Newspapers produce online exclusive content in hopes of increasing Web site visits and revenue. Newspapers, such as the New York Times, recently started providing information links to additional information next to printed stories. These Web site addresses give readers additional information about the story they just read.
The online content goes far beyond the scope of traditional print journalism, adding more depth to the story. A recent New York Times article on COPD, a leading cause of death in the United States, included an in depth online component with a lot of material that couldn’t possibly fit on a printed page. The additional pictures and video found online give a comprehensive depth to the story far beyond the scope of the printed version. The material for the online supplemental went far beyond paragraphs cut by the editor; the New York Times spent a great deal of time creating additional material for this story.
Unfortunately, finding the time to create a multi-media package for every story is impossible. According to Layton, it takes approximately 10 hours of time to produce a two minute clip. A reporter does not have the time to cover a beat, write up a story and produce an accompanying video sequence for every newsworthy event. News happens spontaneously; reporters cannot create video reports for breaking news stories in a timely fashion. Most reporters arrive at the scene after the event has taken place; very rarely will a reporter be on location for an unplanned happening.
In hopes of getting any additional material, several newspapers now equip their reporters with high definition digital cameras that record both still and moving images. The New York Times gave special training to its employees in hopes of visually capturing more news for online showcasing.
As news companies increase the amount of exclusive online material, the differences between newspaper Web site and a television news site disappear. Both industries will take advantage of the Internet’s capability to bring their content to new readers. In the past, television and print reporters stuck to their mediums because they did not have a method to deliver multi-media content. The internet allows them to delve into whatever medium they would like.
Cross-media ownership, discussed in previous weeks, also lends itself to creating content indistinguishable from one medium to the next. When the BBC’s radio, television and Internet divisions reorganized to form one newsroom that served all audiences, it noted news coverage for each medium would be less distinct. As news industries streamline the process of developing online content, a news company will instantly package a story for all new media.
Once most everyone owns a device capable of receiving a digital version of the newspaper, we will likely see a shift as newspapers print fewer and fewer copies of every edition. This does not mean readership will disappear, but readers will likely get the “paper” on a digital device. I think this digital device will be a smart phone that utilizes e-ink.
One of the current problems facing the wireless industry is a lack of standards. Every cell phone manufacturer and provider uses a different operating system for their phones. This makes it incredibly hard for programmers to design software that will work on all phones. Once mobile phone providers adapt a standard for application development, it will be incredibly easy to make a Web site that works on all phone displays. This standard will also make the delivery of newspapers to phones easy and cost efficient. Google’s open-source mobile software, Android, will likely solve this problem by the end of 2008. Everyone with a mobile device will be able to read the news with little effort.
The mobile device will allow for something not possible on a printed page: video. The video won’t be summaries of the story it accompanies, but an enhancement. We will watch presidential sound bites, the winning field goal, and see footage of the aftermath of a natural disaster. We won’t see a reporter reading a story verbatim from the newspaper, or hours of footage cut into a short vignette. Each medium will continue to do what it does best. Television will continue to produce video news, and newspapers will continue to write quality stories.
I do expect more podcasts or digitally delivered news segments everyday. Instead of getting The Express in the morning, I wouldn’t be surprised if we got a video podcast wirelessly from the local paper the summarized the important headlines in the next five years. The most important factor in this change will be the medium we use to access news. Once most everyone has one, the change will be radical and quick.