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News at the Speed of Light

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Internet is the Future of News

The Bloke has seen the future of News... and it's called the Blogosphere

It seems the Blog Bloke isn't full of hot air after all, so please pardon me while I shamelessly pat myself on the back.

Obviously the head of the Associated Press reads my posts, and he's confirmed what I've been saying all along -- that the future of news is online, and traditional media outlets must learn to tailor their products for consumers who demand instant, personalized information.

The growth of high-speed broadband connections is leading to a future in which computers are always on "and so are the users," Tom Curley, president and chief executive officer of the world's largest news organization, told the Online News Association conference in Hollywood.

The Internet is picking up the readers and viewers that newspapers and TV news shows have been losing, said Curley. It also has changed the balance of power from news providers to consumers, who use Web-surfing programs and video recording devices to control what they want to know and when and where they'll learn it.

Curley offered a scenario in which a "news enthusiast" would download bits and pieces of news - sports scores, headlines, financial reports and analysis - from a variety of news sources to various electronic devices.

In the world of personalized news, "the content comes to you; you don't have to come to the content," Curley said. "So, get ready for everything to be 'Googled,' 'deep-linked' or "Tivo-ized.'"

That will make the expensive packaging of news in TV broadcasts, newspapers and fancy Web pages less important.

"You have to let the content flow where the users want to go, and attach your brand - and maybe advertising and e-commerce - to those free-flowing 'atoms,'" Curley said.

That already is leading to changes in how news is covered. For example, Curley said AP is furnishing bureaus with cameras to provide domestic video and is increasing coverage of news of interest to young audiences.

News media also will have to provide services that their online customers want. Curley noted one site in Kansas already offers a Web cam service local college students can use to see how long the lines are at a pizza parlor.

Media also will have to learn how to make money from the Web, where many consumers are used to getting their news for free. The market is out there, Curley said, citing a recent study that found 29 percent of Internet users - about 43 million people - go online to get news three or more times per week.

Stephanie Busack, 22, a journalism student at Ohio University who attended the conference, said she gets most of her news online.

"I just go to the Web sites, basically ... it's right there, everything you need to know," she said. "I don't like reading newspapers."

Curley also touched on Internet users who disseminate news and ideas through Web logs, citing one recent estimate that there are 4 million "bloggers" making 400,000 posts per day.

"That works out to roughly 16,000 posts an hour, or about as many stories as the AP sends out in an entire day," he said. "It will get even tougher to be heard above the roar of the Internet crowd, and the business bets will have to be for greater stakes."

Still, Curley predicted current news giants will survive.

"The bloggers need a baseline of facts and professional analysis on which to base their work," he said. "Imagine Drudge without somebody to link to, or Wonkette without somebody to poke fun at."


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