The new era of digital news publication (answers the question: what is a journalist programmer?)

In the new era of digital news publication does still apply the journalism jargon developed along two centuries of printing press?

In a word: no.

In an article published a week ago at ClickZ, Heidi Cohen synthesizes the 3 Cs of digital news consumption:

What makes a platform relatively desirable to a news consumer? Here are the three Cs of what they want from news:

  • Customized. It’s tailored based on individual needs, interests, location, political views, and other factors.
  • Curated. It’s selected by a combination of professional news editors and one’s social graph. This serves as a lens for which information is viewed and from what perspective.
  • Contributory. It’s enhanced and modified by the addition of opinions and sharing of information through various forms of social media (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and comments).

Jeff Jarvis wrote that a while ago (in 2008), but almost anybody in the newsrooms was reading: The building block of journalism is no longer the article.

Divide the journalistic product, whatever it will be, no longer in articles, “breaking news”, respectful “opinions” from well established opinion-makers. Digital news publication are divided in three main areas, or keywords if you prefer. They are Firehose, Trend and Memory.

  • Firehose
    All the headlines, real time. Breaking news fit here, tips fit here, news fit here, new products, new events, new everything. Think Twitter, Facebook and news aggregators. You must publish first for the firehose. Your firehose (newspaper/blog feed, Twitter timeline) as well as the firehose defined by the consumer (customization, on Cohen’s description).
  • Trend
    What are people talking about, what is interesting? Generic or niche, what are *my* people discussing, being impressed by, affected by? The headlines or events “chewed” and considered, be it by conversations or explained in posts all over the web. Curating happens here. So does contributory journalism (a.k.a. citizen journalism).
  • Memory
    No understanding and education exist without memory. The memory is the data. The headlines that were trends in the past. Whenever it deserves a better explanation, the occurrence (what made the news) will be compared with the memory bank.

A journalist programmer is a journalist trained with informatics tools and skilled in detecting, editing and publishing trends, and knows which memory databases to query, and how to query them, every time she/he is called to explain or help understand what happened.