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Friday, February 23, 2007

Exciting news on news

Some cool stuff being reported today on news. By far the coolest is news of Reuters Africa. Not only will this new service cover the continent, but it also seeks to link to external source—bloggers—to help in that process.

Read more here, here and here.

Consider this exchange between MediaShift's Mark Glaser and Reuters President Chris Ahearn:
Glaser: You talk about bringing this in as a resource for reporters and editors. What’s their attitude about it? Does it take a change in mindset to accept that, or do they feel like someone’s on their turf?

Ahearn: I think it’s both. It goes one person at a time. Our online group was involved with everything. It was more the people who were away from the experiment, there’s a level of concern in the journalistic community, ‘Are they out to replace me?’ The answer is no, God no. It’s my job in management and running the business side to ensure that there’s as much choice out there for our editors as there can be to best address the audience.

The struggle here is how do you let the audience identify what they actually care about and how do you mesh that with the two pillars of control. As a brand, I do want to control what’s around me; as a consumer, I want to control everything about my experience. My own supposition is the reality is somewhere in between. One of the reasons newspapers are such a valuable thing or that people lean back and watch TV is that at times people say, ‘Show me, I like that serendipity.’ At other times I want to be very self-directed, I don’t like that on the page.

And later, Ahearn continues:
Going from 2,400 journalists to 24 million sources — that’s a lot of scale and there’s some skepticism, but how might that change the news cycle or the ability of people to make sense [out of everything]. I also wonder how much time is wasted in the rewriting of someone’s else’s copy that doesn’t really change the story or add that much unique value. What’s the obsession with that? I like a world where there’s different levels of news trust and brands and people can mix and match. If you have something unique, then go for it. Everybody is guilty of it, everyone has their unique version, but if you matched them up, how much are they really unique? How much is there overlap vs. a story you really, really need to tell? Can you spend your resources on something incremental?

Speaking of mainstream media and bloggers working together, here's a thought from Jeff Jarvis on reallocating reporting sources.

He argues that big news organizations should be writing investigative pieces about the care and treatment of soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan or North Korea's decision to invite the International Atomic Energy Agency's Mohamed ElBaradei in to the country. What we don't need from The New York Times is front-page coverage of Anna Nicole Smith's death or the public un-glueing Britney Spears.

His advice: "Cover what you do best. Link to the rest."

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