Content content content

In a post at the Knight Digital Media Centre (also posted at the Newspaper Project), Steve Buttry writes about how News businesses must think about content, not just products, to ensure their survival.

The most valuable thing news organizations have to offer hasn’t changed, even though all the bells and whistles have. The most valuable thing they offer is the original reporting, the information you can’t get anywhere else. On top of that comes the commentary and analysis, but you can’t have that without the out-on-the-ground reporting.

Some organizations that are making the belated push to go online are focusing more on all the gadgets and nifty features they can now use, and taking resources away from the newsroom to do this. They’re focusing on trying to make the Internet fit into their organizational structure instead of adapting the structure to the web.

The way Buttry and Gazette Communications are going about it is smarter. He quotes Mark Briggs quoting Tom Peters quoting Visa founder Dee Hock (that’s a lot of quoting!): “The problem is never how to get new, innovative thoughts into your mind, but how to get the old ones out.” The quote continues (just Buttry quoting Briggs quoting Peters here): “Every enterprise (and every individual) needs a formal … Forgetting Strategy. We must be as forceful and systematic about identifying and then dumping yesterday’s baggage as we are about acquiring new baggage.”

Then Buttry describes his forgetting strategy:

So I spelled out the forgetting strategy for our staff, listing some time-honored terms and concepts in any newsroom (starting with the word “newsroom”): reporters, editors, photographers, columnists, deadlines, story lengths, space, gatekeeper, story selection … This had to start with me forgetting and forgoing my title of editor.

Buttry chooses the term “conductor” instead. And goes on to explain how the news will be gathered and disemminated, through “stories, yes, but also bulletins, updates, tweets, liveblogs, photographs, videos, multimedia, graphics, source documents, databases, links and whatever other form is appropriate.”

This is the way news organizations have to start to think.

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