Reminding me of the brilliant conversations that we had in the early days of journalism blogging, I’ve recently been discussing how newspapers expand what they cover in their communities and how they set priorities. The issue of priorities came out loud of clear from working journalists who feel stretched thin. To do more with less, I think, quite passionately so, that we can forge a new partnership with our communities.
John Robinson, a former editor in the US, has challenged newspaper to break out of their paradigms and choose a niche. His call to action in many ways reminds me of 2007 report called the Frontiers of Innovation that challenged newspapers to do a better job of “translating the lived experience of their community”. The challenge in 2013 is a lot harder for most community newspapers. How do they broaden their agendas when their staff has shrunk? It is going to take newsroom leaders who can set out a strategic vision and prioritise their remaining resources. We can’t be everything to everyone anymore so it is better to be something to some.
Comments are broken! That’s been a common refrain lately, and while I do think comments are a mess, I think this is down to a lack of strategic thinking around audience engagement and passive, or non-existent, community management strategies. It’s not rocket science though, and Lifehacker has shown a simple way to foster good conversations online.
The discussion around paid content in journalism has moved on from the silly, binary free versus paid discussion to a sense that journalism has always been paid for by a mix of revenue from advertisers and revenue from readers. That mix is changing and is quite fluid at the moment. As some news groups ask people to pay for content they used to receive for free, leaders in those groups will have to ask: Will consumers see a change from free to paid as simply a change in price or a change in their relationship to news organisations? Consumers will accept one but reject, often with disastrous results, the other.
You don’t need a big a budget or a big staff to build news applications, and in this great post from non-profit news organisation, MinnPost, Alan Palazzolo writes about some of the ways that they keep it simple but deliver great impact.
New York Times journalist and developer Derek Willis has questioned coverage that calls on people to hate the ‘system’ – their government – while also trying to call on them to save it. He’s spot on. Corrosively cynical coverage that leaves people feeling powerless will only cause them disengage rather than working to change their societies for the better.
Since the arrival of digital media, most of the innovation has been focused on the editorial side of the business, while the advertising side of the business has largely stuck to pre-digital models like display advertising. Now, we’re starting to see real innovation on the ad side at news organisations. Can it turn around the flagging fortunes of news organisations?
What job does a newspapers do in the digital age? This isn’t to say that a newspaper has no role, but it is to say that just as news organisations need to transform digitally, they also need to transform their print products. This dual-transformation has been key to Clark Gilbert’s success in the US, and changes at the Financial Times underscore the importance of rethinking print and while radically transforming to serve digital audiences.
John Thompson of Journalism.co.uk has just tweeted some amazing stats about Finland’s largest daily newspaper, Helsingin Sanomat, from the World Publishing Expo 2013. One jumped out in particular that 42 percent of their subscribers pay for digital content. That is nothing short of astounding, and I do hope that Journalism.co.uk highlights how they have been able to achieve that.
I started this post simply to question the cost of a two year, $750,000 investigation by ProPublica and This American Life into the potential dangers of acetaminophen. However, 30 seconds of online research and a couple of quick looks at my acetaminophen bottles called into question key assertions in the story. This seems to be a massive waste of time and money.