One of the hardest nuts to crack when dealing with newspapers is the general mistrust of chief editors to share their stories with other media within the same company. Convincing them to do so or asking the newsroom to get involved in the online work is a conversation that doesn’t belong to 2010. I refuse to reopen it. We shouldn’t talk anymore about sharing and repackaging content. That’s not the way to solve our ills.
It was almost a decade ago that I covered those topics with the chief editors whom I had the privilege to work with. All of them were proactive and some of them, let me pay homage to Carlos Jornet, have had the intellectual ability and charisma to convince their troops, as well as the organizational skills to do it. But I know other chief editors who are quite different, and this short post (compared to my usual long ones) is addressed to them.
Printing is not the center of our activity. Actually it should be the last step of the process. Yes, I said the “last” step. The very nature of the product means that a newspaper has to include complete information and analysis, which can only happen after the fact (i.e. after the news has occurred). Instead, our users/readers frequently want the information ASAP, even if still incomplete.
Satisfying that need requires a strategy beyond sharing and good will from journalists. It goes further than the convergent or multimedia newsroom. It focuses on our vision of how things happen and how readers find out about them in the real world. Then, we just act accordingly and repurposing and repackaging will come naturally.
One important way of doing it right is understanding the time sequence of news. At the end of July I’ll be in North America talking to a proactive media player about, among other things, this topic. I have prepared for the occasion a slide that I want to share with my readers.
I hope it can convey in a synoptic way the importance of having the time sequence right for media groups. I will not dwell on it since it is self explanatory. The reality cannot be apprehended in one slide and the casuistic nature of content formats and timing can be infinite. Still, it tries to offer in a simplified and visual way the importance of delivering news in the right media order. Band aids, as I mentioned in my first paragraph will not make it. Play by the customers’ rules.