Multimedia news organisations or purely online outlets – which has the most sustainable model? This was the question posed in this morning’s panel discussion at the World Editors Forum. But before the debate could even begin, the question itself was quashed by Raju Narisetti, managing editor at the Washington Post.
The idea that one of these models is more sustainable for the other is a false choice for those of us in traditional media. It isn’t like we can just dump that and go to the purely online model. It’s an issue of legacy and mindset, the legacy is we all have fairly profitable newspapers to manage in addition to what we do online. We have to embrace the legacy and deal with it, we can’t walk away.
Comparing the models of each newsroom he outlined what he perceives as a different mindset behind online-only ventures which contrasts with that of traditional media.
Most traditional journalists talk about themselves as gatekeepers telling readers what they need to know. Some feel our job ends once we publish. But the online players have a very different mindset, their DNA is different. Their speed is not once a day as some of us are used to. They don’t think of themselves as gatekeepers, more like gate openers. They are much more metrics focused. (…) But there are different standards (…) I am happy to be held up to a higher standard.
Speaking next was Benoît Raphaël from LePost.fr, a news site subsidiary of Le Monde. He explained the theory behind Le Post’s model, which features news curated and aggregated from other sources.
You have to write about the most important topics of the day, so this means that 80 per cent of your newsroom are rewriting news stories everybody else is already writing about and that users can find in real time on Facebook and Twitter. So we felt the best service was to curate these stories from the media and web and then save time for unique stories. Users can help you as you don’t always know how to write stories, but they are experts in their hobbies (…) and this helps us to collect and then add value by finding the angle.
Speaking to Journalism.co.uk, he added that the model of digitised content is the future for all newsrooms, regardless of the platform or tools used to present it.
You have to focus the production of the news on the digital world, so you have to digitise all of your newsroom and then you can display it and organise it using different tools. A website is a tool, a newspaper is a tool – it’s just an offline browser.
The good question is how can we learn from each other.