Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Newsrooms Should Learn From The Obama Campaign

Simon Owens of, after reading Berman Post: Obama Ads in Your Video Game, sent in this tip.

Major newsrooms should be paying attention to the Obama campaign, and not just politically. With newspaper circulation in virtual free fall all across the country, we could soon see and end to newspapers as they have existed from the times of the first printing press. The idea behind the article is than newsrooms should start a rapid expansion of platforms. They have to bring the information to their viewers where ever their views may be going. Failure to do so will result in the natural loss of those viewers and a decrease in the newsrooms influence. This can of course create a spiraling decline. As influence decreases, ad revenue falls, cuts backs are forced from a lack of funds, which further causes more decreases in influence.

The article points out that Obama being flushed with an unheard of amount of cash for a political campaign can expand every where all at once. Newsrooms without as much free/spendable cash may be forced to expand more slowly. Still, they should start expanding, and some of the expansion options are relatively inexpensive.

"That's an important lesson that every newsroom should learn. During the past year of research for The Next Newsroom Project, we identified six principles that newsrooms should adopt. One of those calls for newsrooms to embrace all platforms. It's not enough to simply say, "Hey, we want to be online first." Instead, think about how to use all platforms equally: mobile, the Web, print, broadcast (radio and TV). And be ready to experiment with any new ones that come along, including video games.

It's critical that a newsroom understand its community, where they are, the different ways the get news and information, and how they consume it in those different ways. For our project, we spent some time exploring this notion in Second Life, where we built a version of our newsroom. We learned a lot through the process, including the fact that our target community (students at Duke University) wasn't spending a lot of time in that environment. And so for now, it wasn't a platform where we needed to invest a lot of resources.

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