Few news orgs cross the ‘Continental Content Divide’ between social and immersive journalism

Edelman Digital
Steve Rubel outlines what he calls the “Continental Content Divide” that has emerged among media companies:

Some publishers see social networking as their primary path to growth. As a result, they are mixing journalism and web culture in clever ways that get their stories shared so they find you.

Others, meanwhile, believe the future is in immersive experiences that audiences seek out and, perhaps, even pay for.

Very few media brands are equally adroit. The reason, according to Darren Burden form Australia’s Fairfax Media, is that “news you read is different than news you say you read.”

The goal of the social strategy is to create news that finds you, while the immersive approach results in “news you find.” Another way of describing it: “spreadable media” vs. “drillable media.”

Sites that are banking on the social approach employ infographics, listicles and slide shows. BuzzFeed understands the social approach the best, according to Rubel (though it doesn’t do slide shows). Its content “is crafted to make you look good for sharing it.”

But Mashable and CNN’s iReport are in this group, too. Mashable’s editorial staff is encouraged to spend 80 percent of their time on content and 20 percent on cultivating social media followings. And at iReport, staff spend 60 to 70 percent of their time “managing relationships on the Web.”

On the other side of the divide is the immersive approach, which values depth, context and visual experience. Companies banking on this strategy are focusing on the iPad, which is tailored for a “lean back” experience.

Companies doing well with this strategy: The Economist and the Financial Times, for which digital subscriptions recently exceeded print. Rob Grimshaw, FT.com’s managing editor, says the site aims for “quality media” rather than “a wild chase for page views.”

Also in this category: time-shifting apps like Pocket, Readability and Instapaper, aggregators and social readers like Pulse and Flipboard, and various iPad magazine offerings from The Huffington Post and others.

One of the few companies that does both well, according to Rubel: Reuters, which uses “highly engaging live blogs” that are used for “breaking stories that require context.”

This second installment of “The Clip Report” is a fascinating, quick read (embedded below). Here’s the first installment.

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