It was once that in the reporting process, publishing a story was once the end.
Get an idea, find a source, develop a story, write and edit, then publish and hope the impact comes from elsewhere. Wrap advertising around the printed product and move on to the next issue.
No longer. News organizations have a responsibility for action to make their communities better. The tools and opportunities and methods for transparency are too rich. The need is too grave.
Want to keep a news organization relevant? Here are a few ways publishing should be seen as the middle, not the end of the reporting process.
- Your coverage should set your agenda — If your view of independent journalism keeps you from having a mission of making your community better, then what’s the point? If reporting points to excessive partisanship, a lack of investor relationships, lack of employment, a failure of broader understanding of an issue, then your organization should be a part of the solution. We either need to bring the mission to the news process or the news process will come to the mission.
- You’re not a news organization anymore — The web makes every organization a publisher, and so, increasingly one with a mission. Our industry needs to understand we aren’t simply in the business of reporting. What is our catering business — the more profitable backend services and products that benefit from our audience? That, too, means publishing is in the midst of the work to be done.
- Your audience should be part of your business strategy — If you can’t make an audience do something, like vote or donate or act, then you don’t have the impact you thought you did. More people isn’t the only focus, but instead curating an audience that is part of your sustainability. There are simply too many chances at connecting audience to revenue, and the news industry is letting them slip away. Publishing is part of that process, but not its conclusion.