News Platform

News Platforms is what you are looking out for every day: A single-point-of-reading that gives you the information that you need for the day (or above). But what are the means that makes a platform desirable to a news consumer? Heidi Cohen has identified the three Cs of what they want from news:

Customized. It’s tailored based on individual needs, interests, location, political views, and other factors.
Curated. It’s selected by a combination of professional news editors and one’s social graph. This serves as a lens for which information is viewed and from what perspective.
Contributory. It’s enhanced and modified by the addition of opinions and sharing of information through various forms of social media (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and comments).

To deal with this abundance of information, adults in developed countries have developed a new set of routines. These habits are important for the marketers who want their message to get though the clutter and be understood. This side is well understood by Ms. Cohen. More importantly for news in general, it is not the sheer abundance of information that matters. Journalists and Editors/Publishers have to focus on the information elite and build up the trust, so that quality matters. We have millions of journalist, but only a few are capable of really writing good stuff and differentiate between facts, commentary, meaning or opinion. Usually that is all amalgametated in the headlines. What would be important for publishers from my point of a view is a philosophy that is close to what the Economist does. Their news is:

a.) important, the news really changes things
b.) reliable, the news is no boulevard fake
c.) honest, the news is not a corporate news feed that serves PR
d.) well written – concise, elegant and to the point
e.) embedded – in a wider enviroment, what does the news mean in a systemic view
f.) up to date – not days later. Seconds do not really count, for quality we can wait some more minutes.

The last rule is where the Economist certainly fails to its own measures since it only is a weekly paper. But that can be abandoned by the Internet offer they make – publish the article when it is ready and pay per view or access for a monthly fee to all articles – but do not focus on printed paper and wait until 100 pages are done.

A dream? “Individual News Kits for everybody”

While some friends of mine were on a plane they sat next to the secretary of defense Guttenberg while he was reading his news kit. They were overwhelmed by the service he was getting as part of his duty. Several people had scanned all the important papers and magazines, collected articles and highlighted every single word that would be important for him in the most concise and brief way. This service is for the elite – but cannot IT make it available for everyone at a low price such as a monthly fee ( say 5$ bucks). How you may ask?

Actually it is not that difficult to achieve. I’m dreaming of a web site that is a mix of, Alltop and the NYT on the User Interface Side, but that is able to aggregate the content of papers such as New York Times, Wall Street Journal, the Economist, FAZ., Neue Zürcher Zeitung, etc.  The luxury of being individually curated should be done by algorithms such as Amazon or Google use: The User will be getting the news that he is interested in plus the essential news everybody should now (e.g. you will get the main news in the computer industry, but still you will be informed about a new 9/11). On top you can have a editorial collector service, that will help you build up your information cockpit and/or highlight what you may have missed or should potentially know for your future – put on top some algorithms for Twitter up-to-the minute searches, graphs that highlight sources of information and you will certainly master the information overload. Same story for business – you could perfectly combine the platform and tailor it to industry news updates. Even the press would or could like it, since you can use the monthly fee to crosslicense content.

You think these services exist? I don’t know any of those that can really match my goals, RSS for example are often only increasing the overload since the importance is unclear and not edited. Newsletters are too many when they hit your mailbox and Google News is closer, but has not managed to get a legal business model outside of “brainfuck”-add placement. Here is my idea for free – entrepreneurs of the world, got, get it done!

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