Recommendations for Digital Journalism from "The Story So Far"

Digital JournalismEarlier this week we posted an interview with Bill Grueskin and Lucas Graves about their book, co-authored with Ana Seave, The Story So Far: What We Know About the Business of Digital Journalism. The book examines the practices of news organizations as they grapple with the changes to business models brought about by the advent of digital journalism.

One of the key adjustments news organizations must make in terms of making digital journalism viable from a business standpoint is to embrace the unique attributes of the Internet rather than trying to adapt Web offerings to legacy business models. Below is a list of other recommendations the report makes:

* Digital platforms should not simply repurpose existing news content. They should feature unique, high-value content designed specifically for digital media.

* Media companies should redefine the relationship between audience and advertising. Journalists must better understand their existing and potential audiences, and strive to ensure deeper loyalties.

* Media companies ought to rethink their relationships with advertisers and gain a fuller appreciation for how advertisers now reach their customers via social media, new-media ads and search engine optimization.

* News and marketing companies should move beyond the impression-based pricing systems that dominate online advertising, and forge new models that integrate digital ads and social-media outreach.

* Media companies must restore content value to digital advertising and move beyond the decades-old relics that convey little information or appeal to consumers.

* News organizations must balance vigilance about content theft with the realization that most aggregators operate within the bounds of copyright law. They should accept the fact that this generates value for readers, and develop thoughtful approaches to understanding what topics best lend themselves to aggregation.

* Integration of a legacy division—news content or ad sales—with new media is not for everyone. Larger enterprises should consider creating separate digital staffs, particularly on the business side.

* Any news site that adopts a pay scheme now should have very limited expectations for its success—at least on the Web. Requiring digital readers to pay may help to slow circulation losses, but that is hardly a long-term solution. A pay plan merged with an ambitious strategy to improve users’ experience on mobile platforms has a much better chance to succeed.

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