Curley on winning the news wars

Rob Curley is the outspoken, pull-no-punches vice president of product development for Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive.  At the Society of Professional Journalists Convention on October 4, Curley offered a list of what it will take newspapers (though this applies to TV stations as well) to “win” in the multimedia world.

  • Own breaking news. 
  • Offer hyper-local content.  Curley says this means covering stories such as a junior high football game, something he says newspapers of twenty years ago used to understand.
  • Include database-driven coverage.  As Curley put it, “You must have nerds on your staff.”
  • Go  for multimedia overkill.  Curley says, “This is not a passing fancy; video storytelling is only going to get more important.”
  • Capitalize on evergreen content.  News organizations already produce stories that have lasting value, but they don’t make it easily available after the first time its published.
  • Embrace platform-independent delivery.  In other words, leave users to their own devices.  If they want to download a video to their iPod or watch it on a desktop, make that their choice.
  • Build a Web site for the way the Internet really works, not the way editors or publishers wish it worked.  Curley says right now, “People will only pay for nudity on the Web, they’re not ready to pay for the news.” 

Curley’s comments were part of a workshop on citizen media and he urged the journalists in the room to view news as a dialogue, not a monologue.  Curley says, “Newspapers are used to sitting at the head of the table, now they must get comfortable with just sitting at the table.”


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