I read 2 stories today that I think illustrate an important lesson for newspapers to remember:
- Advertising Age: “AOL to Hire ‘Hundreds’ of Journalists, Reorganize Content Division” ( http://mtn.bz/cnrfTY)
- Mashable: Google News and Why Human Editors Still Matter (http://bit.ly/b8sF0S )
In the first case, AOL has discovered that they can monetize content they create and control far better than content from outside their organization. To that end, they are investing in new people to create content that people will read. With an audience, AOL believes that advertisers will buy their sites.
“We have insights into our audience, and can produce content they want, which leads to engagement, which leads to what advertisers want,” said Jeff Levick, president of global advertising at AOL.
In the second case, Google has started an experiment to use human editors from select partners to select stories for their readers. Previously, Google aggressively worked on “magical” algorithms to sort through the tidal wave of content coming from web-sites, media, twitter, blogs, and hundreds of other sources to identify what you, the reader, want. Dozens of tools exist on the net to help filter the news feeds with varying degrees of success. To quote the article”
Although social media and other web tools have enabled users to personalize their news streams, the ubiquity of content has created an echo chamber that some readers are trying to parse through to find not only what they want to know, but the news they “need” to know as well. This is where human “editors” and curators play a crucial role in helping readers filter through the noise.
For years, newspaper did a great job playing the role of “filter” in their communities. As the Internet exploded, this job became more difficult. With increased content choices, people moved online to get their news and information and away from newspapers. With shrinking circulations and ad dollars, newspapers laid off employees (many journalists) to reduce costs and invested in more “canned” nationalized content that is no longer unique. As newspapers become irrelevant, the web is looking to fill the primary role that newspapers once filled.
On one hand, newspapers should be investing in unique compelling content that their “community” wants. On the other hand, they should invest in resources to filter the content coming from blogs, twitter, and web-sites and package the best and most relevant content for their communities. (This is probably another blog posting in itself.) Suffice it to say, if newspapers ever serious want to consider paywalls (another post at some point) or increased advertising CPMs (yet another likely post), they will only succeed with unique and compelling content.
That’s my thought…What’s yours?