Giving your newspaper content away for free online is foolish

Giving your newspaper content away for free online is foolish.

It does indeed cannibalize your circulation.

Qualification: I’m speaking only for local newspapers who’s community focused content is unique and generally valued by only a narrowly defined audience.  For news organizations with national or international aspirations, different rules apply.

Here’s the conundrum for local newspapers — giving newspaper content away for free isn’t a successful strategy, charging for it online won’t work, and not using the web to grow your business is suicide.

That makes it seem, then, like newspaper publishers have no option. If they give their content away for free online, they’re helping to kill their print business; if they don’t have a news web site, they risk losing their entire local news franchise (to an online-only start up) and they also abandon the one avenue they have to generate new revenue and grow the business.

What no newspaper publisher has considered, as far as I know, and at least not in a long time, is a third way.  Rather than giving away content, or charge for it or not even having a web site, the third way is create an entirely different web operation.

Let me state the obvious: The web is not print. Content publishers online require a completely different mindset from print journalists. The people who produce content for the web should not be the people who produce content for print. (Not that print people aren’t smart enough to learn web publishing — they certainly are, but they’re too concentrated on print when that’s their primary livelihood).

An online news site needs to comply with the following criteria:

  • Continuously updated
  • Use of multimedia
  • Personal-voice writing
  • Community building
  • User customization
  • Web strategy designed around pull rather than push
  • A separate, online-only sales staff with no constraints

There’s a lot of money to be made for local news sites if they can build strong, loyal online audiences and generate a buzz among readers and advertisers about what they’re doing, but unless and until newspaper publishers start seeing more clearly that the web is not print, their local news franchises are likely doomed.

Requiem for the Rocky Mountain News


Final Edition from Matthew Roberts

My father was born in Colorado. One of my brothers lived for years in Aspen. He now lives in the Denver area, as does another brother.

In my youth, I visited Colorado a handful of times. As an adult, a few more times still.

When I first settled on journalism as a career, I dreamed of writing for the Rocky Mountain News. I was captured by a faint romantic notion that I could find myself as the lone reporter for the Rocky in some remote Colorado town. I can’t even say for sure if the Rocky had such bureaus back then.  

I think I applied once for a job at the Rocky. I don’t recall getting a response.

Years later, I wound up at the Ventura County Star, also an E.W. Scripps newspaper.

I’m proud of my time at Scripps. It was a great work environment. I was treated well and given every opportunity to grow, learn and advance my career.

I still feel part of the Scripps family and some of my best friends in the industry still work for Scripps.

While I was at the Star, a couple of reporters transferred from Ventura to Denver.  It hardly seemed like a bad idea at the time. The Rocky was a big step up — a larger paper in a bigger city and a national reputation.  The Rocky seemed as venerable then as the mountains its named after.

I’m thinking of all my friends at Scripps today. I’m sorry to see the Rocky go. It’s a loss for the company, for the communities it served for nearly 150 years and for the hardworking journalists past and present who worked dedicated themselves to producing a world class newspaper.

Previously: The Founding of the Rocky Mountain News

The founding of the Kansas City Kansan

In Google Books, I found some history on the Kansas City Kansan, which delivered its final print edition today. Which is drawn from the minutes of a meeting of something called the Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the National Association of Commercial Organization Secretaries.  The group appears to be somehow related to chambers of commerce.  The following speech by Mr. Gibbs was part of a competition for greatest accomplishment by a chamber.  Mr. Gibb’s beat out three other finalists (there were 119 entries overall).

MR. GIBBS: Imagine yourself without a newspaper! You sometimes want to cuss the newspaper, but imagine yourself without it.

Kansas City, Kansas, a city of 100,000, without a newspaper —the largest city in the State of Kansas without a newspaper— served by the newspapers of a neighboring city—Kansas City, Missouri.

Sometimes, in some of the issues of the Kansas City Star, the news of a city of 100,000 commanded 17 inches! We called upon them and asked them if they would not give us more space, and we were always received courteously but never received much results from our calls.

The problem was checked up with the Chamber of Commerce for the Chamber of Commerce to get us a newspaper.

Many had tried to get a newspaper; many failures had occurred, but none had been secured.

