Breaking the ”news as a commodity” mold


Loads of information,lot of talking,lot of noise. Well, it, sure, is very desirable when you want to get different opinions about the death fast of Kurdish people in prison,want to check-out what Paul Graham says about Yahoo’s growth or come across with an amazing story about Robert Alexander, a data sonification specialist who challenges the question of how the sun sounds like.But, this desirable sphere is vanishing.  Now, the raising voices of people are turning into noises.

 As a reaction to the turmoil of information, ‘quality’ of the news is put under question. Newspapers now want to produce better content, be more unique. In the bottom line, differentiation becomes the new cool but it is difficult when everyone offers the same thing.

 Let’s take New York Times’ Pay wall system. My classmates Alice, Carlos, Vanessa, Carrie, Mariana  and Camilo made a really good presentation in our design thinking class last week.  There was a huge  decline in NYT’s revenues & subscriptions and pay wall system is thought to be the lifesaver for the newspaper. But the core question of their presentation was ‘ Is this a good idea for the long term?’  It wasn’t.  As they explained, NYT assumed people would be willing to pay since the newspaper has a team of award winning columnists. Users expected to find something unique, something they can follow and relate to. But the pay wall lacked uniqueness.  In bottom line, as my classmates pointed out, NYT made a mistake mixing  the consumer value and editorial value.

 Similar case with Newsweek too.

Yes. The media revolution is changing the old mechanisms of the profession. Yes. Media itself and the content they provide are being commoditized. But is it really working? Do they meet the demands of the readers?   Same with breaking news. The newspapers are in a competition of giving fastest, the most credible news. They put their words out there and spread  via social networks. In Limited time, with fast delivery, packed commoditized news… But doesn’t it prevalue creativity at the same time?


Now as audience we are in a position to determine to choose what to read, based on the performance of the newspaper not the promotion. It is not going to work for us If A newspaper tells us about  their new payment system or how unique they are. On the other hand, this doesn’t necessarily mean there aren’t any good news portals like Yahoo and Aol or quality journalism initiatives like Matter. My point is that, readers are in charge now and it gets hard to convince when you are not special.

I think, this is where ‘branding’ comes in. Brands have philosophy, a cultural identity. They have distinctive personality to inspire millions and have the power to move societies which I think some newspapers are lacking. In this case community managers have a key role creating this identity, engaging with people and growing the brand while growing with the input of the people.

P.S. Regarding my post, I highly recommend investing 17 minutes watching this talk of  Seth Gobin.


2 thoughts on “Breaking the ”news as a commodity” mold

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