It is official: more people consume news online than from newspapers. Print is failing to compete with the saturated blogosphere. While the value of digital media is evolving, the blog network is still disorganized and fragmented. The need for staffed, credible and organized newsrooms has never been higher.
Print outlets have not sufficiently adapted to the Internet. It should not be as simple as porting text to a webpage – your platform (the computer monitor, mobile device, etc.) is completely different than newsprint. Few people enjoy reading on their monitors, want to load full paragraphs of text on mobile, or feel sufficiently engaged by content on the ever-interactive tablet form factor. The format of digital news presentation needs to be completely re-imagined.
USA Today became popular because it had a higher volume of images than other newspapers. While a picture may be worth a thousand words, it lacks quantitative and qualitative information essential to quality news reporting. Incorporate graphical representations of story information and a healthy dose of interactivity into images and you could have something really special. I call it the “Newsographic.”
I have been very impressed with the New York Times coverage of Japan’s tragedy. On top of diligent email updates and consistent reporting, they continue to introduce extremely informative interactive features and multimedia presentations that paint a more vivid picture of the event. You can find some of their newsographics below:
- Map of the Damage
- Before and After Satellite Comparisons
- Accident at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant
- How a Reactor Shuts Down and What Happens in a Meltdown
- How Shifting Plates Caused the Earthquake and Tsunami in Japan
Data visualization hit the Internet mainstream with a vengeance. Unlike text blocks, infographics are more inviting, quicker to consume, and can help make complex information easier to interpret. Bringing imagery to life with a layer of interactivity enhances the reader’s engagement with the material tenfold. Top a visualization off with live updating power and you have yourself a very powerful news medium.
Newsographics are the future. Unlike most individual blog authors, larger news organizations have the talent and resources available to generate these presentations. I am convinced rich multimedia will be the only way major outlets can stay competitive in this arena. The tablet is a perfect opportunity for newsographic-only sources to stake major claim in the news market. I still think major news companies have a place in the media landscape – but they cannot rely on the written word alone. They must evolve.