All of that is well and good, but it still means publishers are behind, since all of those steps should have been taken more than a decade ago. Would real digital change in a more aggressive manner have stemmed the advertising, circulation and ratings point losses suffered by legacy media?
Who knows? It’s more than fair to say that earlier action wouldn’t have hurt.
As legacy media makes its structural changes, it’s forgetting a major component. It needs technologists, and it needs them fast. The science of content delivery is evolving, and there are few people — if any — in traditional news operations that have a firm grasp on what’s happening.
Content delivery involves using available devices to get content to users when they want it. In order to be successful, newsrooms need people who not only understand how these devices work, but how they can more effectively use them to push out the content their users want.
I encourage you to read Quartz’s outstanding story on how smartphones are changing the way content will be produced and consumed. Content is no longer a story written by a journalist because he or she thinks the topic is relevant. Content will be topical based on where a person is at any point in his or her day, whether it be stuck in traffic, emerging from a subway platform on the way to work, or drinking a nice cabernet at the end of the day.
For example: Who, in your organization, knows how to use location data to pinpoint where your audiences are, and deliver information based on that knowledge? That, to me, is the single most important issue content producers face. It’s no longer good enough to simply produce the content; you have to get the content to audiences where they are.
The paradigm has long shifted. People no longer find the news — the news finds people.
What do I mean by that? In the long, distant past (like, 15 years ago) audiences still, by and large, waited for their newspapers to be delivered to their doorstep, or turned on their radio for the morning drive, or went home and waited for the local and then national news to be broadcast in the late afternoon/early evening. People had to go find the news. Now, with push notifications becoming ubiquitous, news finds people based on their content desires.
Instead, many publishers are still experimenting with content in a 2010 way (I say 2010 because that’s when the tablet era began). Many are still trying to determine what works best on mobile vs. tablets, what works best at what time of day and whether certain content should be long-form, short-form, or strictly graphically displayed. Instead, they should be focused on the impact technology has on content, and react with the speed of a technology company — not a legacy media company.
That’s why every news organization needs a technology guru who understands the latest technology and content’s relationship to it.
Content is no longer just about writing. It’s about delivering what people want — fast.