Remember the feeling you had when opening presents as a child?
You didn´t quite know what to expect and weren´t sure whether the Santa, or the aunt, or whoever it was, knew what you had wished for. Remember the very precise feeling you had when you opened the best gift ever?
Guess what. This is exactly the way online news media should make you feel today!
In order to survive, media needs to find out what you want: shorter stories and newsletters in the morning and longer ones in the evenings? Videos and something refreshing for lunch? And when would you like to receive indepth analysis on the hot topic of today?
Long gone are the days when a piece of journalism was a rare commodity and journalists could rely on people coming to them in order to get the news. Crowds would gather around newstands for the papers and the streets were quiet during the TV news in the evenings.
Today people have the world in their pockets, and that world is mobile. There is more information and news on websites, social media and streaming that anyone could ever imagine or need. If a brilliant piece of journalism is published in the wrong place at the wrong time there is a good chance that no one will ever know about it.
I was inspired by the attitude of Marty Baron, the Washington Post executive editor who spoke to our WPI group of journalists. The Post is considered to be part of the ´legacy media´ that traditionally isn´t the quickest one to make big changes. Now the paper seems to be wide open to everything new.
According to Byron it tries to "create an atmosphere where people want to try new things". Washington Post has done some amazing online stories, but has also made wrong estimations on the needs of audience. The thing is to keep trying.
In order to survive, media needs to learn all about it´s audience. This is a neverending process. "Relationship with the audience is never going to be stable anymore", says John Harris, one of the co-founders of Washington-based news media Politico.
There is not just one online audience, there are plenty. Part of the audience still keeps surfing the websites - some only go to news-sites through social media.
The media does not know what people want next. The media needs to keep asking and observing. The media needs to be humble.
There is no lack of online information, on the contrary there is oversupply. Anyone can publish news and "news" online and be an opinionmaker in social media. There just is so much, that it´s getting hard to choose. Which news sites do I really need to follow? How on earth am I going to have the time for it?
Remember that once upon a time there was a profession that was designed for putting compelling content in a nice package? It concentrated on fact-checking and presenting the facts in a way that could be understandable, intresting and beneficial for the audience.
I think we need to constantly keep reinventing quality journalism. I would really like to give the audience the best gift ever. What would you like to have?