Thursday, November 10, 2005

The Unbundled Newsroom

I urge anyone who works in television news to read Terry Heaton's latest essay, The Unbundled Newsroom. In it, the TV veteran envisions a broadcast outlet of the very near future, one in which updates are provided on-line all throughout the newsgathering process. This shift in emphasis addresses the growing cyber-audience surfing from work and transforms the evening newscast from a 'well-honed speech' into a less formal summary of the day's events. But it won't happen by itself...
An unbundled newsroom begins earlier in the day, and its systems are built around immediate publication via the Internet. That means field crews need tools for directly publishing to the Web, including text, stills, video, blogs, e-mail, cellphones, handhelds, and especially RSS. We need to see ourselves as pushing content at every turn in the creation and development of our journalism. Nothing is too insignificant to justify a departure from this goal.

A single story, therefore, contains elements for publication at various points.

We're pursuing this and why.
Here's what we're finding.
Here's what we've found.
Here's reaction.
Here's our finished product.

Think of these "points" as unbundled bits of media that we can distribute. We're dispatching a minimum of five elements on this story during the day in this model. That's five opportunities for a person to read, watch or listen and five opportunities for us to serve them an attached ad, assuming that's the revenue model we've chosen. Regardless, we're churning out a continuous stream of content choices for people in our community.
As probable as Heaton's predictions seem, most news executives will no doubt consider it heresy. But I believe some form of The Unbundled Newsroom will come to fruition sooner than later. Better technology, smarter consumers, and a breakdown of longheld news-consuming habits make a shift in the information-sharing paradigm all but inevitable. My only question is, where do I fit in in all this?

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