Why newsrooms suck at digital first

“Newspapers as a distribution system just aren’t equipped to handle news as a process; printing a single version of a news event with no links and no updates (until at least the following day) fundamentally doesn’t make sense in today’s news environment. Looking at the news from a logger’s point of view — as an amalgamation of Twitter and Storify and video and photos, with comments and updates and links — makes a lot more sense, but it doesn’t translate well into a print-focused culture.”

Mathew Ingram

This is a hard one to get in practice. News as a process or a series of increasingly rich layers takes more effort, more thought and more accountability than write once and print tomorrow.

The typical newsroom’s tools to accomplish that goal, it’s editorial system, is generally horribly designed to accomplish the task.

Newsroom editors need to ferociously embrace digital first (the required culture change) and demand investment in systems (the requierd technology change) that do that well.

Doing digital first well from a technology standpoint would include posting online, handling social media posts and sending text messages, tracking revisions and managing multimedia and web elements such as links, videos and social media comments  as the primary purpose with the use as in a printed format as a econdary use. (Or, to be brief: Stand the current systems on their head.)

This idea is far from radically new, but I haven’t seen a newsroom content system that even begins to meet those needs. I’m sure I haven’t seen them all, but I have seen the dances of several of the major players in editorial content management systems marketed to newspaper chains. The vendors may be slow at evolving or they may just be giving the customer what she says she needs with specs based on what the newsroom is doing instead of what it needs to do.

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