13. Why do media companies need their own original content? What’s the return on investment for op-eds and freelance content as opposed to original content, produced by our own reporters? To what extent is the value of a media company its original content creation, as opposed to its interface, system of delivery or aggregation of information? What is the right balance between full-time reporters, freelancers and op-ed contributions?

Unless a media company has a large network of experts and commentators on call, for most issues isn’t the probability high that someone who knows more about an issue works elsewhere? How can we get them to contribute their thoughts, and to do so on POLITICO as opposed to other publishers? And if we can’t get their content on POLITICO, to what extent should we point our readers to media outside our ecosystem? How can we best do that?

Think about: Twitter doesn’t have any full-time reporters, yet its platform is consistently the best at breaking news. Reporters very often break news for free on Twitter first — not on their media company’s platforms — and Twitter gets to run ads against that content.

Should our content acquisition strategy be different when it comes to the magazine, as opposed to the main site, as opposed to even Pro? Should we have Pro op-eds and freelancers? As a thought exercise, what if we were to ditch original content completely and focus only on organization and distribution of information? Or vice versa? How would our business model be affected? Does the content we’re setting out to create in Europe and the states already exist? What’s the value of putting all the best reporters under one roof as opposed to just aggregating their content?

In every POLITICO Magazine print issue, we have an “On the Web” section that highlights our best, most viral and/or most popular content since the previous issue (usually on Page 8 or 10). Attached is a list of all the articles from these pages. As a crude measure to shed light on the above question, of the 30 articles, about 23 are written by non-POLITICO staff members (including four by freelancers).

POLITICO Social Media Guidelines

5. You should not break news on Twitter. In the event of breaking news, contact your editor first before taking the information to your feed.

11. Your first priority is to report and write for POLITICO. Do not let your Twitter feed distract you from pushing stories or producing other content.

Watching what happens: The New York Times is making a front-page bet on real-time aggregation

Nieman Lab

Justin Ellis

September 23, 2014

The Times wants to play with that familiar rhythm with “Watching,” a significant new feature on the homepage that aggregates breaking news updates from the Times and across the web 24 hours a day.

…Watching will offer a carefully filtered window into rest of the world of news, all with the NYT stamp of approval.

“I think it’s a huge service to offer readers the best of the rest. We feel our web experience on The New York Times homepage is second to none,” [Times editor at large Marcus Mabry] said. “At the same time, it is not all the information you need as a well informed reader today. To pretend that is silly.”

“We were living in this old-world vision where you thought the only thing worth putting on your website was your own stuff,” [Mabry] said.

This is not the Times’ first attempt at introducing aggregation into the paper’s homepage. Back in 2008, they launched Times Extra, a short-lived experiment that fed automated headlines from other sites onto homepage widgets. … On Bits, reporters use Scuttlebot to provide annotated links to tech stories from around the web. This year, the paper also debuted What We’re Reading, a collection of recommended stories from Times journalists specifically for subscribers. … Arguably the Times’ biggest bet on compiling and packaging stories has been the NYT Now app, which focuses on delivering readers a precisely targeted bundle of news, including a section dedicated to other news organizations’ stories.

New rule: Cover what you do best. Link to the rest

Buzz Machine

Jeff Jarvis

February 22, 2007

Try this on as a new rule for newspapers: Cover what you do best. Link to the rest. … That’s not how newspapers work now. …

This changes the dynamic of editorial decisions. Instead of saying, “we should have that” (and replicating what is already out there) you say, “what do we do best?” That is, “what is our unique value?” It means that when you sit down to see a story that others have worked on, you should ask, “can we do it better?” If not, then link. And devote your time to what you can do better.

Newspapers are getting more comfortable with linking out even to competitors. This takes it farther. It says that the best service you can perform for yourself and your readers is to link instead of trying to do everything.

And once you really open yourself up to this, then it also means that you can link to more people gathering more coverage of news: ‘We didn’t cover that school board meeting today, but here’s a link to somebody who recorded it.’ That’s really no different from saying after a big news event, ‘We weren’t there to take pictures, but lots of our readers were and here they are.’

So you do what you do best. And you link to the rest.

That is the new architecture of news.


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Risky Business: John Harris, Jim VandeHei, and POLITICO: PART A

Columbia University Journalism Knight Case Studies Initiative

By Kathleen Gilsinan


Their idea, [Jim] VandeHei recalls, was:

You give us six stars and six rising stars, and we’ll change the world… And because people already know us, people are going to link to us, and people are going to have us on TV. And it will all be self‐reinforcing.11

Individual brands. By early 2006, … Harris saw more and more writers develop as individuals the kind of influence and large readership traditionally enjoyed only by larger institutions, like the Washington Post. He knew many such writers personally. “The institutional brand you were affiliated with [used to be] the most important thing about you,” Harris observes. Yet he now noticed that “there were people who were developing brand names and franchises to themselves that were quite independent of whatever institutional platform they worked for.” The Web had been a part of this transformation, rendering it easy to read the work of a favored correspondent or commentator without necessarily consuming the rest of the publication in which it appeared.

Among his friends and acquaintances who followed or practiced political journalism, it was increasingly individuals, rather than the institutions for which they worked, whose opinions shaped the dialogue. Referring to Time magazine political commentator Mark Halperin, [John] Harris notes that “[they would ask] ‘What’s Halperin’s take on this?’ Not, ‘What’s Time magazine’s take on this?’”

If institutions continued to decline in influence and importance relative to individual writers, Harris feared, it could be another sign of trouble for the Washington Post.

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