Changes in the news industry: Opportunities with technology and business model shifts


From Chris Harrison’s “TouchTools,” Carnegie Mellon University

What cloud computing now makes possible for data — deriving insights from what otherwise would be noise — is what journalists have done for centuries.

In the past, what set apart journalists was the ability to collect the most useful data from the most unique and hard-to-find places (e.g., having a well-placed source), combined with the well-honed skills of combining sources of information to create insights (feature writing) atop the importance on data cleansing (verifying information and fact checking).

What sets journalists apart now? The same capabilities.

But technology is rushing rapidly into each of those areas. For the news industry — and don’t confuse it with media, which doesn’t need to do the same kind of data cleansing, for starters — some of the next big opportunities are in finding up-market combinations of information from disruptive technologies, and to blend them with journalism’s up-market competencies: Verifying, drawing insights, providing context.

For news organizations looking for a value proposition in a shifting marketplace, one possible future is in the data collected not from the field (thought that’s what brings everyone together), but from the consumers of the information and insights drawn together. The multiplier of that value will be the interesting ways in which news organizations can blend their consumer data with other external and third-party data sets for sale in the marketplace now.

Here are three technological drivers of change that I see affecting the news media industry in 2015. It’s not an exhaustive list.

Streaming live video attached to social. (Read this interesting piece.)
360-degree cameras, providing you-are-there opportunities
Startups trying to link to established news partners
Vice media connecting to established media partner HBO (And new competing paid streaming services from media companies)
Connecting on-scene customers who are capturing information with their phones with journalism’s ability to synthesize, prioritize and highlight important insights

Data insights:
Visualizing data for readers. (How an incumbent organization plays it.)
Capturing data (and insights) on readers
Finding value to news organizations from uniting data sets on customers into single “big data” lakes with other third-party information, and building insight engines off of that for established news organizations

Provide news updates
Collect hotspots of users — where and when they go in aggregate
Enable advertiser push notifications to users
Creating cloud data repository to maintain information, enabling locational services in later bolt-on business models

In general, the news industry has been good at staying ahead of the journalism-related portion of information-gathering. Leaders in the industry adapted well to mobile, social media, video proliferation, and even community building. They’ve moved up-market with computer-assisted and investigative reporting.

The innovation needs to happen on the business model side. When advertisers can go directly to consumers, what value can you add to them as a news outlet? A platform shift has to occur. Technological shifts are part of the solution. The rest will come from clever value proposition creation — and responsible back-end support on modern data architectures.

– James Janega



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