Tagged Journalism

Thoughts about the near future of news distribution based on some trends

Thoughts about how and what will change in news distribution in the next 10 years, by extrapolating some movements that are happening right now.

Let me know how you think about this, and please correct me if you think my assumptions are wrong.

1. Display advertising revenues will keep fading.
Banner supported is not a sustainable business model for news websites. Pageview prices are declining, inventory goes up and banner blindness is very real. News “engagement” is shifting to social networks.

At the same time brands are looking for brand experiences involving customers. They are building their own or public platforms to connect with customers. Display advertising is not adding enough value, even when it’s cheap.

NGO’s are practicing, funding or hosting journalism. They not only hire journalists they are hosting and distributing the stories themselves.

2. Television will take revenge.
With internet enabled television sets, the tv becomes a more interesting medium. There is always something to watch. Social layers will make live events more interesting. Especially news and sports events. Television interfaces need to change. We need new interface thinking for televisions. We need what the iPhone interface did to the mobile interface design thinking of all mobile phones.

3. Mobile becomes the #1 internet device.
Phone users outnumber computer users. Technology fits in phones and the lifecycle of a phone is shorter compared to a computer. The phone is a personal device, most computers aren’t. It’s the #1 communication device and this makes it the best device to share news. Todays modern mobile phone can do most things a computer could do in 2007.

4. Serendipity redefined.
Serendipity was something that belonged to newspapers and magazines. Serendipity was about the stories you found by accident in newspapers and magazines, small surprises. The web brought a new kind of serendipity, you found stuff by browsing. Social networks enhanced this experience. You find stuff because of your network. The “new” serendipity isn’t captured in media, it’s in the people. This is serendipity on a completely new level, it’s personal.

5. Databases become public
I don’t want to go into a discussion of when or if we ever will get a semantic web. What you can see is that more information becomes public and it is more structured. When databases go public more people can combine information to make new information, more people can practice database journalism.

6. Information availability and accessibility explodes
The web is still growing and it will probably never stop. As interfaces, global coverage and search evolve more people get easy access to all of this information. More information is a good thing, all you need is good filters. Those filters can be computers or human.

7. The real time web, we are all continuously connected.
Continuously connected, sharing more and more personal information. Maybe for safety, for fun or for voyeurism. Sharing creates online existence. Everything you do is information, combine this with point 5 and 6.

8. News agencies will no longer lead the discussion
They will keep losing the signaling function, because everyone is a (re)broadcaster in his or her own network. And they will find it difficult to control, lead or own the discussion. Discussions become fluid, you can start them, but you can’t own or host them.

Conclusive thoughts:
News is and will be a more social experience.

Your (social) network will be important to help you make order out of information chaos.

News outlets will act like hubs for people sharing the same ideas.

The media- or informationlandscape polarizes, like magazines. More media will engage on the same level, making them working great together or strong competitors.

Information will be free. All you have to do is connect the dots instead of creating them.

News will be about guiding and analyzing, almost like a curator. If you’re a good curator, you add value.

Curators are often people.

The news eco system will be much more decentralized, making it stronger.

The system how news distribution works right now is just not made for the media of tomorrow. The traditional ecosystem for news will be disrupted.

The new eco system will inform us better.

When media become brands and brands become media

Clay Shirky is someone to follow. He has a very clear way of explaining what’s going on. He takes some distance and describes what’s happening, why it’s happening and what the consequences are. If you like to know what social media really means you should definitely read his book Here Comes Everybody.

Last friday he wrote a very interesting post on his blog about the future of newspapers. The post had this great quote in it.

One of the people I was hanging around with online back then was Gordy Thompson, who managed internet services at the New York Times. I remember Thompson saying something to the effect of “When a 14 year old kid can blow up your business in his spare time, not because he hates you but because he loves you, then you got a problem.” I think about that conversation a lot these days.

The main idea of his story. There is no need for newspapers, there is need for journalism.

Newspapers are like shoes
I think the most powerful asset newspapers have is engagement. Newspapers are a brand. And some brands you like because those brands extend your personality, others you don’t. It’s personal and changes.

You might not like it, but all journalism is branded, simply because of the medium that tells it. As soon as you are communicating you are “branding”.

Shirky; News is always subsidized: The expense of printing created an environment where Wal-Mart was willing to subsidize the Baghdad bureau. This wasn’t because of any deep link between advertising and reporting, nor was it about any real desire on the part of Wal-Mart to have their marketing budget go to international correspondents. It was just an accident.

Being a brand is difficult for news media, because it touches the concept of objectivity, but branding has value. In Europe newspapers are selling books and DVDs, why? The can only sell this because they are a brand and this brand value is transportable. It’s like stitching a Nike logo on a pair of sneakers or a t-shirt. The logo increases the value of the t-shirt.

Branding doesn’t tell news media to less objective, on the opposite, news media derive value and consumer trust from being objective. It’s the base of their existence. That news media is left, right, “in the middle” or local doesn’t really makes a difference. It tells you something about the focus and focus adds value.

Get connected
Branding is evolving in something more sophisticated and difficult to grasp. Brands want to be your friend, brands want to connect to you, not just for one purchase, for your entire life. Just like newspapers.

Brands relies less on buying ads in media, they are media, and some brands (like Apple) even orchestrate the media.

News media should focus on engagement. Connect readers with the thing that bounds them. The news brand as a place for truth, values, discussion, opinion, investigation, news.

This is where added value is.

The future of press agencies

Middle Man cover

This week AP urged/forced bloggers to use ‘guidelines‘ set by AP when quoting articles. As you might expect this instantly burned all AP’s credits in the blogosphere.

Why? Why would AP be afraid about people copying parts of their articles and linking back? Haven’t we passed this station with newspapers before?

I think there might be a more structural problem for press agencies. Their customers are changing. Most of these agencies are created by newspapers. Combine journalism efforts and save money. But the web is famous for taking out the middle man. In this case the news websites.

Agencies like AP, Reuters and AFP are they source of news. The speed of publishing and access to information that we as consumers demand can do perfectly without a middle man. Press agency news is no longer an article that gives a journalist information to start writing his or her version. What a press agency publishes is the definite version.

Just take an AP headline and Google it.

What’s the problem?
What’s the real problem? Is AP afraid paying customers (news media) will start complaining because they (the agencies) are taking over the online conversation.

Press agencies are the source. And in a web where information is free to move and to be duplicated the source is the most important place.

What’s the future for press agencies? This question is equally important as the question about what the future of newspapers is. In todays news landscape press agencies are leading. Is their future (partly) in serving customers directly? Press agencies are facing changes, but what will be their new business model?

Image found on this forum by Jonny Crossbones