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New York Times to get with the times? Sounds like good news to me!

“New York Times Surrenders To Social News” I love that headline! There’s nothing like a good journalistic ‘the sky is falling!’ type dilemma to pull in the readers.

Is there any truth in the headline? Of course not, but I wish I was one visitor behind the Tech Crunch article with this article.

“The New York Times has decided to let users post stories directly from their site to Digg, Facebook, and Newsvine. As of Monday, the paper will embed links to all three sites to most of their online stories.”

The dominoes are beginning to fall. And for me, everything is going according to plan.

Here’s an excerpt from an earlier post of mine entitled: “When newspapers, ‘blogging, recycling and wireless access meet…”. Posted in September of this year:

Recently, a number of developments seemed to come together in my mind. However, the original spark came about when Thomas Power of Ecademy fame asked the question: is ‘blogging a threat to news or a complementary channel?

One specific question in that article prompted my first response, that question being: “So do the New York Times, the Financial Times, News International and their like have anything to fear from this and from ‘blogging generally?”

To which my answer was:

“I can’t see any of them slipping up, not at this stage in the game.

Plus, they’re mostly offering distinctly different services from each other, so there’s not a tremendous amount of competition.

What I will say is, I’d wager that the BBC are the first in there with a leading [‘blog-based] implementation…”

Latterly followed up with:

“I think the simple answer to the [original] question [in the article] is: both!

If you look at both mainstream media sources and ‘blogs, there will be a higher proportion of ‘noise’ with regards to ‘blogs, simply because ‘blogging is essentially free.

Whereas mainstream media is less tolerant, or should I say, the paying public are less tolerant of poor quality publications. Therefore those that aren’t any good go out of print.

However, of those ‘blogs that garner the heavy traffic, you’re looking at people who know their stuff, so that’s competition, plain & simple.

But then you have the average ‘blogger who rattles out an article with a simple quoted first paragraph and then a link to the full article, that’s just complimentary.

Personally, I think if we dispense with the idea of competition and simply think in terms of convergence, you have something truly monumental waiting in the wings.

What happens when mainstream media publications go web[-based] full-time and allow people to feedback into their articles?

Or, allow submissions from the readers? Articles that better serve a smaller, more local readership, thus drawing in fringe audiences that wouldn’t normally buy in[?]

In addition, you’ve got a dialogue in progress, people are talking, discussing, sharing ideas .. reading adverts!

I see a business model in the making…”

So I didn’t do all that bad, really. When I said: “I’d wager that the BBC are the first in there with a leading [‘blog-based] implementation…” I wasn’t that far off as quite recently, the BBC along with Yahoo! Reuters saw the coming change and made their moves:

Sensing this colossal shift in news coverage and consumption, big players like the BBC, Yahoo! and Reuters are currently moving to make the most of these new on-the-scene citizen reporters:

BBC News 24 has launched a news programme based entirely on user-generated material.

Your News, which began a pilot run on Saturday, will feature stories, features and video proving most popular with viewers on TV and the internet.”

While the main-stay of the ‘blogging community is still largely dominated by what seems to be armies of Japanese teenage girls, there are those at the top with a strong voice, a good word and and two healthy ears that are bringing the news and providing an earthy commentary which is making news coverage a participatory, social experience where anyone can have their say:

“BBC News website receives around 10,000 emails a day with story suggestions, comments and pictures from the public.”

And then who does Time name as personality of the Year? Why you, of course!

“The ‘Great Man’ theory of history is usually attributed to the Scottish philosopher Thomas Carlyle, who wrote that ‘the history of the world is but the biography of great men.’ … Look at 2006 through a different lens and you’ll see another story, one that isn’t about conflict or great men. It’s a story about community and collaboration on a scale never seen before.”

News is about the human story. Whether you’re watching an earthquake consume entire cities, oceans lay waste to towns & villages or politicians send young men & women to their deaths, you’re watching a social commentary unfold through peoples’ lives as seen through the eyes and spoken on the lips of those that are the news.

So it is fitting that after all of this time, we, the humble viewer, now get to add our commentary to those voices more distant but no less vocal than our own.

So well done, you! And let’s have more of the same in 2007…

By Wayne Smallman

Wayne is the man behind the Blah, Blah! Technology website, and the creator of the Under Cloud, a digital research assistant for journalists and academics.

2 replies on “New York Times to get with the times? Sounds like good news to me!”

Great editorial commentary.

What I found most interesting was the fact of the public being willing to pay for mainstream media, whereas they are subsequently less tolerant of poor quality publications.
This is why I believe the traditional and economically strong media’s will continue to flourish, however, not without some healthy competition. As you put it “those blogs that garner the heavy traffic”, which actually do entail a staff of professional’s or specialists in one way or another.

Now I am waiting to hear how that business model is defined : p

Hi Stephen!

For anyone else reading, Stephen beat me to the punch with the Time article, which sort of forced me to re-think my inclusion to not clash with his.

“Now I am waiting to hear how that business model is defined…”

Me too! But I think it’s still early. However, I don’t see any radical departure from existing schemes.

There’s definately more ways to push content to people, what with Google getting into video content, as well NRK, a European operator, of whom I’ll be ‘blogging about later in the week.

We live in exciting times…

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