The past and future of the news bundle

In December, I was invited to contribute to Nieman Lab’s predictions for 2015. My article looked at the re-emergence of the bundling of news.

I argued that in a world of seemingly infinite news and information, the concept of bundling is enjoying a renaissance. Here’s an excerpt:

The bundle is dead; long live the bundle. But this isn’t the familiar 20th-century package of paper and ink. It’s a bundle that lives as code, often assembled by other bits of code, and almost invariably run by people who write code, not words.

The bundle used to be that daily paper delivered to the doorstep. The newspaper evolved as a collection of the important and the worthy alongside the amusing and entertaining, mixed in with display ads and classifieds. As a physical delivery system, it’s a historical artifact of the technology, audience, and business of a particular time.

The Internet brought about the great unbundling of the printed product. As news moved online, readers could pick and chose stories of interest, ignoring the rest. Worse for media outlets, digital also disconnected news from its traditional life-support systems — real estate, autos, and classifieds, to name just a few.

But the newspaper bundle was more than a business model or a product of the technology and delivery systems of the time. It brought order to countless things happening daily, with people relying on professionals to select a handful of events and include them in the stable and fixed format of the printed page. By packaging the world, the newspaper (and later the newscast) brought a sense of harmony to the cacophony of the everyday.

The bundle is back, enjoying a renaissance as people realize that they need it more than ever before. The promise of the seemingly infinite Internet, where news from everywhere in the world is just a click away, has run into the reality of life, when time and attention are finite.

Read more at Nieman Lab.