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An exploratory journey on the edge of newspaper evolution

It’s alive! May 29, 2008

Filed under: innovation — contentninja @ 3:58 pm
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Ready Position

Image by Thomas Hawk via Flickr

Paul Gillin’s post Wednesday at Social Media Today is a nice string of briefs on innovative experiments in journalism today.

Among others, he highlights the San Francisco Chronicle’s success with user-generated content for money-making niche print products and the Hartford Courant’s reverse publishing of hyperlocal UGC from an online community. (Hmm. Smells like a ninja project.)

Also interesting is the Press Gazette (UK) plan to merge three newsrooms into a platform-agnostic workforce. This is the separate-content-creation-from-product-creation concept. Journalists from the Guardian, the Observer and the Guardian’s Web site will create content for department editors (product managers), who will push it out through various forms of distribution. The reporter doesn’t work for any one product; the reporter just gets the news.

Gillin notes: “One radical concept: Journalists will have the freedom to publish directly to their audiences on timely stories, without the intercession of an editor.”

This is taking the disruption of social media right down to the frontlines. As Clay Shirky argues in “Here Comes Everybody,” institutions were created to manage the output of large groups. Social media tools, however, make it possible for larger groups to manage themselves, thereby disrupting an institution’s management structure. In other words, we may not need so many managers.

Now’s a perfect time for our industry to re-evaluate every process, protocol and structure we have. If we make our newsrooms truly 24/7, tech-savvy places, then we don’t need separate online departments b/c every reporter is living it. And if we’re living in that space with our audiences, we need to talk directly with them, not just at them.

Am I saying we don’t need editors anymore? Not at all, but I do think editors need to get out of the way sometimes.

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