Newsgathering IS production IS distribution (Model for a 21st century newsroom pt.1 cont.)

How news is produced in a print- or broadcast-only news operation

How news is produced in a print- or broadcast-only news operation

Above is an image representing how journalism has traditionally been done:

  1. You went and gathered your information
  2. You put it all together in an attractive package: the article, the broadcast package
  3. And someone else took that to the readers or viewers

That linear process is pretty much redundant online.

See the diagram below. I’ve found myself drawing this so often recently that I thought I should put it online and save some ink.

Newsgathering, production and distribution are often the same thing in an online environment

Newsgathering, production and distribution are often the same thing in an online environment

The point is clear. Thanks to networked technologies – and RSS in particular – there is no reason why newsgathering cannot also be news production, or news distribution. For example:

  • You bookmark something on Delicious (newsgathering). That is published on Delicious, your blog, Twitter, and/or your news website (see Jemima Kiss’s PDA Newsbucket), and distributed via RSS which can be embedded anywhere
  • You ask a question on Twitter (newsgathering). That is published on Twitter, and distributed via RSS – perhaps as a widget on your blog or Facebook.
  • You film some raw material on your mobile phone using Qik. It’s published on Qik, with an update posted to Twitter too. The video feed is embedded on your blog or news site, and once again RSS distributes it anywhere you or someone else wants.

I could go on, but here are the implications: 1) a web-savvy journalist or news operation will seek to make as much of their activity visible in this way as possible, adding value to what they do and providing numerous access points for users. It’s for this reason I’m a massive fan of social bookmarking (it also makes it very easy to find things you read previously)

2) Journalism is becoming less polished, more iterative and more networked. Broadcast and print do the ‘finished version’ pretty well – online, we’re often happy with raw information, with the emphasis on ‘raw’.

3) As I’ve said before, the journalist (along with their readers) is now the distributor. You cannot leave that job to someone else. The more active, visible and social you are online, the better for your work both commercially and editorially.

Any thoughts? More examples?


13 thoughts on “Newsgathering IS production IS distribution (Model for a 21st century newsroom pt.1 cont.)

  1. Adam Westbrook

    The model definitely needs to be more integrated, but as great as it is to get “raw” information in the form of replies to tweets etc, I still think there’ll be a demand for ‘polished’ journalism.
    The journalists role isn’t just to pass on information, it’s to help us understand the information – and help us understand our world more coherently. Is there a limit to how well Twitter/Tumblr/Blogs can do that?

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  3. Guy Clapperton

    Certainly things are changing and there’s much in what Paul says. What you don’t address, though, is the need for the journalist to monetise the process somehow. I’m happy to be in today’s Guardian, for example; I did a little searching for comment on Twitter and Facebook as well as my existing network of contacts as I now do, but actual publication of the article had to happen through a ‘legitimate’ old-fashioned source otherwise I won’t get paid. And if a tranche of journalists doesn’t get paid then clearly we won’t write any more – then the notion of polished, quality-controlled journalism will fade away.

    This may or may not happen and a lot of people might shrug and wonder ‘so what’ – but I can nearly guarantee they’ll miss it, and the unpolished brigade will start smarting when they get sued for the first time and realise that they need the training the outmoded professionals have had.

    I’ve no doubt changes are happening. I can’t yet get my brain around how we turn the new media into a workable business model.

  4. Jody Godoy

    Aside from the monetary concerns, I’m worried what the conflation of these activities means for the intellectual process of journalism. It seems the reporter who constantly thinks of his or her story as a quick-sell product has a different job than in the past when these spheres were separate. Resulting, as you said, in lower quality, but also making journalism a different experience altogether. I guess those are the breaks.

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  6. paulbradshaw

    It means the journalist cannot act alone, or by deadline, but in a networked, open way. That can make for better quality and more page impressions (more routes to find information), if done right!

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  9. Triston Wallace

    Paul – simultaneous thinking!

    As you were scoping this, I (and others at Skillset) were coming up with a similar model to describe the changes that are impacting on not just publishing but the whole of the creative media sector. I think that the convergening circles – of “newsgathering”, “news production” and “news distribution” (or “Concept”, “Construct” and “Connect” in our model) is the best way to show how technology is changing the financial, operational and IP models of all our industries.

    One area that we may have gone further with is the postition of the audience/reader. I argue that they are now much more intertiwned with both the Concept and Construct phases of media creation. I am not saying that we are all journalists now, just that the audience has a much more effective way of helping shape the content. This may not be a good thing!

    One final point. This model is a great threat to traditional parts of the industry. It doesn’t mean that it’s not going to happen. All parts need to think about themselves as how to make sure they keep their income.

    For more on our thinking please see

    Thanks for bringing your thoughts to my attention, Paul. Good to see others thinking in the same way.

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