Be the platform, use the platform, syndicate the platfom

A lot of talk about platforms for news these days, no?

A sampling:

Joey Baker at CoPress defines one of the many things that “newspaper platform” could mean to a local news site:

“…taking lessons from Gawker, Slashdot and the New York Times, and aggregating everything. If there’s a story online that’s relevant to your community, link to it. Who cares if you wrote it or not? The idea is to be the source of news. If people know to just come to you first for their information, it doesn’t matter if they eventually click off your site. They will keep coming back to you for more.”

John A. Byrne posts the 2008 “User Engagement Report Card” for BusinessWeek, probably the most impressive magazine site I’ve seen, getting into blogs and what we now call social media early in the game:

(5) Five Questions For…: Spearheaded by BusinessWeek’s Innovation team, this feature encourages readers to submit questions that our staff will ask leading corporate executives and public officials. We select five questions from those submitted by readers and pose them to such CEOs as Bob Nardelli of Chrysler, Tim Brown of the design firm IDEO, Aetna’s Ron Williams and Best Buy’s incoming CEO, Brian Dunn.” [links are John’s, not mine.]

Zach Seward from NiemanLab talked with a developer at the TimesOpen conference who said this about what the NYT could do with its increasingly awe-inspiring package of software for producing online news and APIs to access its stories and data:

“A company like The New York Times, which has a lot of resources and assets on the user-experience and interaction front and also on the content front, could leverage those resources and allow small, local newspapers, small, local media companies that don’t have the same level of interaction and are just playing catch-up but have really good access to content because they’re geographically local. The New York Times could potentially provide or a company like The New York Times could potentially provide a sort of a white-label, maybe hosted solution where, you know, the smaller news outlets could bring their content in.” [More transcribed plus video here.]

I’ve made it a habit to poke friends and peers at the NYT and Washington Post from time to time over the past couple years, asking them when they’ll give those awesome tools to other papers in the chain, or when they’ll push out syndicated infographics for the Web as part of an online wire service the way they might with print.  They usually smile and mumble something about Facebook or embeddable widgets and wander away.

But, the truth is that most of these tools are probably (?) built internally for internal use, and make the most sense when they’re matched up with who-knows-what-sort-of-crazy frontend system for stories and data that pushes content and files around the network inside their buildings.

It’s much, much, much easier to produce the data and open that up, than to get into the business of software development for everyone.

But man, wouldn’t it be cool?  That’s a platform a small news site could jump up and down on.

[via folks like @jayrosen_nyu and @cnewvine, although I might have spotted them from @johnabyrne, @joeybaker, @copress, and in my RSS reader as well. But you should follow all of those people.]

[Full disclosure: I agreed to join the board of CoPress awhile back, I said I wasn’t going to talk about the New York Times so much, and a buddy of mine is an editor at BusinessWeek.]

1 thought on “Be the platform, use the platform, syndicate the platfom”

  1. Too late. It would take a miracle for a newspaper site to be a platform today. They will have to go through the other sites that actually *are* platforms and which have effectively closed off that opportunity.

    Or they could anticipate what’s going to come after ‘platform’ thinking – but there’s no evidence of such forsight in their history.


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