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Google News head Gingras urges rethinking “every facet”


I sometimes feel that people perceive we are going through a transformation from one steady state to another steady state,” Richard Gingras, Google’s head of news products, told the INMA 2012 World Congress on Monday morning.

“That is not the case.”

Instead, Gingras sees a future of ongoing and likely constant “disruption of media.” He provided the more than 300 media executives assembled in Los Angeles with areas to consider.

Unlike when television was introduced and caused the number of newspapers in some cities to drop from four to one, the Internet disruption has almost eradicated the need for print media, according to Gingras.

“More than ever we need to aggressively rethink every facet of the journalism model,” he said.

One major factor in the new dynamic is the connection between audience flow and site design. The number of people who get their news from social media is increasing.

Because of this, companies should be focused on getting more hits on content pages rather than just trying to drive traffic to their homepage. Social media leads users directly to the content itself. By drawing attention to specific stories, social media references can do much more to increase readership.

As for the content itself, Gingras believes both form and style need to be addressed.

“I’ve been seeing much less progress than I would have hoped by now,” he said. The style needs to fit its medium, and organisations may need to reconsider the product they are creating.

He sees promise in what he called “computational journalism,” combining investigative reports with fusion tables and query strings. This partnership would eventually allow for long, constantly updated investigative reports that make an audience feel it is personal to them because it is based on location or other particulars. 

With careful reconsideration of these factors, the news industry can redefine how to connect with the audience and even develop a new architecture for its content, Gingras said.

“I do believe the future of journalism can and will be better than the past,” he said. “In fact, it has to be.”

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