Larry Kramer and Craig Forman on the future of news

At the Media Center Cross Platform teams seminar, listening to an on the record discussion by CBS News’ Larry Kramer and Yahoo’s Craig Forman on the future of news online and working across media platforms. Some points from the talks:
Larry Kramer:

  • I don’t want to substitute a blogger for a journalist but I think they are all part of the process now.
  • The core of a news operation is the internet–more people are on broadband than get HBO today; we’re able to create a news experience that includes video, audio and interactivity,we’re going to morph our news operation into a more web-centric one where everyone at CBS news starts to treat as our home base.
  • The irony of the web is that it demands we go both shorter and longer.
  • At CBS, we’ll open up the process of creating news with a public editor/blogger/ombudsman who will be live throughout the day and pull commentary off the web that responds to our coverage.
  • We need to be where our audience is.
  • I would argue that CBS News will be heavily supported by web revenues 5 years from today.

Additional comments–
On brand and delivery format:

  • My son thinks of CNN as a website–people don’t care what the delivery system is, they just want what they want when they want it.
  • Our job is to go and get this news and cover it in the right way and to go and get this news and manage the discussion.

On growing traffic:

  • Page growth is coming from ability to integrate the long tail into what we do. It’s how you get to the incremental information is what makes a difference.
  • Even as we reach down into that long tail and pull out what is interesting.

Craig Forman
Craig says: “I got to Yahoo about 2 years ago ad have looked a news and media from the news, cable, TV production and magazine perspectives–the lesson I have learned is that we are in the middle of still figuring out what they types of engaged media are going to be and what the user benefits are”

We’ve learned 5 things I want to share:

  1. Comprehensiveness–Yahoo is an aggregator that has great strength because of the partners and open content ecosystem–there is comprehensive breadth and depth in our sources, in real time.
  2. Accuracy-When we talk to our users about news consumption, accuracy is rated #1 characteristic.
  3. Real time–News is being reported as it happens and users expect real time access to news–it’s the virtual news desk–whenever and wherever you are.
  4. Respect my intelligence–a qualitative call-We acquire users for multiple reasons, but we can use that distribution to provide users with value. Yahoo news is now on Yahoo Mail with a news headline box–it’s the electronic equivalent of getting the mail in the real world.
  5. Open content ecosystem–everything that might be considered social media from blogs to RSS feeds–when it comes to our users, the balanced view is that the big changes–a new way to have the conversation that shifts control from few to many–and that in turn changes the way news is created and distributed. Examples: Tsunami coverage, Trent Lott–the way we are reporting stories is changing

More Craig:
We see “Go open” as a business lesson–Our entire business model is based on closed models and business models/licensing,but our audience is MUCH larger if we can have Yahoo News as the central dashboard for the quick hit.
As we go from 22 to 30 MM users as we have changed the product and user values–we have driven more traffic back to our partners and driven revenues up–We have re-monetized our audience.

The guys have some predictions to share with the group–

  • Credibility will continue to suffer in news–more attention paid to lapses
  • Stars will sell their own photos online, in league with the paparazzi
  • The next earthquake will be largely reported by citizen media; breaking news will be reported via cell phone and digital camera and go direct to web.