Five Suggestions for Truly "New" Media

Maybe I am under the influence of one of Italy’s top tech trade shows that was recently in full swing. Or maybe it’s the barrage of iPad apps that every publisher is putting out. Or maybe I’m just becoming old and ill-tempered. But that’s why you have a blog, right? Innocuous venting.
 
If I see one more triumphant announcement about “new,” I swear I’ll puke. And instead of taking pot shots at recently announced “new” media (Wired, lavitanòva, New York Times or others) I thought it would be more constructive to explain why I am dissatisfied with ALL of them and why I will probably never use them much.
 
What makes new media “new”?
Novelty in my honest opinion is not in the slickness of the interface, but in a different relationship between publisher and reader. In other words, the first and foremost change is in recognizing that your reader has a more active role than before. Without this, the “new” media is nothing but the stale old in a shiny new package.
 
Request #1: Give me a newspaper-like container like Pulse or Flipboard.
Let’s start with that — the new package. What was wrong with the old one? Where are the studies proving that the newspaper format, known and familiar to almost half a billion users worldwide (that’s circulation, the number of actual readers is probably five or six times that) needed a change? Show me someone, even if barely literate, anywhere in the world who DOES NOT KNOW how to read a newspaper. I will concede the headache those mosaic interfaces give me is probably age-related, but the smartest “new” interfaces I have seen are essentially evolutionary vs. the newspaper rather than revolutionary.
 
Request #2: Give me the ability to decide which sections I want.
But, you could say, somebody’s got to write the pieces, right? Somebody is responsible, somebody must decide what the content is. Yes, but why can’t we allow readers to decide what they want to read from the torrent of news that the gargantuan publishing machine of any major daily spews out? Why can’t I define which sections I care about?
 
I want world economic news, technology, gadgets and cars, but maybe the guy next door doesn’t care for cars and would like motorbikes instead. Maybe he follows football while I golf. Sections should be easily swapped and the newspaper editors should also propose “packaged” sections. For example, “Foreign trade with a focus on the automotive industry.”
 
Request#3: Collect any SERP’s result in an RSS feed turned into a “section.”
But on top of my general interests, every day I may have specific topics of interest. For example, an issue I am following for a client, or a story that tickles my fancy. So I fire up my “new” magazine and search for that topic, obtaining a list of articles that are relevant to my interest of today. The results of that search should be collected in a feed that should become a personalized section I can add in my newspaper
 
Request #4: Provide me with ample sharing options.
Then, what good it is for me to read articles which I cannot share with my friends? Ample sharing options should be readily available on any piece of content. Worried about giving away your valuable content for free? Don’t, but at least allow me to send a link with an abstract.
 
Request#5: Crowdsource hot news.
Finally, and this is optional, why not propose a “hot news” section where the hotness is based on users’ scores? At the end of the day, that is what makes the Amazon review pages so useful, is it not?
 
There you go, media publishers, now you have my list. Looking forward to your response.

Gianni is European Director for Digital & Social Media; a nuclear engineer by background (I know!) he started in tech (IBM, Olivetti, Lotus) before moving to the dark side remaining however an hopeless geek and gadget freak. His personal hero is Nobel prize winner Richard P Feynman, perhaps the best science divulgator who ever existed, which explains Gianni’s love for speaking and lecturing. Married and father of three he loves reading and movies as well as living in the countryside with three cats, two dogs and a horse. Catch up with him also on his personal blog