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).