Submitted by montgomeryl on Thu, 07/09/2009 – 11:40am
It seems that nearly each week, there is yet another panel convened on the future of journalism and how to save the news business. Much of this centers on asking the question on ‘how on earth will we monetize this?’
I attended one of these discussions earlier this year under the auspices of JTM at the Poynter Institute, ‘The New News Ecology.’
And I came away profoundly changed, and convinced that applying some structure and metadata to every single piece of content, indeed,everything we do, be it an article, a photo, a blog post or a video – is going to transform the business.
This was after hearing Jim Kennedy, AP Strategic Planner, speak about how the AP was changing, after a century, how it reported, classified – via a new taxonomy – and distributed the news(on mobile platforms)
Here’s why: as one of my fellow attendees from the tech sector said: you don’t have to decide at the moment of creation what the end product could be. It could be located by searching by region, by keyword, by format type. It could be aggregated by outlets by topic or format for as many content types as possible as well as the topics.
This is a new way a thinking about the most valuable thing a news organization has: its content. The focus for so long has been about getting people to pay to deliver the news to them. It is still about getting the news to audiences, but you don’t need the trucks. Or the planes. It is about getting it in front of as many eyes – or electronic ones – as possible. This is unbundling the content from the source, which is radical. But you are getting it to where people spend their time, or have particular business or personal interests.
So the content would be run alongside other types relating to a particular topic, a keyword, or geographic region. The neighborhood the person spends their time in. And time is the most valuable commodity – people simply do not have time to go searching and surfing around. They will want to go to the quintessential site about: their city. Or their industry. So there is some creative licensing opportunity. This of course, is on the open internet.
But information – particularly factchecked, objective, high quality information is very valuable. As the workforce becomes leaner and has to be more productive, they will be accessing the information to do their jobs in commercial databases – or in online communities with other trusted users. The aforementioned have been used for years – and they require licensing, training, and subscriptions. As more of the news is covered in blogs and other new media formats – these need to be structured, keyworded, and aggregated. And resold.
Value will also be added by users – we saw some very interesting startups at this conference on items that would let people rank, comment, and source quotes and other information in news content. Enriching this with data that could be used or ranked or aggregated – but that lets users add their own value, and spend more time with the news.
In all of the discussions in the future of journalism I have heard not a word about the business of information. This is but one percent of the economy – but eventually will be much more than that, as manufacturing shrinks, services consolidate, and we transition toward a specialty – and, hopefully, knowledge-based society.
Ideally quite a bit of this structuring would be done with some curation if not largely automated, but even if it were the latter I seriously think
having someone who understands the importance of fields, and format types, and how they move through the system and live in the archive, would be essential – as a critical job function.
There have been information professionals in news organizations for many years performing these kinds of tasks, along with many others. Unfornately their numbers have been decreasing as the pressures to cut costs – and knowledge workers, who are an asset, are unfortunately seen as a cost. After all, as one news executive has said ‘everyone has the same information around them’ at all times.
Recognizing content as a valuable asset, with value beyond the day of publication – cannot be reiterated enough. It needs to be centralized, searchable, and accessible. And this should be for students, researchers, business professionals, and future generations, as well as an informed citizenry.
it almost seems…
Submitted by fake consultant on Mon, 12/07/2009 – 8:11pm.
…as though the person who spends their days writing the daily news better get paid right up front, because after that, the future belongs to the aggregators.
on the other hand, those who write history, or human interest stories, or, perhaps, movie or wine reviews (three quick examples), do have the potential to sell that material into new formats over time…which makes you wonder what incentive exists, other than immediate payment, to write the daily news?
“men are never so good or so bad as their opinions” –sir james mackintosh, “a general view of the progress of ehtical philosophy”, 1832