Wednesday, April 13, 2011

How To Do News Online: Think of News as Data

Thomas Baekdal‘s critique on what newspapers did wrong in their approach to online news has attracted a lot attention. I think his suggestions also apply to us broadcasters if we want to develop a strong online presence.

Forget the limitations of on-air broadcast

“Newspapers need to stop thinking of news as an article,” Baekdal said, “People do not want a format. They want news.” Likewise, broadcasters also need to stop thinking of news as a audio or video clip with text. The Internet has no limitation on distribution schedule either. “Everything is now!”

Think of news as data
The wrong way to bring news is to create 170 articles and just post them on your website. That just wastes people time. There is no way to differentiate between topics, get the bigger picture, or dive into the details.

Instead, think of news as data. Some news, like the analysis and the insights, are perfect as an article. The stream of news, as the story develops, is perfect as a live stream. The rumors and speculations are better as a list. The quick overview is best presented like an illustration.
Here is a nice example of how that could be done for a complicated big story.

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