Middle-of-the-night thoughts on news

I read the NY Times all the time these days. It used to be just in the morning, or when I had some idle time during the day. I often would take the paper to breakfast or lunch. I don't do that so much these days.

Because I'm always reading it, maybe that's why it's so disturbing to see all the chaos behind the curtain at the Times. It sounds like it's falling apart. That's not great. And then it occurs to me that the entire news industry has been heading to this cliff, almost as if they figure at the end they'll get a reprieve. Perhaps government funding, or an idea will come from nowhere and magically save the day. That's not a good plan. I've seen people try that, and it generally doesn't work, in real life.

I wonder why they don't move more in the direction everything is going? As soon as Twitter proved they had a good mechanism for news delivery, which was an idea that was available to everyone, every news organization should have started their own experiment (because Twitter always has been just an experiment, maybe the news people don't see that). It's still not too late, and there's nothing to lose. Let's remake the NYT home page as a river. It will work a lot better than the current home page, and it will also attract interest from the world. And it can be iterated in so many ways. Not just technically but with content. Rivers should be seen as editorial products. A news organization should create a river just like they create an editorial workflow. It's the equivalent of that, but on the visible side of the curtain.

BTW, most of what I read from the Times comes from the River which my software generates for me. This really should be a page on the NYT website, probably the home page. It's the Twitter view of the NYT (without Twitter).

Also, start some noteblogs. Develop stories in-place as events take place. Make it so a reader can come in for a snapshot at any time and get caught up. There's lots of experimentation going on in this area. We should all be playing around with ideas.

Structures of news. Think of it that way. We've invented some new ones -- blogs, rivers, Twitter, Facebook, podcasts, chat, eBay, AirBNB, WikiPedia. The list goes on. There are still more to invent. It's all worth doing.

But most important, the reporters should show us how they work -- teach us how to do what they do. I know this may seem counter-intuitive, but it's on the path to the future. We'll teach you what we know too. We need a lot more of everything, because there's so much more happening. No one knows where this leads, that's why it's so much fun!

Last built: Wed, Jul 9, 2014 at 11:23 AM

By Dave Winer, Friday, May 16, 2014 at 2:55 AM. Reallll soooon now...