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“Newspaper business models are struggling. Changing patterns in readership, advances in internet technologies and the development of competing businesses are all contributing toward these difficulties. The business model for newspapers has not changed significantly over nearly 300 years. Spatial technologies offer the possibility to signficantly alter that business model, enabling newspaper publishers to become more adaptive, creative and integrative in nature. These technologies also provide the potential to understand the world’s news better, quicker and more widely, thus becoming more attractive economically.”



Changing the nature of news
In The Guardian newspaper this week Rupert Murdoch, owner of News Corp states, “the current days of the internet are over.” That in reference to the fact that free delivery of news content is about end, and to be replaced with a newspaper business model that includes charging.

Time magazine writes about the newspaper meltdown in a recent article “How to Save Your Newspaper.” The article points to the fact newspapers are now being given away freel, thereby destroying their underlying business models. In Der Spiegel, in the interview ‘ This Year Will Bring a True Sea Change’ with Jeff Jarvis the point is made that readers are moving toward new forms of news information services.

The issue is heating up and something is about happen. It is in the air. But what?

Newspapers have traditionally followed a top-down model, delivering professionally gathered information in an authoritative fashion. They have done this for 300 years, acting as gatekeepers to the world’s information and news and filtering it accordingly.  But this is changing, particularly as younger people develop new forms of information gathering and sharing, developing their own trusted sources and avenues for acquiring daily information. An analogy can be seen in the geographic information field as new forms of cartographic maps and associated products are both created and used.

Linking news and knowledge
We are awash in information. The traditional models of delivering information in addition to individually created information are overwhelming people with information. Small snippets of popular observations, random notes, internet indexed strings of stuff here and there, are all slowly increasing the available sources of information, but adding less and less dependable and useful information.

A key point to newspaper publishers information lies in the fact that much of their professionally gathered information lies in archives, both in analog and digital forms. It forms the record of the world’s heartbeat over time. Yet, much of that information is forsaken in daily news sources for more topical, timely information and that oriented with a 24 hour news cycle. Yet, a quick search of information at any given time results in thousands of pieces of information, many of them through news wires and services, all similar in tone and content.


True, the planet’s content needs to be distributed widely. But the focus seems to have been on distribution while people are actually thirsting for, and desirous of, content that helps them to separate the wheat from the chaff and to understand the world better.

This is no simple task and demands the integration, synthesis and processing of information into articles and content that would essentially change the way news is reported. Indeed, in writing this blog the content veers at times to topics that would appeal to a wider audience, recognising the goal is to integrate the technical with thematic to achieve a growing goal. It also recognises that readership drives a process that is constantly evolving awareness.

Spatial technologies can provide a unique opportunity to engage readership in newspapers. Whereas most articles are searchable inhouse by author, title and topic, spatial information technologies further support these options through locating place and temporally, though time.  This has important and critical opportunities for authoritative news sources because suddenly the ability to write, based on time and place, can be used to enrich and constructively enage readership into context more effectively.

The newspaper of tomorrow
The news suddenly becomes more than a string of random notes and pieces of observations to more structured content that links the pieces over time, and by place into wider panorama’s of reporting. News can then become 3D and 4D in content and even project into the future, later to be followed with identifiable and aligned content.

The question to be asked today is, “does the current form of offering news have significance to you?” This implies more than the method of online charging or not. It goes directly to the content and the ‘product’ being offered for sale.

There is no reason to think that young (or otherwise) people today are any less interested in the world around them today. Rather, they starve for informative and useful delivery of the world’s information. That is the goal.

We are overwhelmed with technology optimised news, but far less touched by integrated and synthesized information that is structured in a way we can grasp it, understand it and utilize it for further understanding the world’s issues.

Spatial information technologies have a key role to play in creating the messages and news and delivering them.

And – I would suggest that people would be willing to pay for these changes.


News Corp will charge for newspaper websites, says Rupert Murdoch

Out of Print

How to Save Your Newspaper

This Year Will Bring a True Sea Change



Note: This column alternates weekly between Vector1 Media editors. Jeff Thurston is editor EMEA-Russia for V1 Magazine and V1 Energy magazine.  





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