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Executive Report - By Thomas Baekdal - August 2013

News as Data and the Future of Newspapers

A couple of months ago an editor for a big newspaper asked me: "If I were to start a newspaper from scratch today, what would I do?" My answer was that I wouldn't. At least not in the way he defined newspapers.

When I look at the trend patterns, I believe that in the future what we define as news today will be split into three completely different areas. One is news as data, the other is news as investigative reporting, and the third is news as insights, perspective and know-how.

In this report, I'm going to explain what this means, and how dramatically it changes the role of the newspaper.

News as Data

When we talk about news as data, many people will think it means 'big data', the new buzzword that is flying around pointing to the promised land of yet to be defined data. And while the concept of big data is very interesting, it's mostly interesting for big-data companies, and not so much for newspapers.

You see, the very concept of big data is that its purpose is to explain itself. It's hugely interesting for analysts, but journalists cannot really contribute much to it. Then we have the notion that journalists can use big data to 'do something', but big data is a long-tail concept, and most newspapers focus their stories on the short head.

So I will leave the concept of big data to another time in another report.

When I talk about news as data in this report, I mean the shift that we see from news being reported by people, to news being reported as data.

Let me give you three examples that illustrate the shift:

Cruise Ship

Remember back in January 2012 when the cruise ship Costa Concordia ran aground off the coast of Tuscany Italy?

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What is Baekdal?

Baekdal is a magazine for media professionals, focusing on media analysis, trends, patterns, strategy, journalistic focus, and newsroom optimization. Since 2010, it has helped publishers in more than 40 countries, including big and small publishers like Condé Nast, Bonnier, Schibsted, NRC, and others, as well as companies like Google and Microsoft.

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Thomas Baekdal

Founder, media analyst, author, and publisher. Follow on Twitter

"Thomas Baekdal is one of Scandinavia's most sought-after experts in the digitization of media companies. He has made ​​himself known for his analysis of how digitization has changed the way we consume media."
Swedish business magazine, Resumé


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