Bruno Giussani (via his blog) reports from a Wired story by Jeff Howe on the fact that Gannett Company, one of the largest US newspaper publishers, “has decided to implement by May a radical reorganization of all its newsrooms, renaming them “information centers” and structuring them into seven job areas or divisions.
This reorganization has four goals:
- Prioritize local news (including hyperlocal) over national news
- Publish more user-generated content
- Become 24-7 news operations, in which the newspapers do less and the websites do much more
- Use crowdsourcing methods to put readers to work as watchdogs, whistle-blowers and researchers in large, investigative features.
Many people have commented on the announcement but Jeff Howe, Wired writer and blogger, thinks “some of the most astute commentary came from Robb Montgomery at The Editors Weblog: “the key to me is recognizing that databases are the gold mines fueling the business models in this scenario and how well they are structured, mined and managed will be one of the keys to rolling this plan out. … I like how the values are focused on investing in community participation in a never-ending feedback loop. … Look, what Gannett is really trying to do here is build a new model around their key assets – customer data – deep, local customer data. News, community and marketing data.” ”
Jeff ends by noting that “in discussions with Gannett reporters and executives there was a marked focus on how best to utilize little league scores, neighborhood watch information and potholes. In other words, “deep, local customer data.” Gannett calls this “hyper-local” news.”
What it means: I completely agree with Bruno Giussani that the most interesting elements of the announcement are: i) the fact that Gannett is going to be focusing on hyperlocal information (where there’s a big gap currently, see my post about lack of neighborhood info) and ii) the crowdsourcing elements. Newspapers currently are (or used to be depending on who you’re talking to) at the center of the local action. With massive media groups and cost-cutting operations, most local information for second-tier cities is exactly that… second-tier. Newspapers have the opportunity to recapture that role but they have to hear the alarm ringing.
Harry says: It’s back to the future. Hyper-local is how the news first began, the business matured, papers consolidated, hyper-local became regional… and less relevant. Note to the MBAs driving the change at Gannett; thinner margins ahead! You still need real journalists to corral and verify the journo-citizenry plus you’ll need web-savvy folks to do the back office stuff.