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Show your process, making news as a public beta

Gutenberg image from Wikipedia

The web made the process as important as the results. You can formulate this sharper and say; because of the dynamics of the web there is no such thing as a result. It’s a continuous process.

Secrets are almost impossible to hide and a new website isn’t finished unless it had a public beta version. We are increasingly involving the ‘user’ in every stage of a project from the concept to the launch of product or service. Why? Not just because we don’t want to launch a service with bugs, websites want to involve people and a beta website involves people.

This is the web, it’s not Gutenberg (print and store), it’s dynamic. The web is about the process, it’s about sharing information and collaboration. The web is not movable type, it’s modifiable type.

This is why a news service should partially change the model they are using.

News is a process, it’s always been a process. We package news into smaller objects and send these items – when finished – to the media demanding it. A short item for television, a recording for radio and an article for print.

We pre produce, we research, make drafts, recordings, edits, final cuts and more. All to show a final package containing one article or a news item on television. Why do we hide the process? because it’s irrelevant? The web doesn’t care about relevant or irrelevant, we have infinite space and sorting mechanisms. The web is about access to every piece of information available.

Hiding the process is in our culture
The process is often hidden. It’s in our culture to hide the process. What if our competitor might find out what we are doing? Have you patented this technology, have you registered the trademarks.

This is traditional thinking from a result. The process doesn’t matter, as long the end result is unique and can be claimed as unique. This is where the old and new cultures collide, traditional (based on results) and new (based on process).

If you want to involve people you show your process. Not everyone will be interested in the process, but that’s not a problem, those people can just skip the process. A process is about storytelling it’s about building a community, it’s about creating an idea, it’s about context and it’s about the truth.

What does this mean for news
I’m not saying how journalists are working is wrong. I think being a good journalist is like being a photographer. Most people can write or make a photo, but not everyone can write a great article or make a great photo. I don’t know if writing an article should be a wiki or co-creation process. I think it would be great to experiment with. I’m not saying all journalists should start a blog, it would be great, but only if you like it. Just find a way to make your process available.

What I do think is that the research of an article and preparations you make for a video should be online as well. It’s the process, it’s how you come to a story. This is storytelling, you start with what you’ve heard or suspect and dig into it, in public.

You engage with your audience in your quest for the truth (beta phase). Your audience might even help you further with creative input and knowledge. In the end you have a production (alpha version) which aires on television or ends in the newspaper. This marks a time in your process and for your followers. From this point the story continues because the article creates new news or you focus on something else.

The process is open and controllable and everyone is able to verify your story. Everyone is also able to build upon, even competitors. Is this a problem? In the future all information will be available to everyone, everywhere. News is (or will be) omnipresent. The value is in the selection, collections and the connections you make with the content. Be creative!

What do you think? In a continuous modifiable culture will the process be more important than the results? And do you know examples that use this? Wikipedia is never finished.

Image used from Wikipedia

5 replies on “Show your process, making news as a public beta”

The Guardian is already blogging their morning meetings. Good idea, to show your audience why you were doing things and that there is an internal debate as well about things that went well or wrong.

I think you’re right. The perception of news as a perpetual beta is better. A continuous project presumes it will only get better over time.

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