If you asked me what are the three main challenges of any newspaper company today, my answer would be:
- first, to evolve from mono-media companies to multimedia information engines;
- second, to integrate all your editorial and business resources into an open multimedia newsroom;
- and third, to rethink and reinvent the editorial models of your print products in this new multimedia landscape.
All of them are unavoidable. The first one must be led by owners, CEOs, 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 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 most of 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, today, we aren’t anymore. As The New York Times says: “We don’t record the news. We find the news.” A training manual for new Financial Times 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 that model has crashed. It’s dead and doesn’t work anymore. “Yesterday’s newspapers” are worthless. Our readers today get almost all their news in real time: news, opinions, and yes, instant analysis. So they don’t need us anymore — unless we are able to produce a 100 percent different, compact, and compelling new print product.
They’re drinking news from the firehose and what they are requesting from us is the “day after” newspaper.