Thursday, February 22, 2007

Pride In The Name of News

If you care about getting the news in a timely fashion, there is no reason to read a newspaper.

Spot news, it seems, is disappearing from the pages and moving to the screens.

A recent New York Times newsroom memo from Bill Keller announced that the Internet will be key to 2008 political coverage:

For this Presidential election cycle we are organizing our coverage in a new (for us) way: for the first time, a central political desk will supervise coverage for the newspaper and the web. This new desk will include not only newspaper editors, but also people with experience in web production, database reporting and software development. Newspaper and online journalism will get equal emphasis — we are well past the day when we can think of ourselves as a newspaper with a Web site on the side — for an audience that now expects its political news to arrive in full multimedia, interactive glory.

The goal is to develop a seamless operation that can feed our blog and home page with breaking news all day long, produce innovative and value-added multimedia and database reports -- and then deliver the smartest, freshest possible stories to our newsprint readers the next morning.
Basically, Keller and Co. have reorganized the way instant-news is produced at The Times. He's placed equality between the paper and the website, and as far as political stories go, he values the benefit of clickable electoral maps, live-voting feeds and comparison charts that aren't truncated to fit a peice of paper.

As I've mentioned before, this change at The Times is indicative of a new way to do the news: Internet first, paper second. And it's more profitable than critics think.

Web journalism has finally found its reporters. And it seems they're more inclined than ever to be versed in web production, multimedia and traditional reporting savvy.

The future is clearer than we think: spot news will reside online, and adventurous, well-rounded journalists will helm the ship.

Conversely, expect to see a change in the very basic format of writing a news story: half-reported stories will rarely make it to the page, and analysis will become a critical component of a basic news story - the real reason people will keep reading a publication.

The "news" in "newspaper" is now a relative term: it's news to anyone who hasn't read the website.

Will newspapers save the big, muckraking stories for the printed page? Maybe, if they think no one else has the story. But if a newspaper smells competition, don't expect to see any "exclusives" on the printed page.

For newspapers who pride themselves on getting a story first (and being cited as so), posting it online with a timestamp is the new proof of bleeding-edge legitimacy.

After all, aren't newspapers sick of citing blogs as the first sources for stories?

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