Are online newsrooms still relevant?
Spoiler Alert: Richard and I agree that online newsrooms are still relevant -- when they're done well. But their relevance has shifted. And there are many ways this relevance could increase. This is especially true if you consider how much has changed in the last five years across paid, owned and earned media.
>screen does the blurry transition to note we're considering the changes<
Publishing: Content management platforms have decentralized publishing. Every year publishing platforms become cheaper and more powerful than before. This has changed the roles in publishing as consumers and brands can now participate in a world once reserved to the fourth estate. And PR people don't have to bribe IT to make changes to their newsroom.
Social/Curation: Social media is driving sharing and simultaneously creating/enabling curation. Apps and sites like News.me, Flipboard, Wavii and even LinkedIn serve up more focused collections of news stories. And in most cases, it's user actions that drive their automagic algorithms. Over time, newsrooms gather a ton of content. Are they designed to capitalize on this? Are they using technology or tapping into site activity to complement this design?
Distribution: Consumers have become as much a part of distribution as they are the destination for our news. Consumers prefer sharing content to creating it. So they are passing your story around in a world where 1 in 5 access social networks. And in doing so, they're assigning credibility to your news once reserved for the fourth estate. Assigning sharing tools to newsroom content is helping brands tap into the potent combination of search and social to get their messages to consumers - in some cases without traditional earned news media.
And this has all happened as online behaviors have evolved.
Self-Correcting Transparency: Anyone who's thought that letting brands give consumers content directly is the gateway to anarchy, making the church and state separation of paid media and editorial a moot point, needs a broader view. There is a middle ground between black and white and the death of the fourth estate.
The curtain between editorial and paid media was drawn because it used to be the biggest way content credibility could be established. But a self-correcting transparency has been established in the online world. As publishing roles have broadened, so has the ability to prove out content validity.
Thanks in no small part to Google, astroturfing PR firms are uncovered faster than a pig looking for truffles. Sometimes questionable content is simply self-identifying. Passionate consumers seemingly find sport in revealing less than authentic claims. A growing group of online consumers may be losing their ability to spell thanks to auto-correct and text speak thinking, but they're also the beneficiaries of truthiness detectors.
News Industry: All of the above has come to pass as good people are being put out on the street as journalism's business model was never truly adapted for online consumption. Resources are such that content from brands and consumers as well as new publishing technologies are being tapped by the fourth estate to deliver their product.
Brands as Publishers: The perfect storm of changing technology, changing consumer habits and changing news industry has given brands the opportunity to evolve into publishers. Some are better than others. It requires more than hiring an ex-journalist, a search engine expert or a "digital native" to help you write stories, mix up Google juice or do Facebook, respectively.
We're talking about a bigger shift that it is helping fuel its own industry. What we once called custom publishing is now called content marketing. And it's obvious to me that online newsrooms don't fully reflect this shift. This rant aside, my next post will show three online newsrooms we don't hate. They're taking the above into account and there are some things we can learn from them.
:: This tactical mole hill was spun into a 600+ word mountain by Kevin Dugan