news:rewired - “It doesn't have to be all new, all of the time”

 by Martin Belam, 20 December 2010
“We often beat ourselves up in this industry for being behind the curve” - Joanna Geary

I love events like news:rewired for sparking lots of ideas and conversations, joining lots of dots within the industry, and generally re-kindling enthusiasm for doing digital news.

There can be, though, a tendency for people to be a bit downbeat about the business side of things. Molly Flatt observed that: “From the tone and energy of most of the speakers you’d have thought the arctic chill had come early. Maybe they were going for ‘calm and authoritative.’ It mostly came across as ‘bored to be here, bored to be talking about this and bored by you.’ ... It’s amazing how persistently unfashionable enthusiasm is in the UK.”

In fairness, I don’t think she can have been in our linked data session, where the future was all shiny robots, hover-cars and jetpacks.

Sarah Booker inspired to tweet about robots and hovercars

But the quote at the top is from Joanna Geary’s keynote on the day, and I think she makes a valid point. Despite our business pages reporting on a whole series of vertical industries struggling to cope with the advent of the digital revolution, we seem to single our own out for special abuse.

How many times have I seen it pointed out that newspapers didn’t invent craigslist, when it has eaten into the classified business model that papers used to own? I think, fair enough, but then, it wasn’t invented by estate agents, car dealers, or the people who print the cards that go into newsagents’ windows either, and they’ve all been impacted too.

I really enjoyed the day, and there were a lot of great topics at news:rewired, but I think it is important not to come away thinking “oh no, we are doing everything wrong, and all of our journalism now needs to be a 360 degree interactive game featuring linked data, optimised like crazy for search engines, with a serving of online community on the side.”

Time permitting over the next couple of days, before I shut the blog up for a little winter hibernation, I hope to be posting up some of my notes and thoughts from the event, starting with that filthy-minded SEO session...

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