Google’s head of news and social products Richard Gingras spoke to the Shorenstein Center about the evolution of the news ecosystem, and how media institutions can stay relevant in a changing technological landscape.

Gingras, who describes himself not as a journalist, but as a “technologist,” reflected on why the news industry has experienced such changes in the past decade. “In our consumption of news, our whole approaches to discovery of news have changed dramatically,” he said, “and this has had a huge impact on the nature of media and news products and their intended business models.” The Internet has developed in such a way that “everything has changed,” not only the news itself but the way in which users approach and consume it.

Gingras prefers not to think of the future of journalism as a “transition” – a “dirty word,” he says – but as a chance for innovation, a blank canvas, without the “baggage of the past.” Trying to make old products work in a new and quickly changing environment, he said, only leads to “incremental decision making…and compromise,” while competitors are creating new products from scratch that better fit the emerging media landscape. “Media companies who survived the disruption tended to do so because they acquired new players who were effective in the new environment,” he said.

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