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Digital story-telling and the rise of the new publishers

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Vox Media CEO and Chairman Jim Bankoff

In order to tell the story of Star Wars, George Lucas had to create a new technology company that was powerful enough to tell that story. The same thing has to happen in digital news publishing.

That’s the conclusion of┬áJim Bankoff, CEO and Chairman of Vox Media, whose sites The Verge and SB Nation have shaken up the world of tech and sports journalism.

“Story telling digitally is a native art just like broadcasting,” says Bankoff, who argues that publishers must build themselves in response to the shape of the web and its audiences.

In practical terms, this means building content that is tailored to the fractured, passionate communities that make up the web. The audience isn’t “sports fans” or people interested in “health” but rather New York Rangers fans or those suffering from gout. Bankoff also touted his company’s proprietary tech platform that he says allows writers to better tell stories.

Bankoff was speaking at a paidContent 2012 panel with incoming USA Today publisher Larry Kramer and John Paton, a longtime newspaper veteran who is now CEO of Digital First Media.

Kramer and Paton addressed the familiar challenge for newspapers of how to manage legacy structures while trying to keep pace with nimbler digital natives like Vox. Paton described newspapers’ longtime practice of repurposing existing content as a lousy strategy and predicted that papers’ cost-cutting phase would last another five years.

The upshot is that legacy news companies will remain hard-pressed to leverage their biggest advantage — powerful brand equity — fast enough to be part of the new publishing world.

Check out the rest of our coverage of paidContent 2012. Full archived video on livestream (registration required).

Image courtesy of Angela Waye.