Archive for May, 2011|Monthly archive page

The odyssey of news

In Uncategorized on May 2, 2011 at 6:57 am

World moves at a fast pace. Things happen anywhere and everywhere. It is nearly impossible for the news reporters to be at all these places at the exact time of the incident. Often, they reach the spot ‘after the fact’ of the incident. This model worked in the old days when people relied on print media and television to garner information. However, in today’s world, information travels at gigabytes per second if not more. Internet is (nearly) ubiquitous. It is also a great forum to post news and your views for free. Thus, the users become first-hand reporters of news. The shift caused by internet users reporting news has a major impact on the news industry. Here is why:

  • First, the users are the first to market. By the time the news agency catches up, its no longer ‘news’. The word is spread already. People watch news to get additional information that they cannot gather from ‘tweets’.
  • Second, my hunch is that there is a preference to hear firsthand information. This is different from listening to the standard and nearly unchanged form of media reporting.

Internet has changed the dynamics of traditional news. It has now become both the source and destination for many news agencies. The news industry is going through a transitional period. As with any change, some handle it well and others struggle. Consider for example the incident of 9/11. Tourists’ video camera captured the first images. As we fast forward nearly 10 years later, the twitter community had the potential to know that Bin Laden was dead. The form and shape of information has evolved over the decade. Given that this has been established already, then why do news agencies write articles based entirely on tweets? If I want to read tweets, I know where to find them. I don’t need a news agency for that.

With the changed dynamics, the news agencies should take information from the internet one step further and expand on the incident with detailed and authoritative analysis. They have the capability to provide the history, the current incident in the context, and its impact on future. Very few agencies do that. Consider The Economist for example. They are not the first to report the incident on print. However, their analysis makes it worth my while to read. They circumvent the need to be ‘first to market’. On the other hand, news agencies that still have their strategy set to old standards struggle for information. The desperate need for information drives them to reprint tweets and copy other news agencies.

This transitional period for the news industry determines who leads the pack and who follows. It is time for the news agencies to revisit their strategy and evaluate how they want the next decade to be. Their role has changed from news reporters to news analysts! They can be assured that with the pace of technology, the medium will change. Whatever solution they come up with needs to be broader than factoring in youtube and twitter.