The “Day After” Newspaper is here to stay

Nieman Blog picThe Harvard University Nieman Journalism Lab blog included this text with my predictions for 2014.

Here is the full version of this piece with the newsroom model graphic that shows how I envision this future.

Let me know your opinion and experience confronting the multimedia integration challenges faced by our newspapers.

As you can see, I believe in the future of industry, but changes, innovation and new working flows are a “must” if we want to lead the news industry with compelling journalism.

PREDICTIONS FOR JOURNALISM 2014: A NIEMAN LAB SERIES

WHAT’S NEXT? THE “AFTER DAY” NEWSPAPER

Readers are consuming news all the time and print newspapers cannot ignore this dramatic change. We cannot sell twice the same news and get paid for just “commodity news”.

 If you are asking me what are the three main challenges of any newspaper company today, my answer will be:

First, to evolve from mono media companies to multi media “information engines”

Second, to integrate all your editorial and business resources into an open space multi media newsroom.

And third, to re-think and re-invent the editorial models of your print products in this new multi media landscape.

All of them are unavoidable.

The first one must be led by owners, CEO’s and publishers.

The second one needs the understanding and full support of top editors and general managers.

And the third one, the most crucial one, the participation and involvement of all your journalists.

Bosses can rule on vision, strategy, integration and media architecture, but only with all your journalists aboard your company will be able to develop new editorial models.

Why?

Because your editors, writers, reporters and visual journalists came to your company when the print newspaper had an editorial model that for centuries nobody challenged.

Newspaper newsrooms were, and always will be, the “core” of our news business.

They were the best to find, select, write, edit and design news and stories that your readers couldn’t find anywhere else.

For this reason we presented ourselves as “newspapers of record”. Something that, right now, we are not anymore.

As The New York Times says: “We don’t record the news. We find the news”.

A training manual of Financial Times new journalists is very clear on this point: “News reporters do two things. They find the news and they write news. The first is hugely more important”.

In the past, every 24 hours our newsrooms were able to produce a print newspaper with exclusive content and readers needed to pay for our daily selection of the most relevant and interesting news and stories of the “day before”.

But this is a model that has crashed. It’s dead and doesn’t work anymore: “yesterday’s newspapers” are worthless.

Our readers get today almost all the news on real-time: news, opinions and, yes, instant analysis. So they don’t need us anymore. Except if we are able to produce a 100% different, compact and compelling new print product.

They are drinking news from the fire hose and what they are requesting for us is the “day after” newspaper.

A newspaper for well informed readers, not OWNI’s. Not ignorants.

A newspaper for new audiences feed 24/7 by new digital media outlets.

A newspaper for new communities able to share news, opinions and comments in social media networks.

A newspaper that breaks the news online and other instant and real-time media platforms

A newspaper that produces multimedia packages on the spot.

A newspaper that has or will have iPad and Tablet editions, early in the morning, at lunch times and in the evening.

Yes, this is cannibalization at its best and its worst.

For all these reasons, if we don’t change the editorial model, our print product becomes just a compilation of old news, known stories, and heard comments. Dead bodies. Forensic Journalism.

Outdated content that nobody needs, nobody will pay for, deserted by advertisers that will realize that we are losing ground, not having anything new, unique and necessary to buy our print paper.

The answer to all these challenges is, again, what INNOVATION calls the “day after” newspaper.

A post-news, post-television, post-radio, post-online, and post-social media paper.

A newspaper with a daily briefing with the last 24 hour’s news presented in a very compact and creative way, plus more and more exclusive and unique stories produced by entrepreneurial journalism.

A newspaper with more “why’s” than “what’s”

A newspaper with smart and provocative “news analysis”

A newspaper covering new life style and social trends.

A newspaper full of reliable advice: a prescription-newspaper.

A newspaper with “news briefings” and “explainers”

A newspaper with just the most relevant “cover stories” of the day.

Listen to Chris Hughes, Facebook co-founder: “We believe that there must remain space for journalism that takes time to produce and demands a longer attention span-writing that is at once nourishing and entertaining“.

This must be, he says, “vigorous contextual journalism”

A newspaper that will excel on database journalism and will produce necessary “fact checking” pieces.

A newspaper with enlightening infographics, amazing photo essays, and unique illustrations.

