Reuters reports that The Washington Post will soon have its print editors working more collaboratively with its web editors in order to generate "more three-dimensional ways that you can present that news," in the words of Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr.
It seems this really just formalizes and extends what the Post has already been doing. In many respects, the paper has been a pioneer of sorts in the newspaper industry and has used its web site fairly well to extend the content of the publication. More than just breaking news updates, the Post for a decade or so has used its web site to offer original documents and other materials too cumbersome or wordy to include in the print edition. The paper has also embraced the concept of conversation, through online chats, links to blogs, and the like.
But by making this announcement prominently, the Post will put pressure on its brethren in the dead tree media to better integrate their editorial operations. Publications are coming to the fundamental realization that the medium is merely a tool for message delivery. Frankly, businesses across the board, as well as political campaigns, and non-profits, are realizing the same thing. Whether the message is a "straight" news story, an editorial, a marketing pitch, or political plea, a multimedia approach makes the most sense.
This, of course, is good news for PR, marketing, and branding professionals. The increasing availability and reach of web outlets enhances the ability to communicate key messages. And as content becomes ever more easily accessible online, it improves the ability of organizations to quickly monitor and rapidly respond to articles, discussions, or other information — to amplify or clarify as appropriate.
The Reuters article points out that this is obviously not merely an editorial decision in the interests of the Post’s readers, but also a business necessity. With newspaper revenues (and consequently stock prices) in decline, the industry must continue to evolve with the times (no pun intended).
Innovative thinking will be the key to the future success of the newspaper industry. By embracing technology and the new means of improving discussion and transparency, the readers and the companies themselves will benefit.