Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Lessons from Newsplex -- No. 1

There's a good chance you missed this because "newspaper techniques," the monthly publication from the international publishing research association Ifra, is not something you find in a lot of newsrooms (even though it should be).

In September's issue, Kerry Northrup, former director of Newsplex here at the University of South Carolina (he's since moved on to become Ifra's publications director but remains heavily involved in new media), lists 62 lessons learned so far from the experimental newsroom built two years ago. The article is password protected, though if you're part of a big media group, chances are it belongs to Ifra and you can beg, borrow or liberate the password from someone.

But I think what Northrup says is so useful and important, that for the next 30 days or so, I'm going to summarize the major points, one per day. (In respect of copyright, I'm not going to dump it all here. And I'm not necessarily going to do them in order; I think some are more important than others. But you'll get enough to gain more understanding, I hope.)

So on to No. 1:
Cooperation is not convergence. Convergence ... gives news consumers something more than was available to them before the media combined.
What we often call convergence in this country is not. It's really cross-promotion and news sharing. Even with continuous update desks, those too often operate not as integrated parts of the newsroom but as pods on the side (or across the river, in some cases). There is still too much shovelware. When you begin to even touch on convergence -- and even in Newsplex we have only begun to touch on it in a few cases, such as moblogging -- you begin to see the tremendous challenges in dealing with asynchronous news flow. But that's tomorrow's point ...

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