition from social networks.

All about AI 

Although generative AI was hardly mentioned during the previous conference, the recent and rapid rise of tools such as ChatGPT means it threaded through many of this year’s talks. In particular, it was featured heavily in an expert panel discussion on newsroom productivity with Przemyslaw Pluta, Head of Platform Solutions at Sky News, and Derl McCrudden, Vice President for News and Head of Global Production at The Associated Press.

On the topic of whether current and future tech can help publishers to do more, especially when staffing levels are compromised, there were questions raised from the audience about AI diminishing the human workforce. Addressing such concerns, there was a consensus that while AI is a useful tool for handling less creative tasks such as SEO reporting, metadata tagging, and image research, people are still very much required to produce quality content. 

Rather than look to replace roles, collaboration is key, and a growing number of newsrooms are now relying on AI writing assistants to handle mundane and monotonous functions to ultimately streamline workflows. With the upcoming launch of its AI-powered analytics product – FT Diversify – The Financial Times is also demonstrating how AI can create positive change. Using machine learning, the tool detects unconscious biases across content to help publications provide a more balanced view and improve engagement with wider audiences.

Industry accolades 

After a day packed with valuable talks and discussions, the event rolled into 2023’s Future of Media Awards celebrations. Press Gazette’s Dominic Ponsford and guests from the industry presented and gave further insight into some of the best digital journalism products launched over the past year.

Winners included The Telegraph, Insider, Reach, the Kyiv Independent, Sky News and Tortoise Media, as well as The Financial Times which took home four awards. The Times, which recently partnered with Big Bite to transform how it publishes digital content, also secured the Best Online Video award and was highly commended for its travel videography work. 

To learn more about how major media brands are strengthening their online offering with WordPress, click here to download a free copy of our white paper: WordPress in the newsroom.

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