December 26, 2007

Rich Boehne of Scripps has coined a “sixth W” to be added to the traditional five W’s of journalism (who, what, when, where and why) taught for decades (or centuries?) to aspiring journos everywhere — and it’s a brilliant one.

In this recent AP article, Boehne discusses how users’ needs have changed: “When I’m in the newsrooms, what I preach constantly is in today’s environment, it’s much less about who, what, when and where. It’s about why and what’s next.”

The “what’s next” W is the smartest thinking I’ve seen in a while about how reporting should (and must) change.

Boehne said the new, split-up Scripps (which will separate its fast-growing cable and Internet businesses and its local TV and newspaper businesses into two separate companies soon) will face an interesting future.

“The growth opportunities are probably more immediate on the cable network side, but the wonderful change and chaos and lack of clarity in local media suggests that there’s opportunity,” Boehne said. He also said the economics are tricky in acquiring newspapers. “At this point, it might matter less whether you enter through newspaper or you enter through TV,” he said. Where you end up 20 years from now may be somewhere on the Internet platform or a little bit of both.”

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Peter is a consultant in interactive media and classified advertising who works with media groups, newspapers and dot-coms to develop successful interactive services. He is…
Peter Zollman

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