2 June 2008

AP using ethnography to rethink news in the digital age

Be the first to share

Rethinking news
Last year, Associated Press commissioned Baltimore-based Context-Based Research Group to conduct an ethnographic research study focusing on the news consumption habits of young digital consumers in six cities around the world.

The drive for this research came from the recognition that a significant shift in news consumption behaviour is taking place among younger generations.

The study’s main finding was that the subjects were overloaded with facts and updates and were having trouble moving more deeply into the background and resolution of news stories.

The report, which is presented today at the World Editors Forum in Goteborg, Sweden, structures the field study findings in a series of headings with short, one page descriptions:

  • News is connected to e-mail
  • Constant checking is linked to boredom
  • Contemporary lifestyles impact news consumption
  • Consumers want depth but aren’t getting it
  • News is multitasked
  • Consumers are experiencing news fatigue
  • Television impacts consumers expectations
  • Story resolution is key and sports and entertainment deliver
  • News takes work today but creates social currency

These research insights helped AP design a new model for news delivery to meet the needs of young adults, who are driving the shift from traditional media to digital news.

In essence, AP realised that how news is being consumed in the digital space by young people matches how they are improving their own newsgathering and project development, and that they can build on this workflow to develop new delivery models that match people needs.

“Chief among those initiatives is a fundamental new process for newsgathering in the field called “1-2-3 Filing.” The name describes a new editorial workflow that starts with a news alert headline for breaking news, followed by a short present-tense story that is usable on the Web and by broadcasters. The third step is to add details and format stories in ways most appropriate for various news platforms.”

This led to a new ‘Top Stories Desk‘ at AP headquarters in New York, where “the editors on that desk are urged to consider the big-picture significance of a select number of stories each day and to provide the perspective and forward-looking thinking that can enhance their development across all media platforms.

AP also launched major new content development projects in entertainment, sports and financial news to create more entry points for consumers with appetites for broader, deeper content in those categories, as well as a comprehensive mobile news service “to deliver news content, across category, to a platform most likely to be in the hands of the young target audience.”

Finally, AP has been actively pursuing the creation of content with more “social currency” for consumers through new services such as Ask AP, by adding interactive explainers and audience views, by conceiving alternative story forms, or by providing further context such as was done in the “Measure of a Nation”.

“These initiatives at AP, large and small, have sprung from a concerted effort to think about the news from an end-user’s perspective, re-emphasizing a dimension to news gathering and editing that can get lost in the relentless rush of the daily news cycle. The consumer study provided important validation for that approach, as well as a continuing framework for thinking about future innovation.”

Editors at the Telegraph in London are following a similar approach and have seen a big jump in traffic at the newspaper’s Web site. The study ends with a case study describing how the Telegraph has adopted the mind-set of a broadcast-news operation to quickly build from headlines to short stories to complete multimedia packages online to boost readership.

- Read news article
Download report (pdf, 3.6 mb, 71 pages)

Be the first to share
16 April 2015
Putting technology in its place
Kentaro Toyama is a former Microsoft Research Executive and now an associate professor at the University of Michigan. Toyama calls himself “a recovering technoholic”—someone who once was “addicted to a technological way of solving problems.” …
15 April 2015
The woes of a corporate anthropologist [Novel]
Satin Island: A novel by Tom McCarthy Knopf, 2015 From the author of Remainder and C (short-listed for the Man Booker Prize), and a winner of the Windham-Campbell Literature Prize, comes Satin Island, an unnerving novel that promises …
10 April 2015
We are citizens, not mere physical masses of data for harvesting
The deal we have struck with the information society over the extent to which our lives are shaped and our privacy invaded requires urgent renegotiation, argues law professor Julie E Cohen at the annual Law …
7 April 2015
[Book] Practical Empathy
Practical Empathy: For Collaboration and Creativity in Your Work by Indi Young Rosenfeld Media, 2015 Synopsis Conventional product development focuses on the solution. Empathy is a mindset that focuses on people, helping you to understand their thinking patterns and …
3 April 2015
Opportunities for UX innovation in wearables
Until developers of wearable devices get the user experience down pat, the technology will struggle to gain adoption, writes Steve McPhilliamy on Medical Device and Diagnostic Industry (MDDI). "Understanding user behaviors, attitudes, and lifestyles is the …
3 April 2015
Automotive sales could grow 24% if retail experience improved
New ethnographic and quantitative research from DrivingSales identifies how the growing gap between consumer expectations and the current automotive buying process is suppressing car sales volume. Automotive sales could grow up to 24% if the retail …
2 April 2015
The future of loneliness
As we moved our lives online, the internet promised an end to isolation. But can we find real intimacy amid shifting identities and permanent surveillance? A long read by Olivia Laing explores this blurring between …
2 April 2015
Podcast interview with ethnographer Tricia Wang
In this week's Radar Podcast episode, O’Reilly’s Roger Magoulas chatted with Tricia Wang, a global tech ethnographer and co-founder of PL Data, about how qualitative and quantitative data need to work together, reframing "data-driven decision …

We are an international experience design consultancy helping companies and organisations to innovate their products, services and processes by putting people and their experiences first.

16 March 2015
Better Health and Wellbeing: Giving the elderly in Singapore sparkling golden years

Invitation: sharing session, Singapore, 30 March 2015   What are the hopes and fears of the elderly in Singapore? How can designers offer solutions that support the elderly in managing their health and wellness? What can healthcare professionals do to help them keep active? What role can technology play in the elderly’s daily lives? Design consultants […]

1 January 2015
Happy Playful New Year
21 December 2014
Experientia’s Twitter feed live

Experientia has now its own Twitter feed. Four months of Putting People First posts and other links have already been uploaded. If you followed Experientia on Twitter through the feed of its CEO, Mark Vanderbeeken, make sure to now also follow the company (but don’t unfollow Mark, who will keep on tweeting away). And while […]

19 December 2014
Putting People First blog redesigned

Experientia’s Putting People First blog has been redesigned. It is now entirely responsive, allows for easier browsing, searching, and filtering, and features larger images on the posts. The entire history of posts remains accessible as before. We are still tweaking things and welcome any feedback.

27 November 2014
Why the world needs anthropologists – an update

Why the world needs anthropologists – Coming out of the ivory tower Location: Padua, Italy, Centro Culturale Altinate/San Gaetano Date and time: Friday, 5 December 2014, 13:00 – 18:00 Padua, Italy, 5 December 2014 – The second edition of the international symposium of applied anthropologists attempts to erase the boundary between ‘pure’ and ‘applied’ anthropology, […]

30 October 2014
The BancoSmart ATM by Experientia for UniCredit selected for ADI Design Index

Last year Experientia designed the interface of an ATM of UniCredit, a major Italian bank. The interface is now rolled out across the bank’s ATMs in Italy, to great satisfaction of the bank and the customers alike, since interaction speed is much faster and error rates went down dramatically. Last year UniCredit and Experientia also […]

See all articles