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88. Newspaper’s Shift in Focus (Mar 2009)

88. Newspaper’s Shift in Focus (Mar 2009)

With the number of ideas thrown out about the ways that newspapers can be saved, it almost makes you wonder what it would look like if the newspapers put some of their own advice into practice. Seeking Alpha adds another suggestion to the list, newspapers should focus on reinventing themselves through context.

“A really valuable data asset that newspapers retain via editorial systems is… context. One could even extend this value to historical narrative. Unlike social networks where history is a mere 3 years at best, and content portals where history is at most 10 years, newspapers have the potential ability to seamlessly link today’s breaking events to literally millions of local and historical events, opinions, and commentary that are decades deep.”

Newspapers not only provide us with news but they archive it. I took a look inside these archives earlier in this story and what I discovered is that Ron Shuttleworth (who wrote this article), might just be onto something. Newspaper archives can give us a more complete picture of our history than any other medium. They were published every day, from multiple perspectives, all across the nation. If you look at any story within the framework of the news articles published around it, you can get a deep understanding not only of how that story really happened but more importantly how that story might effect similar events in the future.

Ron continues,

Newspapers could be the gateway to context for online users, however they interact with information, or each other. And the technology is there. Nstein has some advanced web content management solutions that can help newspapers create context on the fly. It has the ability to extract and index meaning from any article, advertisement, or caption. The system can then connect the meaning of multiple articles to deliver narrative and insight on-the-fly. This is pretty powerful stuff, and could represent some value-add that only a newspaper editorial system could deliver. Hearst became one of Nstein’s biggest clients last year as it got serious about re-inventing itself.

Newspapers have always been in the volume business, the more they produced, the better off they were. This has left them sitting on masses of rich content that they are looking at only in the most shallow way, as archives. Maybe the future news product isn’t simply a rehashing of what is happening today, maybe it’s an insight tool that will give people context where now they only have datapoints.

Google has been trying to help bring some context by scanning newspapers and making them searchable, listen to Marissa Meyers describe it in the clip.

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