Posts Tagged ‘Digital News’

Today we launched the new USAToday.com.
Thank’s to the magnificent and tireless work of an army of engineers, designers, programmers, product managers, editors, etc., under the direction of Gannett Digital president David Payne, we are taking a huge step into the future, not without risk, by creating what we believe is a major step for our viewers and advertisers.
The new USAToday.com is a dramatic change for both.

For our readers and viewers it represents a significant step toward visual storytelling, but one that respects the fact that no two readers are alike, especially during times of significant technological change. We give you several options on how to view news, information, entertainment and advertising but all involve significant curation by our editorial staff, the heart and soul of the value we bring to this storytelling process. This creation is truly a collaborative work between dedicated technologists and equally dedicated journalists.

We give the reader the ability to use visuals or words in varying degrees in their consumption process. And we will do it in varying degrees. If the reader wants, for example, he or she can view each story by starting with a photograph or a video. They can even use a device we call “Cover Mode” (see the little book-like design at the top of the page) that allows them to see each story via a full-page photograph, the most dramatic use of still photography in the storytelling process we have ever seen on the Internet.

We give you the ability to view by our definition of importance or by anyone’s definition of timeliness. By merely scrolling over a visual reference to a story they can also see more text to put that story in context. And by viewing our “Right Now” column along the right side of the page, you will see relevant social media reactions to the ongoing story in real-time.
Our horizontal navigation, inspired by the growing and already massive use of tablets, allows the reader to “peruse” the sections or the stories on the site by turning pages, re-imagining the “discovery” process we so love in the print media. It allows you to be surprised by content you didn’t know existed, but to do so at your own speed, depending upon your time and inclination.

Cover View: A new way to peruse stories through their most dramatic images

The horizontal “page-turning” experience also allows our advertisers to reclaim the full-page ad they so dearly want and need. We allow those advertisers the chance to use the entire palate in whatever way they want to grab your attention, all the time giving you the same ability you had in print to turn the page. But watch out, you are going to see some wonderful ads that use dramatic visual tools from interactivity to video to draw you in.

Advertising in general has also changed in a big way on this site. Gone are the many small units that appears in different places on the page, frequently below the “fold” or unavailable until you scrolled down. We listened to our readers and our advertisers, and we have reacted by giving both a better experience. We have limited the advertisers to fewer but much more dramatic positions, giving them the same chance we are giving ourselves of telling their stories better and reaching more people with increasingly dramatic tools.

This is truly a major step into the new world of digital storytelling, one that empowers them, as storytellers with their own story to tell, to use every tool available: video, audio, text, photography, interactivity and more to tell his or her story. This is a step in the reinvention of storytelling, it’s also a step in the reinvention of how news will be created and consumed. We’re extremely excited to be part of that process.

Much more to come. Watch over the next few weeks as we roll out our new tablet and mobile apps, and if you haven’t recently, take a look at our print newspaper, too. It has also begun to embrace the strengths of a print product in today’s media mix and you will be surprised. And we are making it easier on all platforms for you to contact us. In the spirit of this new era of communications, please send us your comments, ideas and suggestion.

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.

by Larry Kramer
As if the year hasn’t been tough enough for the media, the press’ role in disseminating news took some harsh blows this week.

Consider this lead on a wire story on CBSSports.com on Wednesday:

“MINNEAPOLIS—Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love says on Twitter that Kevin McHale will not return as coach next season.

“In an update posted early Wednesday, Love tweeted, ‘Today is a sad day…Kevin McHale will NOT be back as head coach this season.’”

Media will no longer be the filter through which all news must pass. That genie is out of the bottle.

These words were not followed by any official confirmation, but by this:

“Upon seeing the posting, a person in the league was told McHale sent a text message to Love indicating he was not coming back. The person requested anonymity because no official announcement has been made.”

So one Tweeter goes on the record to say the coach has been fired, and a worldwide news organization, even after the information is public, is reduced to a secondhand rumor from an unnamed source.

“P.S. I am not a breaking news guy…” Love further tweeted, according to the wire report…which I assume is at least reporting the tweets accurately. “I had no idea no one knew…I’ll tell them I stayed at a holiday inn express last night. Always works…”

This is just the latest incident to highlight the growing role the general public is taking in news dissemination. Raw, unfiltered, and with out any known standards to follow, news on Twitter from nonprofessional journalists can be inaccurate and even dangerous. But even knowing that, the public is quickly gravitating toward interactive social networks and devices like Twitter.

Go back just one day and look at what is happening in Iran. Twitter became the delivery method of choice for news out of Iran. The only action the Obama administration took to try to ensure the free flow of information out of Iran over the last couple of days was to ask the Web programmers who work on Twitter to delay a planned upgrade that would have shut down the system during daylight in Iran.

The White House made no pleas to give our news agencies access or protection to do their job. The State Department knew where people were getting their information—and knew that Twitter was difficult for any government to control.

What does this mean for traditional news organizations?

For one thing, they can’t afford to be lazy or continue to ignore their readers. Form matters as much as substance now. News consumers want news on demand and in formats that work for them. They know a tweet is real time and they like its precision and efficiency. And they like the feeling they are being put right on the scene. They can feel the emotion.

The old image of the City Hall reporter with his feet up on his desk, being handed a press release and turning it into a story without ever having to move, may be a bit unfair, but it doesn’t matter. Media will no longer be the filter through which all news must pass. That genie is out of the bottle.

Basketball player Kevin Love’s tweets are interesting to the public—more interesting than what the fifth, sixth, or seventh beat reporter covering the Timberwolves is giving them. In fact, sometimes more interesting than what the number 1 beat writer is giving them. People don’t need a reporter to give them access to what a person of interest is thinking.

The media needs to finds its place in the new media world. It will be needed. There were already concerns that the Iranian government was sending out disinformation on Twitter in Iran. Just as Twitter becomes an effective medium, it will surely be co-opted by evildoers and hucksters who can take advantage of its lack of filtering. There will be a need to curate the growing tsunami of information.

But the media is learning the hard way that the tsunami can’t be ignored. It is changing the world we know, and we have to find a way to make it better and to be part of it…not cling to our old ways of doing it. And the media needs to improve. In the throes of cutback after cutback, the content being presented is suffering. Newspapers have allowed themselves to become largely irrelevant.

While it is true that news will not be delivered 12 hours later on a printed and delivered piece of paper, it is just as true that boring news, or news that doesn’t advance what a reader already knows, will be just as useless.

Editing and context will be valued, but only to the point where readers/viewers believe it’s helping to advance their absorption of information. Smart opinions and firsthand reports will grow in value.

Our news organizations need to understand these audience changes and become part of the new ecosystem in a way that enhances these living streams of information, not ignores them.