No suggestion was made as to how it might be done, except this: “No; we won’t put a cent into a newspaper. There have been too many failures.”

Analysis of the situation: We must get a man from outside to give us a newspaper. He must have qualifications. First, he must be a Kansan, a man who can speak the Kansas language. Second, he must be a thoroughgoing newspaper man, and third, he must have financial backing so he can take a loss for two or three years, if necessary, in getting the thing established.

Such a man was Arthur Capper, a big publisher.

After eight months of report, survey, turndown and comeback, Arthur Capper made us a proposition: “Get $200,000 in advertising contracts and 15,000 subscribers, showing the good faith of Kansas City, Kansas, and I will start the newspaper.”

A campaign was laid out and all of the features used in all the war campaigns were put into that campaign, and the result was that on our quota of $200,000 in advertising contracts, we turned in $210,000; and on 15,000 subscriptions, we turned in 16,000. (Applause.)

The next step: Wait for the newspaper. Arthur Capper had to buy a building and remodel the building, get the machinery in, build the organization so we might start that organization up here (indicating the top), and not at the bottom and build up.

We gave him the subscription and advertising contracts to start the newspaper right off with 15,000 circulation.

Of course, he was equal to the task, and on January 31 of this year, we received the first issue of the “Kansas City Kansan.”

If Irvin Cobb had been in Kansas City, Kansas, that day, he would have had a feature story for a magazine.

Imagine a city of 100,000 people waiting for this paper. Here is an instance of one newsboy who got his bundle of papers and started down the street toward his corner. He had gone about 10 feet from the office and he was literally mobbed, and when he woke up he had his hands full of money and money on the sidewalk— and no papers. (Laughter.)

5000 extra copies were taken that day.

And so, on we might go, but we had the thrill of seeing a city of 100,000 souls receiving their own daily newspaper for the first time.

What about the future of the paper? It has today a circulation of 21,000 and it is going strong. Here is the paper, last Friday’s issue—a 24-page paper. Probably some of you would like to see it.

But what about the future of it? What is the future of it? Men, I want to give you Arthur Capper’s creed, and this is the creed that is being followed by every man in that organization of 125 that is running that newspaper—and, by the way, the Kansas City Star now has 13 men in Kansas City, Kansas, instead of 4.

Here is the creed: To do the right thing in the right way at the right time; to do some things better than they were ever done before; to be honest and square in all dealings; to eliminate errors; to know both sides of the question; to be courteous; to be an example; to work for the love of work; to recognize no impediments; to master circumstances. (Applause.)

The founding of the Rocky Mountain News

Found this history of the Rocky Mountain News via Google Books. The passage is from History of American Journalism, published in 1917.

ROCKY MOUNTAIN PAPERS OF COLORADO

In Denver The Rocky Mountain News has the distinction of being the oldest paper in Colorado. Its first issue was April 23, 1859, in a struggling, home-seekers’ settlement which had not yet a definite name. The discovery of placer gold some months earlier had made a settlement at the junction of the Platte River and Cherry Creek. On each bank of the river there was a rival town site, so that William N. Byers very wisely dated his paper as published at Cherry Creek, Denver Territory. The first issue of The Rocky Mountain News was printed on brown wrapping-paper. At the start it was published weekly, but later it became a daily. It has been published uninterrupted since its establishment, with a single exception in the early sixties when a flood in Cherry Creek wiped its plant out of existence.

The day The Rocky Mountain News started was one of the most exciting in frontier journalism. When the news of the discovery of gold in the “Pike’s Peak Region” had reached as far east as the Missouri, it promptly started two small newspaper plants which had for their motto, figuratively speaking, “A newspaper near Pike’s Peak, or bust.” One left Omaha and was owned by William N. Byers, Thomas Gibson, and John L. Bailey; the other set out from St. Joseph, Missouri, and consisted of the outfit which John L. Merrick had purchased from The St. Joseph Gazette. Both outfits had to cross the plains by ox teams.

