Reimagining the News

IpsitaAgarwalToday, 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
shutterstock_110606108Elon 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.

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Death to the Mass

Jeff Jarvis

This week, Skribe welcomes Jeff Jarvis from BuzzMachine to take the stage on Podium.
Jeff, a blogger and NYC insider, is also an associate professor at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. He has authored popular books ‘What Google Would Do?’, ‘Public Parts’, and a kindle single ‘Gutenberg the Geek’. Today we feature his essay on Medium, which suggests that the news business must rebuild its entire value proposition; redefine consumer groups of the service.

Media must rebuild its business around relevance and value, not volume.

In mass media, we have debated for generations whether content or distribution is king. Turns out neither is. There is no king. Instead, the kingdom is ruled by the relationships among its citizens.

Relationships, of course, fuel Facebook’s empire as it connects people with each other. Relationships inform Google as it uses what it knows about each of us to deliver greater relevance in everything from search results to email prioritization to maps. Each of these giants knows every one of us as an individual. Each is a personal services company.

Not the news business. We still treat the public we serve as a mass, all the same, delivering a one-way, one-size-fits-all product that we fill with a commodity we call content. What has died thanks to the abundance and choice the internet enables is not print or newsstands, longform or broadcast. What has died is the mass-media business model — injuring, perhaps mortally, a host of institutions it symbiotically supported: publishing, broadcasting, mass marketing, mass production, political parties, possibly even our notion of a nation. We are coming at last to the end of the Gutenberg Age.

Death-to-the-MassRather than continuing to try to maintain our content factory, whose real business is selling eyeballs by the ton, imagine instead if news were a service whose aim is to help people improve their lives and communities by connecting them not only to information, but also to each other, with a commercial model built on value over volume. Imagine if news understood its role not as a vertically integrated industry that owns and controls a scarcity — the printing press, the broadcast tower, delivery trucks, the audience, space or time in media, and lately attention — but rather as a member of the community it serves and as a player in a larger, complex ecosystem of information, data, technology, and relationships. Imagine all the ways that technology enables us to realize our true mission of informing communities, far beyond what we could do with our old, one-way, one-size-fits-all mass media of print and broadcast.

If we are to reimagine news as such a service — built on relationships and thus relevance and value — then it is necessary to reconsider many of our fundamental assumptions about our business: that we manufacture a product filled with content; that our core competence is distribution to audiences; that audiences must come to us to consume our content; that the public is as nostalgic as we are for our old media of print and broadcast; and that we have a proprietary hold on trust and authority. We also cannot continue to act like the proprietors of monopolies and oligopolies, believing that we can go it alone and don’t need to collaborate with the new entrants, like Facebook and Google, which we would like to think stole the audience and ad revenue that once belonged to us. Get over it.

Read the full article on Medium here.

The Assamese Awardee

ChaiTime-Image3.5.16Congrats to Anuradha Sharma Pujari, popular Assamese writer-journalist, for being awarded with the Assam Press Correspondents’ Union (APCU) Award on Saturday, 30th April. APCU, celebrating its foundation day, honored Anuradha for her contribution to the local media. » The sixth edition of The Brand Trust Report named Hindustan Times as India’s most trusted print media brand. The English daily, with a readership of 4.5 million across the country, is the top read in Delhi-NCR and the second most read in Mumbai. » According to Facebook India’s recently revised policy, following SC orders, a post will be taken down on counts of illegality when a government or legal document is presented along with the appeal, only after the company scrutinizes it with its legal team. This will help the social media giant with better management and content filtering, curbing a lot of irrelevant requests. » Google these days is busy testing its new feature that will allow people or groups to post short bits of text directly into Google searches. Along with the text, those participating can put in an image, video and link. This new feature is bound to become a headache for the micro-blogging site Twitter as it will kick Twitter’s own content down in Google searches. See more.

