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Inform, Educate, Entertain... Expose?Image by inju via Flickr

We all know that the news industry is highly affected by technology – starting with the rise of bloggers as a news source, through the usage of UGC in mainstream news reporting, the reduction of cost of live broadcasting, the introduction of video to newspapers websites, collaborative news gathering, and the usage of social media tools to notify readers and create discussions around news items.

However, how can one evaluate the level of innovation of a news organization? Here are some of our thoughts:

1. Release of hot off the press news through the day, without limiting hot items to a specific news hour or editionTV news organizations expanding to the internet face a challenge – should they compromise the rating of their main edition by releasing hot items on the internet first? The same goes for newspapers and radio. This is a case of innovation – the internet strong point is the fact that news can be dispatched instantaneously 24×7, while traditional media is all about creating and maintaining viewership and readership peaks.

2. Creation of direct to web video news clips – today the cost of a video journalist is much lower than in the past. Newspaper websites already have in some areas video journalists – a role traditionally exisitng in the TV business only. Online news consumers do not divide media based on it sources (such as TV, papers and radio), but based on the information itself.

3. One news desk,  many platforms – while in traditional media, a newspaper has its own platform and news desk, one will think that news innovation should integrate all the platforms and create a unified desk per topic. So, for example, a desk covering the Pallin affair would be a stand alone operation in a newspaper, while others will focus on getting the best information, and “repurpose” it to the relevant platform.

4. Social media as a part of a news gathering game – does a news outlet use social networks and blogs as source of information?

5. Social media as a part of a distribution strategy – does a news outlet use social networks (such as Facebook and Twitter) and blogs as a distribution platform?

6. Audience interaction – does a news outlet interact with viewers, through its own site, as well as social networks?

7. Distributed approach – does a news outlet allow others to embed its content in their sites, social networks profiles and so on?

How does your news room operate? What are the challenges you are facing? what is the role of innovation in the success of news organizations, and how do they evaluate it?

(written in collaboration with Lara Greenberg, former South African journalist and current student of the School of Communications at IDC Herzliya).