In yesterday’s article (link) we looked at how the news is evolving. We looked at how professional news providers are changing and adapting to what the future news will look like. The question which remains is whether the news will be delivered through Facebook or some other social media channel or will broadcast media, like television and radio, continue to be the preferred method to consume the news?
The answer is that the platform of the future of news has yet to be created. There are national news and even global news agencies delivering the news through print, television and via the Internet. There are also scrappy upstarts delivering the news or republishing news stories produced by others. But an efficient method of consuming the news that is important to individual news consumers does not exist.
Some argue that Facebook is the future of news delivery.
That statement misses the reality that Facebook is only a stopgap measure to what the future of news is evolving into.
Consumers want news on demand and in the format that they prefer. Some want print, others want in-depth analysis and others want pre-digested morsels delivered to them via video. But most importantly, consumers want the news that matters most to them when they want to read it, not on some schedule.
Facebook and Twitter have given us the ability to get on demand news in a digestible format which readers prefer. But as consumers we are beholden to their policies and their system of delivering what they find acceptable.
The component that is missing is the ability for the individual consumer to create the news feed that suits them the best. They want to consume content they select instead of it being selected for them.
Consumers are missing the ability to have a choice of what topics are important to them. Facebook and other social media deliver content to consumers based on a mathematical determination (an algorithm) of how the consumer has interacted with content on a certain platform. Facebook tracks this data then delivers what they think the consumer wants. In other words, Facebook, although giving the consumer the news they desire, nonetheless filters the content based on the needs of the platform and not the reader. This is done to monetize the reader’s reading habits which are then sold to advertisers, so they can then entice readers to purchase their products.
In other words, Facebook delivers what Facebook considers acceptable to the reader to maximize the desires of their customers which then can influence what they purchase or what they read. But what if news consumers had the ability to demand news they wanted, when they wanted and via a format that is as accessible as Facebook or another social media platform? The influence would then shift from platform influenced news to consumer influenced news based on their needs.
Maximizing the proliferation of smart devices in the hands of citizen reporters sharing news of the events around them with news consumers wanting immediate and unfiltered news gives us a vision of what a future news platform may look like.
It would look like a feed of live news events posted by citizen reporters across the globe as news is happening.
The obvious question becomes, would this create information fatigue? At what point does the feed become noise instead of news? Too much news, especially irrelevant news makes the news feed unwieldy.
The solution to this problem is built on the needs of the customers who want to control what they consume and when they want to access it and how. Rather than depend on algorithms and people to filter the news, the consumer simply clicks, “like” or “dislike” on news items as they scroll by. Over time, the consumer’s news feed is fed by sources that the consumer has indicated they prefer by clicking “like.” Even better is that the crowd sourcing of many users selecting “like” or “dislike” automatically pushes the most relevant news to the top as the noise is pushed further down by each “dislike” click.
An additional function would be the ability to “save” content for future consumption. Currently, if you do not interact with a Facebook post on your feed immediately, you are unlikely to be able to review it later. A “save” function will allow the consumer the ability to come back to an item when they have time to consume it in-depth. This is especially important for complex news items that require more time to review or which the consumer may want to spend more time on. Once the consumer is down with the item, the simply un-save the content thus eliminating from their feed.
Unfortunately, the ability to manipulate content would likely lead to trolling machines selling “likes” to push specific items to the top and others to the bottom. However, the platform can account for this by ensuring that each vote would be from individual consumers instead of automated bots or paid interlopers. A simple process of ensuring each user is real and not automated would solve the problem.
We must also keep in mind that the like or dislike scheme cannot be the only means by which a news consumer depends on to get the content they crave. There must be a mechanism for the consumer to choose niche expertise that they wish to consume and read.
For example, the Alaska earthquake we used as an example yesterday, can be properly dealt with using the voting mechanism to move the best content to the top and the least favorite to the bottom.
But what about complex news items like the Chapo Trial? Many news consumers might not be interested in the trial, so it would be pushed down, thus hiding it from those interested in the trial.
This is where “niche” channels come into play, and this is where the news reporter of the future enters the equation. Consumers interested in the Chapo Trial would subscribe to the Chapo Trial Channel. The Chapo trial reporter would then be able to monetize their reporting directly to the consumer and to the news curators who deliver the day’s news to the consumers who are most interested in those topics. Once the issue is resolved, the consumer can choose to remain subscribed for future updates or they can unsubscribe as needed.
The news content on the platform can be any medium: words, voice, imagery, video or even immersive virtual reality (VR).
The news feed of the future would put the news in the hands of the consumers and democratize the news at the same time.
The news platform of the future will also allow the creation of specialty news channels for topical issues or long-term ongoing complex problems. For example, in El Paso, Texas there exists a controversy between the local government wanting to build a taxpayer-funded multipurpose complex against history preservationists who are fighting against the developers who want to build it. The Duranguito project could be a channel on the platform of the future where immediate reporting on events and in-depth analysis on the various complex court and funding debates can be presented, collated and acted upon by the consumers interested in that issue.
The ability to create channels will be available to the news consumers as they need them. It will be up to those invested in the topic to create the content for the channel. Expert news reporters would provide insight while the anchors of the future would bring the various sources together for the consumers. Activists and the government would also contribute to the news feed, thus enhancing the experience of the consumers.
The future news platform would be driven by the news consumers, but it must also be flexible and nimble to adapt to their needs and be willing to change and embrace technology as it advances forward.