News is dead. Long live the News.

Overview

Since the days of the Town crier, people have had a desire to know what’s happening.

Unfortunately, although channels for receiving the news have dramatically evolved, the broadcast methodology embraced by the first Town Crier is still is in the forefront.  As channels for collecting and delivering the news become IP-centric, however, the platforms that deliver the news are converging with online communication platforms.

New communications platforms like Twitter and Facebook are in a position to capitalize on this new world – disrupting the news as we know it. These platforms are becoming central in a world where news is becoming user-generated, real-time, democratic, and conversational, and available everywhere.

User-generated

As the price and size of digital cameras, camcorders, and other portable devices decreases, the ability for the average user to generate media like photos, videos, text, and audio is also dramatically increasing.   In particular the explosion of popularity of web-enabled, smart phones with multimedia capabilities has not only contributed to the creation of more media, but also the real-time availability of that content.  This leads us to the next facet of News 3.0.

Real-time

News 3.0 is real time.  The classic reporter is judged by their ability to deliver the scoop.  Now, everyone has the ability to do that.  For instance, Biz (co-founder) of Twitter told me a story about how Twitter users started delivering the news on an earthquake before the traditional outlets got the story.  In the current news model, reporters are alerted of happenings and rush to the scene to capture a formal report.  In the new world, the people that see the news and the people that report it are the same.

Democratic

Before social networks, news would travel virally via channels like email.  However, although email is a great delivery mechanism, there is no way for the best news to be surfaced to the top.  Enter the feed.  With platforms like Facebook and Twitter, word-of-mouth is not only automated, but it is also amplified via the feed.  Moreover, platforms like Digg take news inputs from individuals and enable the community to serve as editorial staff.  As the news ‘breaks’ through new online communication platforms, the best news rises to the top without centralized editing – the news is democratic.

Conversational

Until recently, the networks for delivering the news were separate from the networks that enabled online communication.  If you saw a great news report on CNN, you would chat about it with friends via separate channels like the phone.  That’s gone bye-bye.  A rudimentary example of the new world is blogging.  Blogs enable people (like me) to deliver news and people (like you) to comment and discuss.  Facebook and Twitter not only combine the delivery of news with the discussion, but also combine all these streams and enable a whole new information consumption experience.  The news is now an integrated part of the conversation.

Everywhere

Your desire for relevant and contextual information does not start and stop at the television screen.  IP-based delivery of video, along with the other forces above, are leading to a world where conversational news can be experience at multiple touch points such as at web sites, widgets, the mobile, and the television screen.

Conclusion

Many major news organizations see the writing on the wall.  A few are proactively attempting to face this change.  CNN is a great example.   CNN has a web site, widgets, mobile services, and a television network.  Moreover, they have actively been integration communications into all of these touch points.  In some instances, they have created homegrown services like iReport.  In other cases, they have delivered experiences using external services like Facebook Connect.  Although these moves are necessary for them to continue to be relevant in this brave new world, they are not sufficient.   Integrating with communications is just the first step.  The long run viability of traditional news organizations will be determined by their ability to remain in the center of a world where communications and news platforms are one in the same.

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