There’s an excellent article in this month’s Wired by Jeff Howe about the impact the internet is having on the newspaper industry. The story centers around Gannett and their efforts to thwart the decline that the entire news world is experiencing.
Having worked for the Kansas City Star at one point in my career, I can personally vouch for the ingrained behavior of the news publication process. The internet is definitely a disruptive technology, and this article paints a very insightful picture on what the news companies must face to continue to operate in the overly saturated information age.
Towards the middle of the article, some of the details of Gannet’s new approach are presented:
At the heart of the plan lie two Big Ideas that are sweeping through journalism circles nationwide: Involve the reader in every aspect of the process, and take a so-called hyperlocal approach to news coverage. In recent years, Gannett’s Cincinnati arm has gone from producing one metropolitan newspaper to producing 270 niche publications, including suburban papers, neighborhood Web sites, and regional magazines. The readers — their thoughts, their half-baked opinions, their kids’ Little League scores — are at the center of them all.
This is the exact same result we have seen with the eNeighbors service. People really do want to know about the stuff that’s just down the street. Yes, it doesn’t matter to anyone else (so there’s no profit in it for the newspapers), but the internet now allows us to focus on a much smaller demographic and still remain cost-effective.
The voice of the masses is definitely getting heard these days. It will be interesting to see if this trend continues or if we will eventually tire of the barrage of average talent and ultimately rely on the professionals for the information that matters most.