Twitter, the protector of news?

Head of News, Vivian Schiller, reveals some of the thinking behind Twitter's news ambitions

As Twitter rings in the new year, it's got some big ideas for expanding its audience by forging more news partnerships.

The social network is already a major platform for news distribution, but now Twitter is looking to amp up those efforts, partly through media partnerships. On Tuesday, Twitter's recently hired head of news, Vivian Schiller, offered some thoughts about why those partnerships are important, and what Twitter's hoping to do with them.

Schiller's hiring was announced in October. The 26-year news veteran was scooped up from NBC News to help Twitter become a bigger destination for news and to expand its advertising revenue by ushering in more media deals. Those partnerships, Schiller suggested in a blog post, could be good not just for Twitter, but also for journalism's survival.

Traditional news companies have struggled to adapt their businesses to keep up with the pace of the Internet, especially on mobile. One reason why the traditional news companies' move to digital media has been slow is that legacy platforms including radio, print and broadcast TV still generate most of their revenue, Schiller said.

"The cash cow must be protected," Schiller said in a LinkedIn post. However, the legacy platforms pay for forms of journalism such as foreign and investigative stories that digital startups might not be able to afford, she said.

One question brought to fore by the digital age is whether Twitter and other Internet companies are trying to compete with traditional news outlets. Schiller, however, seems to view the industries' interests as being complementary.

"In my new job, I'll get to work with old and new friends at news organizations to find ways for them to reach a bigger audience via Twitter," she said. The media-partnering responsibilities she has held at places like NBC News, NPR and The New York Times have been geared toward finding ways to disrupt traditional strategies, "but not destroy," she said.

Schiller said she would serve as Twitter's "in-house evangelist for what journalists and consumers need from the product," working toward the broader goal of positioning Twitter as a tool for keeping people informed.

The job represents new terrain for Schiller. "What if instead of being the digital person in a media company I should be the media person in a tech company?" she said. "Could those same relationships work in reverse?"

For it to work, Twitter also needs to strike a balance between expanding its platform without cannibalizing the advertising revenue of its media partners.

Now a public company, Twitter is focused on building new partnerships to scale out its business and turn a profit. "We plan to continue to leverage our media relationships to drive more content distribution on our platform and create more value for our users and advertisers," Twitter said in its recent IPO filing.

In addition to Twitter, companies like Yahoo and Facebook are also positioning some of their services as digital newspapers. In Facebook's case, certain user preferences, like the pages they follow, are being used to make news content appear more prominently on the site. But measuring the value of news based on such digital signals can be is tricky, so it's important for people to question how Internet companies judge newsworthiness, industry experts have said.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Latest Videos

Conversations over a cuppa with CMO: The Star's George Hughes

It's been an incredibly tough three months for the Star as it shut its doors and stood down staff in response to the COVID-19 lockdown. Yet innovation has shone through, and if the CMO, George Hughes, has anything to say about it, such lateral thinking will continue as we start to recover from the crisis.

More Videos

One failing brand tying up with another failing brand!

Realist

Binge and The Iconic launch Inactivewear clothing line

Read more

I am 56 years old and was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease after four years of decreasing mobility to the point of having family dress ...

Nancy Tunick

The personal digital approach that's helping Vision RT ride out the crisis

Read more

I am 57 and diagnosed in June 2009. I had a very long list of symptoms, some of which were. Keeping right arm close to my side while walk...

Nancy Tunick

Gartner survey: CMO spending hit by COVID-19

Read more

Audible did such a great job on their marketing and at the same time, there are no false promises. The support, quality, variety all good...

Vitaliy Lano

Audible's brand plan to build the value of audiobooks

Read more

I am 56 years old and was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease after four years of decreasing mobility to the point of having family dress ...

Nancy Tunick

Parkinson's NSW creates a lorem ipsum generator and goes digital to mark Parkinson's Awareness month

Read more

Blog Posts

Business quiet? Now is the time to review your owned assets

For businesses and advertiser categories currently experiencing a slowdown in consumer activity, now is the optimal time to get started on projects that have been of high importance, but low urgency.

Olia Krivtchoun

CX discipline leader, Spark Foundry

Bottoms up: Lockdown lessons for an inverted marketing world

The effects of the coronavirus slammed the brakes on retail sales in pubs, clubs and restaurants. Fever-Tree’s Australia GM Andy Gaunt explains what they have learnt from some tricky months of trading

Andy Gaunt

General manager, Fever-Tree Australia and New Zealand

Younger demos thought lost are now found: But what about the missing money?

There is much talk about what VOZ will bring to the media industry. New ways to slice and dice audiences and segments. A clearer understanding of screen consumption. Even new ways to plan and buy. The most interesting result could be finding something many thought we lost - younger viewers, specifically the valuable 18-39s.

Michael Stanford

Head of 10 Imagine and national creative director, Network 10

Sign in