Monday, December 21, 2015

New journalism, new practice

A recent seminar organized by the Sciences Po school of journalism with contributions from top Anglo-saxon actors showed how quickly the news scene is changing.

A master word is engagement. What worries major operators like the FT or the NY Times is the time spent reading the messages or watching a website. If a user retweets a piece of news without reading it, it is a total waste for the news provider. With the growth of mobiles that make now 50% of the audience, the risk is even greater. It is why the Instant Articles proposal from Facebook can be attractive. Facebook customers get the best articles from their favorite newspaper in a few seconds. If you don't wait for the loading, you have a better chance to read the text. However, some French operators like Le Parisien are reluctant. They criticize Facebook for providing very few data on the readership and data are more and more the future of digital media.

Google, Facebook main competitor has fully grasped the challenge. According to the head of their German research center, they start delivering for free very interesting data on most consulted keywords. British newssites received such a collection of data during the last British elections, a good way to assess the topics that interest the voters. Everybody knows that the social networks are fully informed about the behaviour of their hundreds of millions of customers, a precious  piece of information for news operators who lack the means to collect these data. It is getting more and more obvious that the delivery and the engagement for the news will have to rely on the all powerful social networks but as we know too, there are no free lunches. A big question: how the media will keep their freedom if they depend more and more on world giants.

Robot journalism is also on the list of priorities. In France, le Monde and le Parisien relied on the algorithms provided by the start up Syllabs to cover the last regional elections. Some editore are thinking of using them also for sports coverage. It will be another revolution in the newsroom even if it should allow more time for journalists to do indepth reasearch.