The Future of News is Why

It was April 1992 when the Bosnia War started. I still remember, I was young then, that my whole family was watching TV every evening, siting at the edge of our seats, waiting anxiously for the News.

We couldn’t imagine that this would last 3 years. It was the first time one of the first times that people watched a war live on a screen. It was the main topic in the News and quickly became an addiction in our everyday life.

We were interested in the news as facts. Were there any bombings? Did people get killed? How many? Our news update was always related to whathappened.

The same happened with every single piece of news that we were reading or watching back then. People always wanted to know what happened. We witnessed the birth of many News agencies and technology channels that could provide news, boosting the need for more reporters and journalists.

Later, Web 2.0 became a thing and internet penetration soared. Blogging became more and more popular and people started reading news and content written by non-journalists, this led to battles between journalists, editors and bloggers, over content quality.

Nowadays, technological progress has reached a level where a massive amount of people have an incredibly powerful computer, always connected to the internet, in their pockets, and news update are close to real-time.

A few minutes after something worth mentioning happens (and there are witnesses), it will make its way to the public as a tweet, Facebook post, or Instagram picture.

“News is not owned by Media. News is free, as it should always be.”

News agencies and providers cannot (or should not) ask for a fee for broadcasting news, because people won’t pay for something they can find for free. People now can even avoid or skip advertising displayed next to, or within, news stories.

So, what can news providers and agencies do?

  1. Be fast. Try to validate news quickly and report the facts ASAP. Even news should be Agile.
  2. Be reliable. Don’t share news that is not true. Don’t try to alter the facts for any reason, as you’ll lose your audience’s trust.
  3. Be the source of truth. If there is something shared that it wrong or untrue, show it and inform your audience.
  4. Focus on Why. Of course news will always be about what, but now there is way to find it, so you should just focus on making it easier. The main thing people need is a trusted source of why.
“News is not just a ‘fact update’ anymore. It’s a knowledge upgrade.”

Regarding the User Experience of news content, I believe there are 5 important things that any Media company should always keep in mind:

News on social media explained

News should be adapted for each Social Media and audience (see 3. below).

  1. Provide to Social Media based on their “real-time” line, e.g. go on Twitter first. That’s where the News are. There is your audience; and your crowdsourced reporters.
  2. Then, gather the facts surrounding a story and share adapted parts of it, customised for each social media channel.
  3. First learn and understand what happened before sharing it. Learn all about the details from experts and then share as if you’re talking to experts. Readers are not stupid.
  4. Research on why something happened and employ your best storytelling to share this knowledge. People will reshare it and use the story as reference.
  5. People don’t care or pay for news exclusivity. People will pay for added value.

We live in a world with massive amounts of data and real-time news updates. Getting instant ‘real time’ news from around the world is easy, so the what is provided mostly by common people.

It’s the why we should be focusing on.

I hope this approach will make history writing better and all of us more human is the process.

Fresh start


#whatsnext #comingsoon

Things I learned from giving a TEDx Talk

Nassos Kappa - TEDx

I recently gave a talk at a TEDx event. I still remember the first text message that initiated everything. Then the official invitation a few months later and all the steps I went through to give the speech. But, I remember nothingfrom the 18 minutes I was on stage.

Well, I am a fan of the TED platform, I have watched quite a lot Talks and I was pretty excited by this invitation. Actually, as Will Stephen perfectly described it on his awesome in every word TEDx Talk,

(…) you know what? I was offered a TED Talk. And damn it, I’m gonna see it through.

So, without much free time I dived into an intense process of preparing something interesting and hopefully valuable.

My talk title was “Design Living. A series of short stories”. The main goal was to present how design and, in broader terms, creativity is not something that only a few people can do but something that everyone can use (as a compass) to do anything, from solving problems to create things.

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It was well received and I’ll be happy if it will prove helpful for at least one person out there.

The video will soon be available to watch, but I also wanted to share with you few personal notes from this amazing experience I had.

It’s not (only) about you.

You can talk about yourself or someone else, you can do a self-interview or interview another person, you can talk about experiences, ideas, work, awards or even your puppy.

At the very end, all of the above are just a means to tell a story that has to end up in a single solid point. That’s the value of your speech.

Deliver the value.

Sure enough, pretty slides and videos are always helpful and they can boost your speech turning it into a very memorable story for your audience.

Being supported by visuals, though, is not a must. You can go without any visuals since your story is solid and you can deliver it and, please, if they are not good or relevant, better not use them.

Also, you never know what might happen. You may end up with bad projector, no monitor for presenter’s notes, no microphone, no lights, or no coffee. Prepare as if you’ll be talking in an empty dark room.

Public speaking needs preparation.

I’m giving lots of presentations as part of my job, i.e. to clients or in various design conferences and workshops but every time, just before I start, my stomach goes crazy and I feel nauseous.

There only one thing you can do. Practice, get feedback, repeat. There is no such thing as over-rehearsing.

Be yourself.

I know, right? Easy to say, hard as hell to do. You don’t have to be any of those speakers you’ve seen before on a TED talk or like Steve Jobs presenting the first iPhone. You were invited because you are you.

Be that person and have fun!

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Update: the video is now available on YouTube

Real life usernames

There is a famous scene in Breaking Bad, that instantly became a part of pop culture, where Walt White (Brian Cranston) makes a counteroffer to Declan, his competitor drug dealer. Frustrated with having to negotiate with Walt, Declan demands to know who he is. Refusing to back down, Walt insists that Declan already knows his name and demands that Declan says it. Walt informs him that it was he who killed Gus Fring, and finishes with the uber-cool quote “say my name”. Declan resignedly realises and acknowledges Walt as Heisenberg.

This was his ’work alias’. How most people knew him.

I remember the first time I had to travel for a project I was working on as Senior Designer in Tigerspike. I was in a team of three that was supposed to travel to Rome for a three days workshop. All the travel details would be arranged by the company. I had to care only about the project and bringing my passport with me.

I must say that although all my papers have my real name on “as shown on passport”, in my everyday life I use my alias. “Say my name!”; right, Nassos Kappa.

So, at some point, the colleague that made all the arrangements sends me an email to confirm dates and flight information *before* booking (luckily, he is very careful and professional) and the name on all the documents was, well, my alias!

But, ‘why an alias’ you ask? Simplification and efficiency are the reason for me. There are many other well-known examples. Doris Day is a much simpler name than Doris Mary Ann Kappelhoff, Woody Allen than Allen Konigsberg, Louis C.K. than Louis Szekely (an easier way to say his actual last name, which is pronounced ‘See-kay’), Joaquin Phoenix than Joaquin Rafael Bottom (!), Michael Caine than Maurice Micklewhite or Helen Mirren than, wait for it, Ilyena Lydia Vasilievna Mironov.

As a wise unknown guy said once with a meme “Our parents gave us usernames, in real life”. We don't need to stick to those.

Will more people move towards aliases? Will Facebook and other social media and digital services win the war requiring us to provide our ‘actual name’ and data? Will security be a concern for humans this year or are we gonna keep uploading everything without thinking?

Will this post give your answers? No. Just some potential food for thought on the occasion of my name day.