Season two of “The Newsroom,” HBO and Aaron Sorkin’s take on a television newsgathering organization, began again in mid-July, and the drama/black comedy evokes memories of what we once loved about the media: Young, energetic, save the world mentality, obsessed with divining secrets and outing the bad guys. Think Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman, and you begin to understand how (and why) we would rely on the fourth estate to do our digging for us and keep our politicians honest.
Most newsrooms are a lot different today, a generation or two later. Google has effectively become our world newsroom, replacing news organizations’ “morgues” (where old stories rest forever) and even our public libraries as a 24/7/365 repository of past and current information. The invention of Wikis and citizen journalism has further eroded the once trusted relationship between company:reporter and, worse, reporter:consumer.
In today’s newsrooms, there is a lot of rewriting going on. An original story for print gets rewritten for a website, RSS feed, daily newsletter and widget, and then is regurgitated for radio and television news (punditry commonly replacing true journalism). Those same stories and soundbites are then picked up by other websites, rewritten again, curated and redistributed.
If you feel as though you’re reading the same story over and over, well, there’s good reason.
What all this repurposing shows, however, is that original content, content that is relevant, well-written, timely, fresh, and chock full of useful information, has tremendous value to companies and organizations that can afford to create it and then push it out to their customers, clients, and employees. It becomes a way to drive traffic, increase conversion and profits, build brand and differentiate from your competition. If done right, it becomes the heart and soul of a brand’s website, and ultimately, of the brand itself.
The word “news” comes from “new.”
The origin of the word “news” is actually an adjective, “new.”
In fact, online corporate newsrooms need to shift and have the potential to play a huge role over the next ten years.
The trouble is, most companies aren’t thinking about newsrooms or brand-building or even what would be helpful to their customers when buying, building, or writing content. They don’t understand why context is more important than ever, and how Gen Xers and Gen Yers look to community to help make all decisions, from something as small as where to eat dinner (and what to eat once you’re there) to whether to buy a first home or car. And that missed connection may be why companies still don’t understand how to harness the power of unique, original content. And why those that do will leave those that don’t in the dust.