The future of news media

[Keyword: , , , ]. reports on the imminent relaunch of technology news website ZDNet UK which will “put social networking at its core”. At first glance, it’s easy to dismiss this as another organisation jumping on the MySpace bandwagon, but look a bit deeper and we may be seeing a window into the future of news media, beginning with a new type of editor:

“ZDNet UK plans to create a new post of community editor – a hybrid marketing/editorial job – to moderate discussions, grow the community and create a dialogue with the readership.”

But what is also happening here is one outcome of the movement towards reader empowerment, where the reader not only contributes to, but actually makes the publication:

“We will still have our lead stories giving people an overview of what is going on because we have got a dozen people on staff monitoring the industry,” Matt Loney, ZDNet UK site director, told

“But equally a big part of this redesign was to let the reader decide what they want, how they get it and to give them more control over that because if we don’t do that someone else will.

“We have always let people interact with the website to a degree, but now what we are doing is allowing people to log in and collect all the stuff they need together; it’s like a MySpace for geeks.”

“The technology news provider, which currently has more than two million unique users every month, will now have a free subscription feature in which users can blog, track discussions and set up alerts on new postings based on author, subject matter and keywords.

“Features also list the most-read, discussed and popular items on the site as well as highlighting readers’ contributions by drawing attention to the talkback [reader’s comment] of the day.

“It is intended that the community editor will spur further debate and encourage the readership to bring its collective knowledge to the site though comments, forums and blogs.”

Looking (much) further ahead, in 100 years time will newspapers and, more likely, magazines have transformed into online communities of interest? Facilitated by editors and fuelled by specialist journalists, yes – but with the focus on the conversation, not on the articles.

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