The birth of networks

Out of the dire need to cut back, news organizations are at last looking out and forming networks. Newspapers in Ft. Worth and Dallas are going to share news. Newspapers in Ohio have been doing that. Now TV stations in Philadelphia are setting up a separate company to make video.

It’s a start on a model that I think will be important in the regeneration of the news industry. And it’s a short step from sharing with fellow news organizations to sharing with independent agents in the public (starting with your own former employees who set up blogs and then working with blogfers).

Sharing will replace syndication, I think. That’s why I’m not confident in the success of CNN’s effort to set up a new wire service to compete with the AP, Reuters, and AFP. It might work for international coverage because it’s hard to share content with a source in another language and there’s a vastly different base of shared knowledge. But domestically and locally, I think that sharing and reverse syndication (a la Political) will win the day.

Piece by piece, new models emerge.

  • There’s “sharing” where organizations that can effectively stand alone come together for their mutual advantage — and the advantage of their users — and each bring something to the whole.

    Then there’s “merging” where organizations come together so tightly that they lose the ability to function apart.

    Sharing is a good thing but merging, while it always looks great on paper, is rarely in anyone’s best interest. Often the product created by merging is no better that what the individuals had while apart.

    We tend to confuse the two.

  • Thanks for sharing these “small wins” with us, Jeff.

    … it’s a short step from sharing with fellow news organizations to sharing with independent agents in the public (starting with your own former employees who set up blogs and then working with bloggers).

    That first sharing step seems to be a particular challenge: there’s “Not Invented Here” syndrome in every industry; I’ve personally never experienced it more strongly than with news organizations. As resources dwindle, any expended reïnventing wheels your neighbors in OH and TX have built already is misspent.

    These wins you mention should point the way.

    Again, thanks.

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  • What’s good enough for Baltimore, is good enough for Barnsley…

  • We’re starting work on this stuff in Alaska. The AP up here is dismal. But we have a head start on a network with public radio reporters. The only problem is that everyone up here is a little… well… backward in their thinking. They want to hoard the news just inside the noncommercial realm. This is asinine in the new world we’re entering, but even more so for a nonprofit mission-focused organization. If your mission is to report / to tell stories, then don’t you want the most possible people hearing them / seeing them?

    There’s a notion that we can’t let “others” have “our” news because we want to lock people into listening to OUR station. News flash: the people listening to country or hard rock radio stations aren’t the same audience tuned in to public radio all day.

    Anyway, thanks for the post. People have to start thinking differently about sharing and networks. News is a commodity to be shared. Real value (revenue) will come from relationships and palpable public service.

  • It’s kind of stunning that this only now has come into the minds of newspaper executives.

    I think either model can work, and it’ll boil down to execution. That’s the name of the game on the web.

  • News organizations looking for quality and depth in the links they offer their readers should really look at Publish2.

    Scott Karp has put together a solid idea for journalist to collaborate in finding the best news links the web offers and serving them up in a syndicated fashion for news sites to share.

    Disclosure: I’m a Publish2 advisor, but I wouldn’t be if I didn’t see this as a potentially valuable service for news organizations.

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