Obsessions, Not Beats

So instead of fixed beats, we structure our newsroom around an ever-evolving collection of phenomena—the patterns, trends and seismic shifts that are shaping the world our readers live in. “Financial markets” is a beat, but “the financial crisis” is a phenomenon. “The environment” is a beat, but “climate change” is a phenomenon. “Energy” is a beat, but “the global surge of energy abundance” is a phenomenon. “China” is a beat, but “Chinese investment in Africa” is a phenomenon. We call these phenomena our “obsessions”.

That’s Gideon Lichfield, editor of an about-t0-launch business news site Quartz, writing about what’ll make the site different. I like it a lot as a model – The idea that writers don’t have particular “beats” or areas they have to follow, but will instead follow particular stories wherever. It strikes me as a smart reaction to the decentralization of media thanks to the Internet (Now people want to follow stories and ideas, not particular areas, as readers, I think, a lesson they’ve learned from reading bloggers go wherever they want), and I’m curious to see how it works out.

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