Time to brake the news

P1060835This is were it all started. This is the island of Malta, in the Mediterranean sea. I spent three days with friends there, about 15 months ago, for a week-end of heavy partying and cool visiting. My phone’s only use during these couple of days was for snapping pictures. No e-mails, no news readings. A perfect time out.

So, when I came back home, late on a Sunday evening, I was pretty lost when I turned on the TV. The news channels kept showing images of the tarmac of a North-Parisian airport, blabbering about the latest New-York adventures of the IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn… and just perfectly failing to do what they pretend to do: inform me. I wondered if DSK had assaulted a stewardess, if he had tried to flee, if he was being deported, if he had been expelled….

It’s only after ten or fifteen minutes of staring at the screen that I managed to put the pieces of the puzzle together and understand they were just live reporting the landing of the plane that would bring DSK back to Paris.

That day, I realized how much the media were actually forcing their customers to adapt themselves to the pace the media were setting, when it should really be the other way around.

That day, I wondered how much my experience of the news would have been more valuable, if I could have caught up on the last three days of news while traveling back from the airport.

This experience is at the origin of the innovation proposal I submitted for my Knight fellowship at Stanford. It’s all about giving the users the ability to put a brake on the 24 hours news cycle. Personalization of news has, to date, been mostly about making it more interest- or social-centric. However, the most personal thing about me is my time. It’s the only thing nobody can have more of, while information is more and more abundant. The time we have to consume information and the timing we’re in when we consume information should dictate the new rules of the news cycle.

I believe that only then, news outlets can hope to regain value in the eyes of their consumers.


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