Neil Budde on the Future of News

Neil F. Budde has more than 25 years of experience working for newspapers and online publishers. He currently is general manager of Yahoo! News, the No. 1 news site on the Internet. Previously, he was the founding editor and publisher of The Wall Street Journal Online, the largest paid news site on the Internet with more than 700,000 subscribers.

Since joining Yahoo! News in November 2004, Budde has led the team that completed a major redesign of the site and that produced the company’s first original multimedia news offering: Kevin Sites in the Hot Zone, for which Sites has been honored with the 2006 Daniel Pearl Award for Courage and Integrity in Journalism. He was elected to the board of the Online News Association in October 2005.

Budde’s pioneering work on WSJ.com began in early 1993 when he started formulating the original ideas for an online version of The Wall Street Journal. His self-built Visual Basic prototypes of an online Journal soon found wide favor within Dow Jones and he was asked to form a small team to create an online Journal in late 1993. After a year spent working on a proprietary approach to delivering the product he had envisioned, Budde and his team recognized that the Internet offered a better technology platform for achieving their goals. Work switched to the Internet in early 1995, and the team launched its first site – Money & Investing Update – in July of that year. In April 1996, the team rolled out the full Wall Street Journal Interactive Edition and stunned many observers by announcing that it would soon begin charging for access to the site. It stuck with that business model through the Internet bubble and steadily grew the subscriber base as well as advertising revenue, achieving a cash-flow-positive status in late 2002.

From the inception of WSJ.com, Budde directed the design, development and evolution of the product and its free companion sites on careers, real estate and other vertical categories. In January 2000, he added the title of publisher and assumed responsibility for all finance, advertising sales, marketing and business development in addition to his prior duties as head of news, design, development and technical operations on a global basis.

Prior to his appointment as founding editor of the online Journal, Budde was deputy editorial director for Dow Jones News/Retrieval, where he oversaw design and development of new information services, including early natural-language searching features.

Budde’s career began with a decade of experience as an editor and reporter at The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Ky., USA Today and The Richmond Times-Dispatch. His positions have included assistant business editor, associate editor of the Sunday magazine, copy editor and business reporter.

Budde earned a bachelor of arts degree in journalism from Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, Ky., and an MBA from the University of Louisville in Louisville, Ky.

In 2005, Budde was one of three inductees into the Western Kentucky University Hall of Distinguished Alumni. In 2002, Budde was named one of four finalists for the World Technology Awards in the category of Media and Journalism. In 1998, he was named Business Journalist of the Year by TJFR (a newsletter covering business journalism). Forbes ASAP highlighted Budde’s work in its August 1998 issue on “America’s Best Technology Users.”

While an avid golfer with one hole-in-one to his credit (Jan. 1, 2003), Budde’s handicap remains stuck around 20. He also enjoys tennis, skiing and photography.

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Yahoo! News readers:

Yahoo! News is working on new ways for readers to comment on the news and participate in a discussion around it. While we work on our new community features, the message boards that were linked from individual news articles have been taken offline.

As they were set up, the Yahoo! News message boards allowed a small number of vocal users to dominate the discussion. In addition, related discussions from similar news articles were not easily linked.

Over the next few months, we plan to offer new discussion forums based on topics in the news and incorporating the latest features to foster a better discussion for all of our readers.

Neil Budde
General Manager
Yahoo! News

7 thoughts on “Neil Budde on the Future of News”

  1. Yahoo News recently shut down their message boards feature, which allows users to comment on individual stories. The reason was because a few users were dominating the discussion. As Neil Budde said in an open letter to users:

    Yahoo! News readers:

    Yahoo! News is working on new ways for readers to comment on the news and participate in a discussion around it. While we work on our new community features, the message boards that were linked from individual news articles have been taken offline.

    As they were set up, the Yahoo! News message boards allowed a small number of vocal users to dominate the discussion. In addition, related discussions from similar news articles were not easily linked.

    Over the next few months, we plan to offer new discussion forums based on topics in the news and incorporating the latest features to foster a better discussion for all of our readers.

    Neil Budde
    General Manager
    Yahoo! News

  2. Neil Budde’s “new vision” for news apparently can be summarized as “shut up and listen to what you’re told”, given that he has directed all commentary and discussion boards on yahoo to be dismantled. The public statement that his staff is “working on” new ways for the readership to comment on the news stories is either an outright lie, or de facto admission of gross incompetence, since every other aspect of Yahoo which has been under modification in the past has allowed the old system to remain in place until the new system was operational. Budde fools no one, He has no desire for those with opinions or commentary beyond his direct editorial control to express themselves on Yahoo. That is fine; Yahoo is a private service and can enact any rules it wishes; it is merely the hypocrisy and the lying on the part of Budde and the rest of the Yahoo directorate which is so aggravating.

  3. It became so obvious that the vast majority of message board posts at the end of Yahoo News “discuss” option were becoming very anti-Bush, anti-White House and anti- Iraq war.
    Pressure must surely have been put on Yahoo to eliminate this most successful message board on the internet.

    In its current format, Yahoo message boards are difficult to navigate, have no substance, and generally suck bigtime.

    The Yahoo message boards brought millions of users to Yahoo, surely they must miss them.

  4. I tend to agree with Burt’s comments. I really don’t see Yahoo resurrecting their commentary section at all, and in fact I’m quite surprised that they’ve allowed the message boards for their finance section to remain up.

  5. It’s patently obvious Budde didn’t like what he was seeing in the comments; that is, Americans are tired of the fascistic Bush, neo-con, neo-nazis. And the Bush neo-nazis are very, very nervous.

    The bullsh*t about “a few vocal users” dominating the board is crap. The fact is that the dwindling Bushbuttkissers were getting their asses kicked on a regular basis.

  6. yahoo may as well shut down the message boards altogether-there’s no point in having it on if only 2 people a day are using it.There may have been a few trolls using bad language talking garbage but it generated wide discussion among people that was fun.Now it truly blows.BIG TIME!!!!

  7. HAHA! Fresh Comments. I see that I’m not the only one that sees Yahoo’s slip up in strategy. Obviously, Neil doesn’t. Maybe 30 years of experience is too much! Maybe the way I relate to other people online is not the way a 55 year old does. Carry on, Neil… I hope you cashed your stock options prior to closing down the boards… You may need to work another 30 years to make up for it.

    Let me help you and put it in “VP-ese”:

    “Discussion breeds interaction, interaction breeds relationships, relationships breed frictionless mass socialization”.

    Your opportunity is to build discussions and interactions using your forums.. to cripple them is to cripple your forum. If you destroy the roots, the tree will die!

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