‘The future of the news will be written in code’

A step change in digital news is upon us. As I teed up in a recent blog posting, the business news startup Quartz went live last week with a bold statement of intent that included an intriguing proposition in its About us section:

“Developers and journalists, sometimes one-and-the-same, sit next to each other in the Quartz newsroom as we continually iterate and experiment. We know that the future of news will be written in code.”

So that’s seems to be their USP: no divisions between the words people and the commercial/code people. Built from the ground up, unencumbered by paper headaches. NEws for the digital native etc etc.

I’ll be following its coverage a bit more closely in the next few days and will give the site a first seven days report card (though I’m encouraged that it looks like the business content will be leavened with lighter pieces, like say, an analysis of Korean irony in that Gangnam Style viral pop video).

Meanwhile, first impressions are that it’s a great looking site, optimised for mobile, in particular iPad, in HTML5 – which I recall Mark Zuckerberg giving a bit of a slap in his recent talk at Techcrunch’s Disrupt. I’ll be trying it out in various formats soon, iPad, iMac, iPhone and even Android to put it through its paces).
Staff wise, much has been made of their hiring of a glittering team of journo-developers (though quite what a journo is doing with a Columbia J-School masters AND a Wharton MBA I’m not sure), and are ploughing what should be fertile terrain for the niche of business news in the digital space.
And I like this shtick much:

Collectively, we have reported from 115 countries and speak 19 languages (and 19 programming languages, too).

A key innovation appears to be the jettisoning of traditional media ‘beats’ for ‘defining obsessions’.

Our coverage is rooted in a set of defining obsessions: core topics and knotty questions of seismic importance to business professionals, from the rise of digital payment systems to life in a world of extremely low interest rates to the growth and habits of the consumer class

And in another, they are championing Spundge a new content curator that’s still in its infancy but looks ready to blow the likes of Tweetdeck out the water as a key journalistic tool by bringing together an even wider range of social media and Rss etc feeds. Nieman Journalism Lab describes it as like Evernote for Tweetdeck for Google Reader for WordPress. The key word in that is Evernote, which is by some margin the best note app around, and is so intuitively suited to journalism it’s almost a scandal it hasn’t been deployed in this way before. Spundge lets ‘collaborators’ ie journalists on a story share notebooks which are searchable by key words. Cloud-based co-operation for news teams – it just makes sense.
The other magical ingredient in all that is the possibilities for using Evernote as a dictation machine. It can seamlessly turn an iPad or mobile into a dictaphone and has basic voice recognition software which can only get better now that Siri’s sounding a bit more human. Which all could mean the death of shorthand and the beginning of more faithful note-keeping.
More thoughts on Quartz to follow. Suffice to say its debut has been covered comprehensively by the tech press and blogs. It really could be the dawn of something big.

PS see this Q and A interview with its editor Kevin Delaney on Flipboard.

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