Twitter At Your Service

ChaiTime-Image19.4.16On 21st April, GOI is going to launch a new service “Twitter Seva” for entrepreneurs of different stages to seek support or funding assistance from the government. After PM Narendra Modi launched Ola e-rickshaw services for Tier II and III cities, this is a concrete step in the same direction to strengthen the ‘Start-Up India, Stand-Up India‘ initiative. » Indian Union Ministers now have a social tally. Recently ranked by the PMO on the basis of how quickly and efficiently they respond to public grievances on Twitter, the list saw Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj at the top. Close to follow was Minister of Railways, Suresh Prabhu, with a special control room to address complaints and grievances through the ministry’s official handle @RailminIndia. Check the full list of tech savvy officials here. » Speaking of tallies, in a survey by CareerCast, which reviewed more than 200 jobs based on the environment, income, outlook and stress associated with them, newspaper reporter is the worst profession for the third year in a row. » Good news for Bhubaneswariya train passengers as they will now be able to avail Google’s high- speed free wifi services. Commissioned by RailTel in association with Google, launched by Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on 18th April in the Odisha capital, this service is aimed to benefit 1.4 lakh visitors at Bhubaneswar station, daily. » Dainik Bhaskar has recently launched an ad film that supports girl child education. Part of the brand’s ‘Zidd Karo Duniya Badlo’ campaign, the two minute short film is created by Ogilvy & Mather and is scheduled to be telecast through all media channels on a pan-India basis.

#StandWithAGirl

ChaiTime-Image01.03.16To support education and empowerment of the girl-child, Nat Geo launched a unique fund raising initiative #StandWithAGirl on February 15, 2016. On International Women’s Day, March 8th at 9PM, Nat Geo will air the television premiere of the critically acclaimed feature documentary ‘He Named Me Malala’, completely commercial-free. Those interested to support the cause can donate to the #StandWithAGirl initiative on www.standwithagirl.com » While inaugurating UL Cyber Park, an IT park under the Uralungal Labour Contract Cooperative Society, President Pranab Mukherjee declared Kerala the first digital state in the country. With over 600 e-governance applications covering almost all departments, a mobile tele-density of 95 per cent and Internet covering over 60 per cent of the population with broadband connectivity in every gram panchayat, Kerala has emerged a truly digital state. » To compete with Facebook’s new feature Instant Articles , Google has launched a new open source initiative, Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) that will allow web pages on mobile phones to load four times faster using ten times less data. Google with AMP will speed up the mobile delivery of news articles from a wide range of publishers.

Key Acquisition

ChaiTime-Image04.02.16Microsoft is all set to enhance interaction between people and technology as it has confirmed the acquisition of SwiftKey, one of the most popular keyboard apps on iOS and Android. Microsoft has decided to integrate SwiftKey into its Word Flow keyboard for Windows and keep developing the keyboard app. » Tata Motors has decided to rechristen its new hatchback ‘Zica’, since the name resembles the ‘Zika’ virus which has recently reached epidemic proportions in Americas and spreads through mosquito bites. The car will continue to carry the current name for Auto Expo 2016, the new name will be announced a few weeks later. » At a US Home Affairs committee hearing for countering extremism, Google announced two pilot schemes. “One of the pilot schemes will make the videos discoverable on YouTube whereas the other one is to make sure when people put potentially damaging search terms into our search engine,” said Anthony House, Senior Manager for Public Policy and Communications at Google.

Twitter Townhall

ChaiTime-Image02.02.16The Advertising Club (TAC) and Twitter India in partnership are all set to launch their digital initiativeTwitter Townhall’ on 12th February, 2016. Aimed at facilitating inspiring interactions with industry leaders for young minds, this virtual Twitter Townhall will boost the growth of digital India. TAC with their twitter handle @TheAdClub_India will invite questions on a pre-decided time. Shortlisted questions will be answered by the business leaders every Friday. » Radio City Lucknow has associated itself with the Lucknow Mahotsav which started on 27th January 2016 and will continue till 7th February 2016 at Regional Park, Ashiana, Lucknow. Adding a spark to the celebrations Radio City, through its mobile studio, plans to reach out to their listeners with their evening show which goes live from the venue. » Google has beat Apple to become the world’s most valuable listed company. The company announced a rise of 13% in its global revenue and a fall in group’s tax rate to just 17%.