I've been keeping a close eye on the news and newspaper industry, mostly because I think there are a lot of lessons for to be learned from it in the book publishing world. Although I still subscribe to my local paper, I find I get most of my news online from a variety of sources, including several that didn't even exist as recently as 3 years ago.
With that in mind, when I heard about DailyMe I wanted to learn more. If you're not familiar with DailyMe, it's a customizable online news service and their tagline is "just the news topics you want to read." I recently had the opportunity to interview DailyMe's CEO, Eduardo Hauser, and here's what he had to say about his operation:
JW: One of the knocks on news personalization services is that they don't allow for serendipity. You're only likely to read about what you've asked for. Are there ways to address this so that your subscribers are expanding their horizons?
EH: Serendipity is a very important part of the news experience and, as such, we promote it. We believe personalization is the starting point, not the end point. Personalization must promote exploration of content (including serendipity) and exploitation of content, thus allowing user to dive deep into subjects that matter to him.
The way we have currently implemented serendipity is by making DailyMe's Top News the landing page. As a result, the user's first taste of DailyMe is completely serendipitous. The 'personalized' version of DailyMe sits next to Top News. In the next version of DailyMe personalized content will co-exist with editorial content on the same pages. So the experience will be a combination of serendipity and personalization throughout the site.
JW: Localization seems critical in this space. DailyMe has all the right national and international feeds, but what if I want to keep track of what's happening in my home town, for example?
EH: Local news has been one of the most significant challenges, and still presents some of the best opportunities, for news organizations. DailyMe's technology is well suited for promoting local content, but we have not yet built a local content product yet. It is an area of great interest and is definitely in our future.
EH: I think the news will continue to come from journalists - whether they work at newspapers or elsewhere. The question is how will these journalists be compensated for their work? Some will be able to keep their jobs as employees of existing traditional publishers. Some others will likely find employment opportunities in new media; and probably a large number will develop direct audiences through Blogs, syndication, contributions, etc. The good news is that there will be many more people reporting and many more people writing. The bad news is that we will still face a few years where the business models are in flux.
EH: Yes. We are very interested in social media. We have introduced a widget called Meme-iT that enables user to share their emotions around stories and in the next few weeks we intend to introduce an exciting product called the DailyWe aimed at promoting a distributed editorial function among our users. More details to come…
JW: What does the future hold for the news industry? What will things look like in 5-10 years?
EH: I feel very optimistic because technology, connectivity and devices are eliminating some significant funnels in the news dissemination process. This will obviously create some disarray at first, and then things will settle down. I think tools like DailyMe, Twitter and others put tremendous power in the hands of people to generate and share information. Whether that power finds a home - and an audience - will require focus and skills that are unique to journalists. The ones that hone those skills will make careers out of it and the others will simply go on as amateurs in the new news ecosystem.
In the next years I expect news to surface in many more devices than now. I expect personalization and other discovery techniques will have matured and stabilized. I trust and hope there will be models that have matured to a point where they create a clear flow of funds between consumers and creators of content.