How much information is left out? Why not sell that?
Do you know one reason Wikileaks is great? They just dump all the data. They don’t spoon feed quotes and bites like newspapers do. So why don’t newspapers do a bit of that? Let’s say you get an interview with Bashar Al-Assad. Sometimes it ends up with four quotes in an article. Why not publish the whole interview as an annex? Why not upload the audio, or video, unedited? Why not include the other three or four interviews you would have done, or data you collected? I might actually pay for that.
Newspapers are looking for a new business model without actually changing the way they do business. One thing I’ve learned about the net is that while shorter is better, wider and deeper is better as well. Short is really in the eye of the beholder. It doesn’t mean every article has to be 500 words, it just means that people can pop in at different places and get the 500 words they need.
Most (lets say many) newspapers haven’t even figured out how to do hyperlinks online. How many times do I read articles about a study with no link to the study. I mean, come on, it’s not like someone handed you an envelope in a parking garage. It just means that I have to Google for five minutes and dig through some crappy government website. The Guardian is a notable outlier. Their datablog publishes the data as Google Docs and asks readers what they can do with it.
Other places like the New York Times do data viz sometimes, but it’s usually some flash contraption that you’d have to retype all the numbers for. Government sites, of course, are worse, publishing most everything in PDF. I hate PDF with a passion. Copy and paste is such a basic function, but for PDF it rarely works. I should note that the UN and WHO and the like actually do make data accessible, though using really slow software.
Uh, where was I, right, so the current business model is basically free news. I mean, you’d have to do some pretty damn good writing and editing to beat what’s out there for free. So why compete there? Why compete on the surface, where you don’t have much of an advantage? Newspapers are actually at a disadvantage at packaging news, because they can’t be as close to the reader. They are, however, closer to the source. So why not leverage that?
The difference with mainstream media is that they have teams, they have fact-checkers, they have access to people and data. So why not write your usual article, and then include some data for people to play with? Why not offer the full interviews with every source, if people want a bit more context. I’m not going to pay for your articles, however polished, but I would pay to have access to more information, to have the inside scoop if you will.
Just a thought.