We are seeing several fresh examples of main stream media beginning to focus on what it has to do to survive and thrive in the future. Every day we find another example of media companies daring to change their model to adapt to the new world the face, and give the consumer a more relevant and useful product.
Today’s examples are in the area closest to my heart, news. Everyone has seen the business models of news organizations fall apart over the past several years. During that process these major players have done little besides cut costs to manages profits or losses. Few have aggressively tried to change their product to adapt to what consumers now want.
First, we have what may be the biggest news brand in the world, CNN, making a major decision to drop use of the Associated Press, and use the money it spends on that to focus on original content. It is critical for news organizations to give their customers compelling content that is difficult to find elsewhere. Original content becomes even more important when there is virtually no barrier to entry for people to create a news site using the Associated Press to provide the basic story it provides everywhere.
“We are taking an important next step in the content- ownership process we began in 2007 to more fully leverage CNN’s global newsgathering investments,” CNN Worldwide President Jim Walton told his staff in an internal memo obtained by Bloomberg News, and confirmed by CNN. CNN’s primary source for its news will now be itself. Hopefully this move will also hasten the convergence of CNN’s television and web operations in to one cohesive news force.
The second move I want to highlight today might on the surface seem like a contradiction. But it’s not. It’s a great example of solid news organizations doing something else they will have to do from now on, “curating” information and news from other sources for their readers.
Marketwatch and CNN Money websites have gone to Twitter-based financial service StockTwits to provide them each with widgets that will reside on their sites and give the large audiences both sites enjoy a glimpse into the trading rooms. StockTwit’s tweets generally reflect the topics being bandied about on trading desks in realtime. So no matter how well Marketwatch and CNN Money know their audiences, they know that StockTweets offers a different perspective, and one that is impossible for a news organization to do on its own.
While MarketWatch and CNN Money are embracing the art of curation, by getting help cutting through the noise that is the crowd on wall street, the CNN move seems to be going in the opposite direction and eliminating outside content from it’s sites. But actually, the CNN move is really solving a more critical problem it has. In CNN’s case this is an opportunity to have resources to develop its own voice and more original content, which it desperately needs. It needs to bringmore original news and content closer to CNN’s consumers on whatever platform they are using at the time. They are creating positions at headquarters and in bureaus to get information on TV more quickly and they are starting something called “CNN Share,” which will package breaking news immediately for distribution over mobile, the web and on television. CNN can no longer afford to be giving consumers news they feel they can get anywhere, from anyone.