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 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?
- Be fast. Try to validate news quickly and report the facts ASAP. Even news should be Agile.
- 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.
- Be the source of truth. If there is something shared that it wrong or untrue, show it and inform your audience.
- 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.
Regarding the User Experience of news content, I believe there are 5 important things that any Media company should always keep in mind:
News should be adapted for each Social Media and audience (see 3. below).
- 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.
- Then, gather the facts surrounding a story and share adapted parts of it, customised for each social media channel.
- 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.
- Research on why something happened and employ your best storytelling to share this knowledge. People will reshare it and use the story as reference.
- 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.