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News for the tech sector already reflects the future of news 1/14/08

Posted by Steve Boriss in TechSector.

If those in the tech sector are more comfortable with technology than those in other sectors, wouldn’t it make sense that today’s news business within the tech sector (e.g. PR firms, reporters, online news, trade journals) might give us a glimpse of the future of our news? Yes, but this did not occur to me until after my podcast interview last week with tech PR gurus David Strom and Paul Gillin.

Sure enough, the latest edition of David Strom’s Web Informant reveals two elements of my vision for the future of news. First, the tech sector is seeing the elimination of the middlemen of news — the people in the supply chain positioned between the most knowledgeable news source on one end and the editor/aggregator who packages this information for an audience on the other. Not only does this place the reporters’ role at risk, it also weakens the value of standalone PR firms that do not have the expertise of clients’ in-house talent. Second, the tech sector is undergoing news outlet fragmentation, with a multitude of outlets covering a multitude of technical subtopics for a multitude of specialized audiences. The economics of the Internet no longer requires news outlets to reach a minimum critical mass to, for instance, publish a magazine. The lesson for today’s PR firms and reporters? Become an expert or become an editor.


1. Brian H - 1/17/08

Not sure I’m buying. It assumes that only specialists are interested in the particular area’s developments. But there are two other important audiences (at least). One is other potentially related specialties, where cross-fertilization of techniques or specific findings is being recognized as increasingly valuable. The second is the informed public, including sci-tech junkies and generalists. It is less and less possible to survey original sources or specialized publications and sites for info, both because of proliferation and because of the density of argot used therein. There is still a major role for surveyors, summarizers, and linkers. IMO.

2. Steve Boriss - 1/17/08

Brian, I think we are going to see a lot of experimentation in this area until the right mixes are in place, driven by the marketplace. Some news will only be of interest to specialists, and those sites will exist. In many other cases, there will be news sites with larger audiences that mix specialists with generalists. Moreover, each of us will visit multiple news sites, perhaps with the assistance of aggregation tools. In regards to “surveyors, summarizers, and linkers,” I think that these, in fact, will be the new news outlets, which I call “News Associators” here.

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