It's Time To Redefine News

from the about-time dept

Last week, we suggested that newspapers need to stop defining themselves as newspapers. That's defining themselves by a specific product, not the benefits people get from the offering. Instead, we felt that newspapers should start thinking of themselves as news organizations -- more broadly defining what they do. However, that leaves open a really important question about how do you then define "news." We recently covered the somewhat controversial report about how user-curated news aggregation sites tend to highlight different stories, compared to editor-managed news sites -- which really does open up the question of what really is news for people these days. Luckily, Jeremy Wagstaff has taken a fantastic stab at answering that question with a new column on how "news" is being redefined. He notes that the entire concept of "news" no longer fits with what many journalists think news is. It used to be about delivering important information from the source to the people who could make use of that information. News, he notes, is simply information. It's information that is new and/or useful and interesting to each individual. And, in a hyper-connected world with so much information flowing all the time, there's "news" all around, but it's different for everyone and it doesn't involve having a single professional determine what is news.
"What we're seeing with the Internet is not a revolution against the values of old media; a revolution against the notion that it's only us who can dictate what is news. What we're seeing is that people get their news from whoever can help them answer the question they're asking. We want the headlines, we go to CNN. But the rest of the time, "news" is for us just part of a much bigger search for information, to stay informed.
So, if we're redefining newspapers as news organizations and then redefining news itself as the information that's most important to any individual at that time, it starts to open up a lot of possibilities for where newspapers should be headed (though, it doesn't seem like many are looking in that direction).


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Wes, Oct 4th, 2007 @ 7:13pm

    You just described PegasusNews in Dallas

    A bunch of former mainstream media folks in Dallas got fed up with the way "news" was being done, and started PegasusNews. It's been up and running for a couple years now, and... They've been running this definition of news!!

    -Wes

     

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  2.  
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    Joe Blow, Oct 4th, 2007 @ 8:32pm

    Why do you think Google is worth $180bln

    The company is worth so much because it does best what no other "news" organisation can, provide information. That article is correct. If I want headlines I go to CNN, but if I want information, I go to Google, and from Google, to my information! Want to know what I think is great? This revolution in information is just starting now. What will it be like in 50 years?

     

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  3.  
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    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Oct 4th, 2007 @ 11:21pm

    Longest-lived definition

    Only one definition of "news" seems to have stood the test of time, and that's the one from William Randolph Hearst: "News is what somebody doesn't want published. Everything else is advertising".

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Ray, Oct 5th, 2007 @ 1:19pm

    The Cult of the Amateur

    I've been reading The Cult of the Amateur by Andrew Keen. He claims that amateur reporters / citizen journalists are destroying mainstream news. He comes across as an elitist who doesn't want "amateurs" like me to have a voice. While he raises some valid issues like privacy and false indentity, he especially rants against bloggers.

    Well, if the New York Times did its job before the war and questioned the "facts" used to justify the invasion of Iraq, maybe more people would keep reading it.

    Ray

     

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  5.  
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    Jeff Tippett, Jan 24th, 2008 @ 7:13am

    Let me pull...

    This is so right on. Perhaps we bore of news being pushed on us. I used to be a morning show junkie. Now, I can't stand it. I don't want someone else to determine what news I get fed...I don't want them to determine when I get it...and I don't want them to interrupt me with push marketing while I'm waiting. Most, I think, would agree that the traditional newspaper is imploding. We all still want the news...we just want it in a different way. So, nothing has changed...and yet everything has changed.

    Jeff Tippett
    calvertcreative.com

     

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