If the front page ain’t what it used to be, then how does a journalist get a story on those new front pages? First, accept that the reader is the now the front page editor. Then, make sure your editor knows when you’ve created a new piece of content, and why it is worthy of front page consideration.
- Twitter: Add a tweet button to your story and create content that people want to share with their friends.
- Facebook: Add a “like” button to your post and create content that people want to share with their friends.
- Search: Make sure your stories include words that people might use when searching for the information that you’ve provided, and create content to which people want to link.
- Text (messaging): Create content that people want to share with their friends.
- Tablet: Create content that people want to share with their friends.
- RSS: Make sure readers can easily subscribe to your RSS feed and create a stream of content to which people want to subscribe.
- Time shifters: Add a “read later” button and create content that people will want to read later.
Oh, and make sure you know in which publications you want to appear, and don’t write to appear in other publications. In old school terms, don’t write for Playboy if you want to appear in the Washington Post.
People use the internet to get only the news they are looking for and nothing else, which presents a challenge for big media companies that have traditionally sold news and advertising in bundled formats (newspapers and broadcast news programs, for example).
But the internet did not kill bundled news, it just changed how those bundles are created. Where editors once selected the contents of news bundles, a modern information consumer use technologies that produce bundles based her choice of sources, topics of interest, interactions with that content, and recommendations from friends.
- RSS readers like Google Reader allow people to subscribe to only certain sites, or specific topics from a site.
- Personalized homepages like My Yahoo are bundles of customized informational widgets that display news in a more visual way than RSS feeds.
- Social networks like Twitter and Facebook constantly stream a bundle of news in the form of text, links, images and sounds shared by friends.
- Tablet apps like Flipboard bundle links being shared within a person’s social network into an interactive magazine.
- Web apps like Paper.li bundle links from social networks in a similar fashion to what Flipboard does for the iPad.
- Mobile apps like My6Sense bundle news based on how you’ve interacted with previous information.
- Human aggregators like Matt Drudge continue to bundle information in a unique way that appeals to a wide audience.
- Hybrid aggregators like memeorandum use human editors to help bundle content for niche audiences that has been selected by an algorithm that considers signals from the blogging ecosystem.
So how/do traditional organizations fit into these new bundles? Should they continue to provide bundled content on web sites? Should they continue to provide advertisers a way to reach the audience of that bundle? These aren’t rhetorical questions. They are real puzzles that have been discussed for years now. I’m still not sure if there are many clear answers.
Here are some important posts about the unbundling of news:
Image courtesy of Liz West via Flickr.
Embedly is an incredible technology that converts links into embedded content. The screenshot above shows how Embedly’s Parrotfish plugin (for Safari, Chrome and Firefox) works with Twitter.com to convert a shortened URL into an actual excerpt from the content on that page.
Storify and other so-called curation tools (see my What is curation storify) use Embedly, so I’m very excited about this and any other embedding technology, but I wonder how publishers who rely on on-site display advertising feel about tools that basically allow people to view some or all of their content without actually visiting their site.
What should publishers do about embedded content? Here are some crazy ideas.
- Accept that people get content in new ways that don’t involve visits to your site.
- Thank Embedly for building attribution, with links, into its API.
- Understand how to leverage embedded content to build your brand(s).
- Embed advertisements directly into your content.
- Figure out other ways to generate revenue.
While I was thinking out loud about how Paper.li might look if it ranked news based on how I interacted with them, Tac Anderson suggested a marriage between My6Sense and Paper.li. To that, My6Sense’s Louis Gray replied that his company’s benefit would be “to be the Web’s personalization broker.”
Take a look at any Paper.li paper — my J Daily for example — and imagine if that page changed based on how you interacted with each item.
- Stories written by a certain author could rank higher if you frequently read her posts.
- Articles from a particular site could rank lower if you rarely clicked on those links.
- Links shared by some friends could rank higher if you frequently clicked on them. They might be called “favorite” friends.
- Links shared by friends of favorite friends could rank higher because of their association.
- If you frequently retweeted links from specific friends, that friend’s links could rank higher.
- Maybe pictures (but not blog posts) shared by one friend could be ranked higher because you often click on them.
- The whole page could be ranked with consideration of my interactions with the My6Sense mobile app.
Note that I don’t actually know the details of My6Sense’s algorithm, so these are just my own crazy ideas.