A newspaper full of surprises.

A collector’s paper, full of what I call “Caviar Journalism” (www.periodismocaviar.com)

Of course, this new editorial model will need new newsroom management working flows.

A newsroom that works 24/7 in two different speeds and paths: a “fast cooking” digital newsroom and a “slow cooking” print newsroom.

Both of them working in an integrated and collaborative way as our “Conch” newsroom model shows

CONCH NEWSROOM

A “Conch” newsroom interacts with readers, audiences and communities in a non-stop process where “the article” is not any more the final output, but a succession of different formats and reporting styles. In our graphic you can see just a few of them but the list will expand in each one of these “day after” newspapers according the DNA of each company, market and readers.

This requires a new generation of multi media Content Management Systems (CMS), a multitasking newsroom, and planning, planning, planning.

Last year, The New York Times was criticized for its coverage of the terrorist attack in Benghazi (Libya) as in the next day print edition they didn’t published the picture of the American ambassador killed by the crowds (picture that was published in the website the same day of the killing).

So the editors responded in the “day after” newspaper mood:

 “We were not planning to use the photo in Thursday’s print edition The story had moved forward, beyond the point where that photo was as important to the coverage as it was Wednesday morning. Thursday’s paper will be a full 24 hours later. It’s a second-day story now with a different kind of emphasis beyond the immediate news of Mr. Stevens’ death.”

This kind of “day after” newspaper approach is a great opportunity to develop new quality journalism’s like: explanatory journalism, strategic journalism, precision journalism or anticipatory journalism.

journalism’s that cannot be done on deadline.

In this new model, planning is a must.

Perhaps 80% of the “day after” newspaper must be planed at least with two weeks in advance.

More than 20 years ago I was invited by USA Today’s Graphics Director Richard Curtis to attend one weekly lunch with the editors of the 4 main sections of the paper (News, Money, Sport and Life) where each one of them presented the five cover stories planned one week in advance.

The experience, they told us, shows that 90% of the time the pre-selected stories will be published but of course big breaking news will have priority if really happens.

For the same reasons, the front page has changed in a very dramatic way: gone are those font pages of the past with dozens of stories. The New York Times like all the newspaper around the world presented every day a very long “news menu”, but today they try to present only the “specials of the day” and more and more “life style” features.

 A few years ago Bill Keller, The New York Times editor said that “stories about how we live often outweigh stories about what happened yesterday. We think it’s okay to include in our front-page portfolio something that is fun, human, or just wonderfully written. It’s part science, part art, with a little serendipity.”

And he added: “The notion of a Page 1 story, in fact, has evolved over the years, partly in response to the influence of other media. When a news event has been on the Internet and TV and news radio all day long, do we want to put that news on our front page the next morning? Maybe we do, if we feel our reporting and telling of it goes deeper than what has been available elsewhere. But if the factual outline — the raw information — is widely available, sometimes we choose to offer something else that plays to our journalistic advantages: a smart analysis of the events, a vivid piece of color from the scene, a profile of one of the central figures, or a gripping photograph that captures the impact of an event, instead of a just-the-facts news story.”

All these new practices are not new.

The “day before” newspaper becomes the “after day” newspaper doing daily what news magazines were doing weekly.

This “daily-news-magazine” model will follow many existing formulas from leading quality newspapers, newswire agencies, magazines, televisions and online services (see the box).

Keep in mind that many successful weekend newspapers have done this for decades. These editions excel on unique cover stories of “entrepreneurial” journalism.

Our own experience running “after day” newspaper workshops* shows that our on and off line journalists are ready to master this new editorial model and they have enough creativity and experience to transform the new life of their papers.

What they need is time to think, discuss and create, plus some training and new talent.

The good news is that print newspapers are not death, and will not die if we change, as our audiences are changing. We cannot sell twice the same news, and ask then to pay for just “commodity news”. This news business model is dead.

 * Juan Antonio Giner, INNOVATION Media Consulting president and founder (London, UK) is the editor since 1999 of  the INNOVATIONS IN NEWSPAPER World Report (WAN-IFRA). giner.innovation@gmail.com In Twitter: @GINER

Graphic by INNOVATION’s Antonio Martín

Leave a comment

1 Comment

  1. El infierno de la prensa - EScomunicación

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: