Five criteria for the flourishing of news entities of the future

Late at a bar in my neighborhood, a friend asked me: how are you innovative?

His general assessment was that Technically Media, a consultancy, and Technically Philly, a news site, weren’t particularly innovative or interesting for 2011. We’re an online-based startup of 20-somethings creating journalism-fueled content. That might barley bass for envelope-pushing in the late 1990s.

Sure, we think editorial strategy — in which all organizations create content to build audience to have impact — is interesting, and that’s a big part of what we’re doing, but I wasn’t satisfied.

So I’m going to share what I came to: the five criteria of news entities of the future.

Upon greater review and conversation, I think there are five areas we as a company are moving toward, as are others, that makes interesting again the conversation among news producers. It’s worth noting, that though I cherish greatly lessons from the old vanguard of journalism, this is something largely unrecognizable there.

Five criteria for news entities of the future:

  1. Content — News, information and, yes, even journalism builds audience. Have an audience — loyal and targeted or of relatively large size — and you have impact, when you can move them to action. [Audience building]
  2. Data — Metrics on audience, influential data regarding your coverage/mission, tools that utilize these and other subjects to influence action will be incredibly key. The battle for data is underway. [i.e. working with city data and collecting your own]
  3. Engagement –News needs its audience to act. This will mean getting people into a room for events, to learn, to interact, to bring about change and action, and to help fund it all. It also means recognizing that everyone is a content creator and the only value of a news entity is to curate and create bigger audience. (In truth, even that middle man role will likely be lost, but it will carry on longer for sure) [i.e. Convening a major, region-wide collaborative series of events around your community]
  4. Action — My friend asked: “Did the newspapers coverage of impropriety change it?” No, then there is no real impact there. News entities of the future must spearhead action to improve their communities, whether it be through existing mission or organizing an audience or leveraging its voice. [Pushing forward what city data will come out in addition to coverage]
  5. Mission — This is where Technically Media fits, in that I believe most any organization of influence should be interested in this space of audience building. But still, even news entities from other veins will need a clear mission to have an impact. The un-impassioned doesn’t build audience in a competitive environment, and it also doesn’t make our communities a better place to live and that has to be relevant again. [What is your purpose?]
  6. (Sustainability) — This seems to almost go without saying, so I didn’t list it, but yes, news will need a strategy to succeed and sustain. Diverse and different revenue streams for each, from shared foundation  support, to memberships, and events and related work and tools and so many more I don’t even recognize yet. I want to stress that I don’t think this is what is new anymore, these methods are there, it just involves breaking down barriers of the past. Indeed, we just need to find the catering business to every news entity.