jueves, 17 de mayo de 2012

What I do and what I am about

Since 2004 I have been involved in half a dozen newspaper launches around the world, both planning and executing the birth (or rebirth) of these publications. I have also visited a couple of dozen more newsrooms in several countries, being able to dig deep into how they go about doing their work. In the past few years, much of my work has been focused on figuring it how can so-called legacy companies navigate the new digital waters. From ‘integrations’ to ‘digital strategies’, I’ve invested a lot of time in finding the best way for traditional companies to make a transition to the new platforms. I still believe in numbers. I think news coverage requires resources. There’s definitely a business model problem for news organizations, which is mostly global. But my main concern is the lack of ability of new and old news organizations to confront the constant challenges the new digital ecosystem brings, the answer to the question: “What is our role in this new environment”. Part of that is a lack of clarity in their editorial missions. What are we? What will we cover? What won’t be cover? In this new reality – with income in short supply and a 24/7 news cycle that can devour any amount of content – it is not about being everything to everyone but about making tough choices based in what your core audience and competencies are. Sounds simple, but is it? My time at Stanford began searching for a specific, viable project. I wanted to launch “something”, a product or tool. But my prior experience had been that with a lack of tech expertise, being bogged down in a programming feat for 9 months – without me actually developing or programming – would be a waste of my time. The approach was to talk to whoever was willing to give me 5 minutes of their time. But Silicon Valley is a technology hub, not a media or news hub. So my effort was aimed at learning what I could from the energy, creativity and innovation in the area and try to apply it to established or new media companies. At the end of the fellowship I had a fairly broad framework of what a thought a “publication” of today should be like, defining publication in its broadest terms: an editorial voice distributed through multiple content platforms, in multiple formats. The conceptual image I used to develop this framework was that of “fluid news:” information that should take the shape and size the consumer is asking for, based on information consuming patterns. This is not an SEO-driven content approach; is working with the reader to inform them based on their needs and wants, times and consumer patterns, and, also and more importantly, on what they don’t know they don’t know that might enrich their daily life or their understanding of the world. On the ground, having a multiplatform, multimedia operation has specific requirements. Among them is a comprehensive content management system (CMS) that allows for seamless distribution and publication of a news organization’s content in all its platforms, in a two way-street that allows print to also publish what has been uploaded to the web or mobile first. It also requires new work flows, processes, positions, spaces, and equipment. Multidisciplinary work is not only necessary but obligatory. But most importantly, media companies have to adapt to new realities faster, adopting a new early-adoption, quick prototyping mentality that allows failure and lots of trial and error. With so many free digital platforms out there, there is no reason not to. The presentation on this website includes the different elements of the framework, a broad explanation of the concept behind it (fluid news) and a list of the qualities I consider that any publication (in its broader definition) in 2010 and going forward should have. Beyond the list of ideas and concepts, I have funded an innovation and digital journalism agency to help media companies around the world incorporate these ideas and attitudes into their daily work. Rest of the World Media aims to breach the gap between tech and news by assisting journalists in that difficult transition from tradition to the new digital realities of today.