Today, Podium shines the spotlight on Ipsita Agarwal. Founder of Synopted News – an online newsroom where publishers & marketers create content, Ipsita started her writing career for a national daily, The Times of India, as a student journalist and also did her internship for the same in 2008. Singapore based Ipsita also worked with Label Magazine as Deputy Editor. We feature her post on Medium where she talks about reimagining news products and services for the modern reader.
The news industry has changed more in the last decade than it did in the centuries since Gutenberg invented the printing press in 1436. The business model from the print age has been copy-pasted to digital and found lacking. Now, publishers are left with two options: become content writers for third party platforms, or reimagine the news products and services for readers of today. This is a newbie’s take on what option two could look like.
Where we stand
When I started a news company in 2013, it was common knowledge that the baton had been passed on from print to digital. Technology was probably the biggest driver for change in news at the time. Legacy publishers raced to become responsive, while new entrants experimented with content and monetisation formats with varying degrees of success.
Today, the most startling change in news isn’t in the tech that supports it, but in its distribution. More and more power has been pried from the hands of publishers and put into platforms like Facebook, Apple and Google.
Compare the user experience on a news publisher and a platform such as Facebook. One has been designed to serve the same commodity, information, to an unknown mass of people, disregarding the differences in their prior knowledge, reading habits and interests. The other is designed to mould to the needs of a specific person by learning their behaviour and likes over time.
Platforms cater to individuals. Publishers broadcast to a mass audience.
It can’t come as a surprise to anyone if readers prefer the experience on platforms over publishers. It can be frightening though, and for good reason. Publishers are left at the mercy of the platforms that are friendly and accepting of publishers’ monetisation strategies today, but may not be tomorrow. Publishers run the risk of being reduced to content creators, diminishing their editorial responsibility and independence as journalists in the process.
That leaves publishers, new entrants and legacy brands alike, with two options: continue on the way things are going now. Or learn to think not as publishers, but designers of news experiences suited to the readers of today.
The transition from a “mass” media to “one-on-one” journalism is probably the biggest publishers will make, and it starts with some customer research.
Back to the basics
Elon Musk recently popularized the idea of “first principles”. The technique of stripping a problem “down to the most fundamental truths, and then reason up from there” isn’t new, it traces its roots all the way back to Aristotle.
In this technique, you take a complex problem, remove existing assumptions about it, and focus on its core concept. This way, instead of saying “we should do x this way because it’s always been done like that in the past”, we think about the problem “x” was trying to solve in the first place.
In the case of online publishing, perhaps start by questioning the purpose of journalism itself.
Read the full article on Medium here.