Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Embracing web 2.0 and the impact on news

In a recent wide ranging and typically well argued piece, Simon Waldman makes the obvious, but no less important, point that Web 2.0 and its elements, including blogs, are part of a fundamental change to publishing. According to Waldman, this change has four main foci:

  1. The change from publishing once a day, to publishing immediately and constantly.
  2. The change from being entirely UK focussed (In the case of The Guardian) to having a global outlook.
  3. The shift from text and pictures to audio and video
  4. The shift from audience to community.

It's that last point that I think contains the key to longevity and future success for news organisations. Blogging is an important part of that, and no doubt we'll be discussing it next Wednesday, but it's only one part.

The blogging v journalism debate has run its course and the verdict is in. As Waldman rightly says: "If we say the two key pillars of journalism are original reporting and informed comment - we have to accept that there are hundreds of blogs that fit the bill."

But community is something more. Sure, you can create a type of community around a blog. But at its heart a blog pretty much always has some sort of cult of personality. Community is richer, or more meaningful than that.

And therein lies the real challenge.

Waldman is optimistic, and he's right. There is a vital need for thoughtful optimism because the threats to newspaper revenues are very real.

A case in point is Google's recently announced intention to publish syndicated news wires. This will inevitably force many news organisations to cut deeper into their resources and come up with more unique content within their footprint.

In other words, newspapers will need to look to their own staff to provide more coverage of the stories the wires don't report in order to maintain their organic search rankings and keep their Google derived online audience.

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