Completing the Cycle of News

I gave a talk today at an all-company meeting over at MSNBC on the subject of “news ecosystems” — the main point being that in order to produce the best news experiences in the world, you need to think of your audience as much more than just a passive sponge for your content. Passive news consumers can turn into active news participants if you give them the right environment.

This month, we launched a feature on Newsvine called “The NBC Nightly News Discussion Club” (available at In concert with MSNBC’s new video player, the Discussion Club is the first and only example of a network news agency making every single segment of their 6pm national news broadcast available for instant viewing and discussion online. So if you’re watching the news and you see a segment you want to talk about with other people, you’re no longer limited to whoever else happens to be on the couch. There’s now a universe of people to discuss it with online.

It would be interesting enough if that was the end of it. However, we’ve also included the ability for users to submit questions to Brian Williams and have them answered in video form, right on the site. The first example is below:

So what we have so far is:

News agency broadcasts the news -> audience discusses the content -> audience shoots back questions to the anchor -> anchor answers (select) questions right on the site

Maybe I’m biased because this is partly my baby, but I just think that is super cool, and super significant.

I also think it’s great that Brian — probably the most recognized face in U.S. National news — answers all questions off the cuff, with no teleprompter, and with a level of frankness you don’t often see on national news broadcasts. In responding to one of the questions, he even mentions his political affiliation (independent), which is rare for news personalities to do.

15 comments on “Completing the Cycle of News”. Leave your own?
  1. This is pretty rad, Mike. The direct responses to community members were a nice touch, as well – I think it will go a long way towards getting people to participate proactively and towards healing this perceived rift between MSM and Citizen Journalism or whatever it is we do on newsvine.

    Very well done. I know Calvin has his vacation coming up, how about you? You deserve one!

  2. Bradley says:

    Maybe I’m biased because this is partly my baby, but I just think that is super cool, and super significant.


  3. Beth says:

    This is a huge step forward for news in this country!

  4. Rob L. says:

    Yep, that’s fantastic. Nice work.

  5. Ryan Holiday says:

    I’d be curious to hear your thoughts, since the cycle I’ve always seen is entrepreneur comes up with a great idea, is acquired by a larger company, comes up with more great ideas which meet some initial success, DNA of major company slowly kills it. (a la Calacanis at AOL)

    I’m not asking the cliche, “what makes you think you’re different?” question or anything like that. More, what are you doing differently to make sure this doesn’t happen to you? So we can learn from it.

  6. Chad Edge says:

    Sweet Mamajama, Mike. I can’t tell you how much your work, your methods, and your drive helps me in day-to-day discussions at my place of employ.
    Sometimes, it takes a bit of sizzle like this to make sense of the user experience providing a two-way influence over media (instead of content being published and dead-ending with user commentary). Seeing the user input go back upstream makes me tingle.


  7. Super significant, definitely! Wow, Mike, this sounds like something that is going to really change the news and media! Well done!

  8. I think it’s a great idea, and defiantly a step in the right direction for the media world. Maybe I’m a little bias since I already enjoy the NBC nightly news over the other media outlets out there, but NBC seems to be really re-thinking the way to ‘communicate’ will people. Like you said Mike, it’s about time someone recognized that we are note just sponges.
    Good work, keep it up!

  9. andrew korf says:

    Wow. Great post and great evolution of news – I think it is interesting how I am now friends with the newsmakers and journalists i used to read via their blogs or on facebook now – and learn so much more via that 1 to 1 communication – as I suspect they do. Also emerging on news2.0 is the emergence of real time streaming video via the web… I think what scoble is up to with is amazing – citizen journalism on the rise.

  10. […] Completing the cycle of news News agency broadcasts the news -> audience discusses the content -> audience shoots back questions to the anchor -> anchor answers (select) questions right on the site (tags: web news television msnbc newsvine work) […]

  11. Rhys Thomas says:

    Not been on your site for a while, or newsvine for that matter, due to various reasons, but I can honestly say that might be the coolest thing I’ve ever seen. If only we could do the same thing in England it would make the news worth watching/talking about again.

  12. Don says:

    This isn’t all that unique really though Mike, sports news has been doing it for a while.

  13. Mike D. says:

    Mykola: Yep, I just took a week in Hawaii in December.
    Ryan: Only time will tell, but so far everything has gone really well and msnbc has been a big net plus to Newsvine. They’ve also made it abundantly clear that both brands (and offices) will remain separate and we are free to continue running the site mostly as we always have.

    Don: Sports news? Example?

  14. Sam McDonald says:


    I am with Ryan and would definitely like to hear more about how a smaller company’s role changes, when bought out by a larger company. Also, it is good to hear that both brands will remain separate.

  15. First let me say that the integration between MSNBC and Newsvine is cool and you should be proud. But I find myself spending more time on Newsvine than in the MSNBC portion of the feedback loop. In fact lately the ratio is something like 99/1

    Why? Because putting anchors like Brian Williams into the mix is like digging up a fossil. It’s interesting to to look at and think back on, but they are out of place.

    I mean contrary to your perception, I don’t see Brian’s answers as being off the cuff. When dealt tough questions about the role of media for example, I find his answers defensive, archaic and maintaining the status quo of big networks. I still feel the bad taste in my mouth when he responded to questions from Newsvine viewers unhappy with the practice of networks reporting election results on the east coast before polls were closed on the west – Brian basically dismissed the question as lofty idealism and defended business as usual.

    On one hand it’s encouraging big media like MSNBC and CNN scrambling to integrate and grow with the direction of media online, but on the other hand they seem more parasitic than participatory. What I would hope to see, and maybe it requires some patience on my part, is that by migrating to the new media paradigms, they re-discover the practice of good journalism – because anyone paying attention can tell they’ve lost that practice by and large.

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