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A little more than two years into the job, Knight’s VP of journalism and media innovation may be the second most traveled observer of our industry after INMA’s Earl Wilkinson.

So when either of them share their insights, I tend to listen. His talk to editors at the annual ASNE convention split neatly into two threads: where we are and where we should be headed.

Where we are:

  • Disruption. Think how banking was disrupted or transformed by the ATM machine, and again with mobile tools such as Square.
  • “We lack transformational leadership, [we suffer an] inability to create time and space to work on new things.” As an industry we are still largely averse to failure, to risk.

Maness’ definition of a newspaper, which he fully expected to irk the audience: an industrially manufactured product that attempts to provide complete information coverage of a defined geography, and deliver tonnage of advertising.

Going forward:

  • Human-centered design. Think a quest for a frictionless user experience, no bumps, thumps or hiccups.
  • Don't ask: Observe. Learn from our audiences and customers “in context,” not in focus groups. And deliver news and information in context. Focus on issues and problems, or on unmet needs.
  • The future: Context, verification, filter, interpretation, and curation. Generalism is nearly dead. Breaking news is forever broken.
  • The "article" should not be the journalism unit of measure. The threads of the work are as important as the finished cloth.
  • “If I was starting new:” Find the largest niche communities within your market. Define personalities for the community. Become a platform and resource for talent. Hire folks with passion.
  • The path: Discovery > Prototype > Model > Beta > Scale.
  • Over promote junior tech savvy staff (He cited NPR as one of the few examples).
  • It’s not destination, but distribution.
  • It’s not advertising, but marketing.

This is an abbreviated list of Maness’ insights. View his video above.

Learn more at the ASNE website

Brian Steffens  
Director of Communications


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