[note: this is a slightly edited version of a post I published on Quigo’s blog, so if you read both, go ahead and skip this]

Yesterday I posted about the newspaper industry being in it’s ‘horseless carriage era’. The first newspaper-related idea I want to discuss is one I call Permanews:

Historically, news articles were good for roughly 24 hours, after
which a fresh news*paper* was delivered to the reader. But the events
reported as news aren’t usually confined to that 24 hour cycle – they
can go on for weeks or months sometimes (a recent example of this is
the war going on in Israel and Lebanon which has been going on for over 3 weeks now).

However, it seems that the short news cycle paradigm, originally
dictated by the fact that news was printed on paper and was fully
replaced after a day by a new paper, should be revisited when the news
is being consumed online. When I read the latest news item about the
war on Hizbollah, it’s assumed that I have perspective of all the
information that preceded it. But that is a false assumption in 99% of
the cases. Online publishing therefore shouldn’t be confined to the
limits imposed by the print side of the business.

The idea of Permanews is to evolve the way rolling news events are
covered using the tools and publishing capabilities that online
publishing provides us with. A Permanews article would be in a way
similar to a Wikipedia entry – constantly evolving and being updated.
The Permanews item for a given subject will become the anchor for all
new breaking news associated to that topic.

In the example above, the Permanews article may give some historic
background about the history of the past Lebanon-Israel conflicts, maps
of the region, the timeline of the war, related events, photo gallery,
related videos, etc. The breaking news articles will continue covering
specific events and developments, but only the ones that are
significant on a broader level will be updated on the Permanews

A Permanews section can easily be maintained using one of the many
wiki apps available with multiple contributors constantly editing it as
needed. The cost of doing this is practically zero.

The advantages of Permanews items may be great for a news organization:
– First of all, content that has long life expectancy tends to attract
many incoming links, and therefore much traffic. Just like mostly all
mentions of books on the web point to their respective Amazon page, and
most “referencable” mentions point to the correlating Wikipedia
entry, a newspaper can attract incoming links from other websites to
its Permanews articles. This is difficult to achieve on small articles
with a life expectancy of several hours.

– Permanews can also be great for getting indexed on search engines
for the same reasons (long life span, lots of incoming links).
Wikipedia would not have been among the top-20 sites in the world had
it not been for all the natural search engine traffic it attracts.
Newspapers should be the similar traffic attractors for developing news

– Permanews can also serve as a great differentiator from other news
sources and aggregators. With more of the articles being syndicated
from AP and Reuters (=same articles appear on many news sources),
having a Permanews section can growingly becoming a useful
differentiator in the eyes of the readers.

– Permanews, like op-ed, can provide the added value the users
cannot get when they consume their news via news aggregators like
Google News.

– Lastly, Permanews can be an easier sell for advertisers who are
normally concerned about advertising alongside future news of unknown
nature. An article that is more permanent (even if frequently updated
and tweaked) is a much easier and safer sell.

Like the idea? – go ahead and Permanews it!


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