Breaking News: Context Rules

I’ve written before about how the Associated Press crafted a digital strategy in 2008 to reflect the changing online news marketplace.

Well, they’re at it again. This time, as PR consultant, Lou Hoffman relates, they’re mapping out how to achieve success beyond breaking news. A memo by senior managing editor Michael Oreskes outlines how the AP should embrace “journalism that’s more analytical, maybe a fresh and immediate entry point, a move away from text, a multimedia mashup or a different story form that speaks more directly to users.”

In the age of social media, that’s a smart approach. With Twitter, anyone can potentially break news like the AP — we can learn about earthquakes directly from the people who experience them, or celebrity deaths via a tweet by a loved one.

The enduring value for news is context. Oreskes calls it “The New Distinctiveness,” with the AP expanding its perspective to include the full arc of a story, not just the moment it breaks. This means considering multiple themes and angles, telling stories in multiple formats and writing with a voice. To do this, the news bureau plans to alter internal editorial processes, realign resources, and create spaces for experimentation with this new approach.

As Hoffman says, simply laying out the facts is no longer sufficient. What do they mean? Why is this important? Who does this impact? And what comes next? These are the questions our news content must answer to endure and matter for the long haul.

It’s not enough to handle product announcements and other news releases. We need to build compelling content that fuels multifaceted storytelling and think through the myriad of choices in building a company’s brand.

Source: Associated Press Embarks on Changes That Will Sound Familiar to Communication Professionals by Lou Hoffman, Ishmael’s Corner, Dec. 14, 2011

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About Georgy Cohen

Georgy Cohen is associate creative director, content strategy, at OHO Interactive in Cambridge, Mass.. Prior to OHO, she worked with a range of higher ed institutions, including stints at Tufts University and Suffolk University and as an independent consultant, on content strategy and digital communication initiatives. Keep going »

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