I've written on the automated triangulation of news that underpins Google's news page. It's a page that I find hugely valuable for watching news break across a really diverse range of sources.
But right now when I look at the NZ Google page - they have one just for us Kiwis - the lead story says that Terri Schiavo's parents are still fighting to have the feeding tube reinserted - old news. Right beneath that lead story is a piece about the Pope taking a turn for the worse - current news. That's because those are the stories are being clicked. In all fairness to Google they do indicate the age of the news. And packaged in the Schiavo story is the sad news of her death. Which, despite being more current isn't the lead.
So sometimes the wisdom of crowds doesn't always result in the delivery of breaking news - it's inconsistent. This reinforces a point Stephen Shankland made to me awhile back that we shouldn't confuse sites that triangulate news with those that break news.
And thinking about my post below - this points to something I am willing to pay for in a news site. Insightful reporting on breaking news with professional editorial management. Hasn't that always been the business that sets the great news sites apart from the rest. Witness the success of News.com and The Register.
I wonder if their strategists have any concept of the Long Tail and how we are embracing it. Moreover, I wonder if any of them are actually listening to customers. (this is already becoming a bit of a rant... sorry...).
What is even more annoying here is the audacity that they think they can wean us off "free" online content. They need to grasp that first, for us the consumer, it isn't free - we all know we're paying directly and indirectly - we're in fact subsidizing and paying for the distribution (computer, broadband...). And they are making money off free - they just aren't optimizing their business models for it.
The one hope I think publishers have of making us pay for online content is to make it valuable. Make it something we want to pay for.
And publishers better get with the Blogosphere, Wiki and PodCast - all of this is about the commoditization of news and raw information - and the addition of all kinds of new value as we, the people, start commentating and providing perspective. That's no longer the exclusive purview of the journalist.
The appointment driven news models of the major publishers is dying fast. And I don't believe that we will be willing to pay for just the utility of on demand (that's where the Long Tail will smack you in the head if you attempt it). It's going to take a complete rethink for publishers to monetize the current wave of information revolution - and survive. Stepping back in time and overlaying yet another subscription model will only accelerate extinction.
Thanks to Dan for the pointer. Good study and well worth the read:-
There's a dramatic revolution taking place in the news business today and it isn't about TV anchor changes, scandals at storied newspapers or embedded reporters. The future course of the news, including the basic assumptions about how we consume news and information and make decisions in a democratic society are being altered by technology-savvy young people no longer wedded to traditional news outlets or even accessing news in traditional ways.
I wonder how much time PR people - agency and client side - spend discussing media strategy and trends. We tend to make assumptions about what people are reading and when. In the (near) future, media planning and strategy will become as an important function to PR as it is to advertising today.
The dramatic shift in how young people access the news raises a question about how democracy and the flow of information will interact in the years ahead. Not only is a large segment of the population moving away from traditional news institutions, but there has also been an explosion of alternative news sources. Some have been assembled by traditional news organizations delivering information in print, on television and on the radio as well as via the Internet and mobile devices. Others include the thousands of blogs created by journalists, activists and citizens at large.
While the outright collapse of large news organizations is hardly imminent, as the new century progresses, it's hard to escape the fact that their franchises have eroded and their futures are far from certain. A turnaround is certainly possible, but only for those news organizations willing to invest time, thought and resources into engaging their audiences, especially younger consumers. The trend lines are clear. So is the importance of a dynamic news business to our civic life, to our educational future, and to our democracy.
This is exactly the kind of leadership I wish we could get from the various PR associations that exist. The J School at BU says this:
"[We] condemn the use of “phony” reporters hired by the government to perform in VNRs where their affiliation with government is unstated, and urge the Administration to translate the President’s words into action by ceasing this practice at once."
Unanimous Resolution of the Boston University Journalism Faculty Condemning Fraudulent Use of Video News Releases - March 22, 2005 - RESOLVED, THAT...
As educators of the next generation of American journalists, we the journalism faculty at the College of Communication, Boston University:
Recognize the need of citizens in a democracy for information that is accurate, unbiased and independently gathered and presented;
Recognize the vital need of government to communicate with its citizens and the useful role print and video news releases (VNRs) can play in this process;
Recognize the obligation of news organizations to identify clearly the origin of any editorial material provided by government, business, interest group or any source other than their own news gathering or that of affiliated news organizations;
Recognize the obligation of government to avoid using VNRs for purposes of political advocacy or propaganda;
Recognize the need to avoid presenting the material in a way that invites public confusion as to its source;
Note the President’s recent statement that acknowledges the need to maintain a clear line of distinction between journalists and members of the government or Administration;
Condemn the use of “phony” reporters hired by the government to perform in VNRs where their affiliation with government is unstated, and urge the Administration to translate the President’s words into action by ceasing this practice at once;
Urge the Administration to identify and cease other practices with respect to VNRs that run a substantial risk of misleading the public;
Condemn the deliberate use by television news outlets of material knowingly obtained from the Administration without clear identification of its origin, and urge all members of the media to cease this deceptive practice at once.
We invite colleagues at other journalism schools and departments to endorse the Boston University Resolution.
Seems like a pretty good foundation for the PR industry. There is more over at PressThink.