Where news is going

Richard Gingras, Google News Products

In some ways, we can see the future of news delivery, and it’s all around us.

If you want a second opinion, consider the remarks attributed to Richard Gingras, head of News Products at Google, in Matt Stempeck’s blog for the MIT Center for Civic Media.

Gingras, among several interesting points, suggests that social media is getting a lot more attention from Google these days. And why not?

Facebook and Twitter are familiar to more than 90% of Americans, according to the “The Social Habit 2011” by Edison Research. More people are getting their news from these sites, as aggregated and recommended by their ‘Friends.’

Among his other key points [and my observations]:

– The pace of technical change won’t abate; we’re not simply in a transition between two eras.

– Journalism is in a renaissance: Everyone now has a printing press. [And they’ve all got a distribution system and they’re all potential competitors and contributors.]

– Newspapers have been slow to change their outdated processes [We see this every day; it’s difficult to get people to rethink decades-long practices.]

– Better understand the underlying content economy. People used to get newspapers because of geography. Now they’re finding what they want anywhere online. [We sold news because we owned the geography and distribution; now geography matters little and anyone can distribute.]

– Consider ‘Living’ story pages. [Wikipedia ranks high in search engines because it capitalizes on its trusted URL. Newspapers, stuck in old production cycles, produce a URL one day and throw it out the next. Imagine if they built upon/improved the same story each time it updates. Right now, most content management systems don’t really allow it.]

– Learn from the data, but don’t let it dictate. [Translated: I know Jobbie Nooner photo galleries will do well, but that doesn’t mean we stop producing important news.]

– Because reporters are the most important part of the enterprise, invest in technology to help them and maximize their time. [Here, here!]

– Constantly innovate – from where folks sit to what they do. [Don’t stand still.]

A friend pointed out on Facebook that Gingras, who hails from Salon, didn’t have a stellar balance sheet there. But as you see news evolving these days, it’s pretty hard to argue against any of these points or suggestions.

20120514-215702.jpg
Jobbie Nooner 2011, via The Detroit News

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6 comments

  1. smkpuck · · Reply

    Distribution platforms are changing. Traditionally, we think of newspapers, magazines, television, radio and the Internet. But consider this: I know a newspaper that already outsources ALL of its high school video. As it downsizes its staff, several of the best prep reporters and editors have taken buy outs. I don’t think it will be long before the newspaper outsources its reported prep coverage, too, other than some enterprise and investigative work. The statistical overage is easy enough to automate.
    And as for new platforms, a local restaurant chain with a sports motif in our area has is opening a new chain of smaller hamburger hangouts (reminds me of “Happy Days”!) with multiple video screens/TVS. I see a combination of the outsourced video, outsourced game coverage (which will likely evolve into video recaps), and statistical printouts being distributed at individual high school’s nearby hamburger hangout. Watch the game recaps of the video screens (replayed in a constant loop like a 24/7 all-news radio station), get a free stats printout with your burger. It would be easy enough o produce noon, 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. 15-minute sports news reports for the specific high school.

    1. Easy if it is outsourced, I suppose. An expensive proposition for a newsroom. But if you’ve already got the content, it may well be worth trying.

      1. smkpuck · ·

        The contractor gets the revenue by providing the content to the platform/restaurant. Nothing says a newspaper, if it maintains ownership of the content, couldn’t do the same thing. But as Richard Gingras says above, it’s tough to get traditional newspaper people to think about non-traditional platforms (like a restaurant chain!). The content for preps, however, is more effective as video, not print stories. And I’d maintain that newspapers still think words, not video — even though most now layer it in.

      2. That’s so true. And from my television experience, I can say that while newspapers can do video, they seem to do it reluctantly. From my experience that’s in part because of the significant quality difference compared with local television.

      3. smkpuck · ·

        If a newspaper considers video important to reaching key demographics, then I’d hire a couple local television folks. Seems to me that they’re on the job market, too.

      4. True. Although in this environment, finding newspapers hiring at all is getting more and more difficult!

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