April 8, 2009

New Journalism's Content Cascade

Interesting ruminations about a journalism model focused around the notion of a 'content cascade.' At its heart are wiki-like active repositories which is the vibrant heart of content.

I have long believed that wikis are an extraordinarily powerful tool very much underutilized. But I have been disillusioned and frustrated by the reality that so many people still believe the Internet is email and therefore fail to embrace many of the advantages of the other powerful tools. The 'social networking' phenomena may change that. Perhaps it's mostly a generational thing and the twenty and thirty-somethings will easily embrace the content cascade.

In a journalism/news organization, this makes a great deal of sense. Out of frustration a couple of months ago I recommended the idea (online, of course) to the executive editor of our local daily newspaper. Background information on a topic could be continually built into a wiki and the online consumer of 'a story' or opinion piece could follow links to relevant supporting facts and background. Local examples: wind power in Vermont; Vermont Yankee nuclear plant license renewal; Vermont agriculture, et al. The story of the day could then focus on today's news and the background stuff could be linked.

This is no panacea for the troubled newspaper business, but seems worthy of serious consideration.

Monetization of the online distribution of content, certainly is THE issue and this fellow at Harvard skips gingerly over that.
"Obviously, the thorny and perennial question of “monetization” is absent from this discussion. But the advantage of the content cascade is its efficiency and its multiplying effect on page views: reporters don’t labor over 20-inch yarns when a 10-word blog update will do; content from all over the web can create page views on a local site; readers contribute content; each drop in the stream (OK, there’s a basic unit for you) can be repurposed almost indefinitely into new content niches. The resulting vibrancy of the news site draws maximum traffic; let the marketers monetize the value of that."
Information may 'want to be free,' but the people creating it for a living must somehow be paid.
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