Merrick was the first to arrive. Not knowing that competitors were on the way, he leisurely commenced preparing for the first issue of The Cherry Creek Pioneer. Ten days later the Omaha plant arrived and the competition for the honor of the first paper in Colorado began. The settlement offered a suitable prize to the winner and appointed a committee of citizens to referee the contest. Both The Rocky Mountain News and The Cherry Creek Pioneer announced their date of first publication April 23, 1859. At ten-thirty o’clock, on the evening of April 23, the first copy of The News, a four-page sheet, was pulled from the old Washington hand-press. Other copies soon circulated among the pioneers surrounding the log cabin print-shop. A little later The Pioneer also appeared on the streets. The decision of the committee, however, was that The News had won by twenty minutes.

Worn out by his efforts and depressed by defeat, Merrick the next morning offered to sell his plant to his rival upon terms which were later accepted. Merrick then set off for the mountains, not to hunt for news, but for gold.

As the pioneer settlement grew into a larger town, The News always led in a movement for law and regulation. In his attempts to clear the town of its rougher element, Editor Byers often wrote his editorials and news with a rifle across his knee while armed men guarded his printers. For nineteen years Byers conducted The News.

Under difficulties seldom equaled, and never surpassed, he brought out his paper. When the Indian outbreak caused an embargo on traffic over the Western plains in 1864-65, he frequently ran out of white paper, and in such emergencies he printed the news on wrapping-paper, gathered from Denver stores. That he might have the news before the mails from the East arrived in Denver, he established an overland pony express. By means of a relay of horseback riders he had brought the news from the nearest express lines with a speed which to-day almost seems incredible. Of course, it was expensive to run such a private pony express, but The News in those days cost forty-four dollars a year and single copies sold for one dollar and twenty-five cents apiece. In 1878 the paper was sold to the Rocky Mountain News Printing Company, with W. A. H. Laughlin as editor and principal owner.

Two papers were established in Denver in 1867: the first of these was The Daily Argus, begun on October 25; the second, The Rocky Mountain Star, begun on December 8. A third attempt was made by N. A. Baker, who, after bringing out a few issues of The Colorado Leader, left Denver, to go to Cheyenne, where he founded the first paper in Wyoming.

Walter Lippmann on a ‘Free Press’

The quote is from Walter Lippmann’s book Public Opinion.  Keep in mind, he wrote this in 1922, not 2002.

This insistent and ancient belief that truth is not earned, but inspired, revealed, supplied gratis, comes out very plainly in our economic prejudices as readers of newspapers. We expect the newspaper to serve us with truth however unprofitable the truth may be. For this difficult and often dangerous service, which we recognize as fundamental, we expected to pay until recently the smallest coin turned out by the mint. We have accustomed ourselves now to paying two and even three cents on weekdays, and on Sundays, for an illustrated encyclopedia and vaudeville entertainment attached, we have screwed ourselves up to paying a nickel or even a dime. Nobody thinks for a moment that he ought to pay for his newspaper. He expects the fountains of truth to bubble, but he enters into no contract, legal or moral, involving any risk, cost or trouble to himself. He will pay a nominal price when it suits him, will stop paying whenever it suits him, will turn to another paper when that suits him.

Somebody has said quite aptly that the newspaper editor has to be re-elected every day.

This casual and one-sided relationship between readers and press is an anomaly of our civilization. There is nothing else quite like it, and it is, therefore, hard to compare the press with any other business or institution. It is not a business pure and simple, partly because the product is regularly sold below cost, but chiefly because the community applies one ethical measure to the press and another to trade or manufacture.

Ethically a newspaper is judged as if it were a church or a school. But if you try to compare it with these you fail; the taxpayer pays for the public school, the private school is endowed or supported by tuition fees, there are subsidies and collections for the church. You cannot compare journalism with law, medicine or engineering, for in every one of these professions the consumer pays for the service.

A free press, if you judge by the attitude of the readers, means newspapers that are virtually given away. Yet the critics of the press are merely voicing the moral standards of the community, when they expect such an institution to live on the same plane as that on which the school, the church, and the disinterested professions are supposed to live.

This illustrates again the concave character of democracy. No need for artificially acquired information is felt to exist. The information must come naturally, that is to say gratis, if not out of the heart of the citizen, then gratis out of the newspaper. The citizen will pay for his telephone, his railroad rides, his motor car, his entertainment. But he does not pay openly for his news.

The Philadelphia experiment isn’t necessarily a bad idea

Newspapers should have kickass web sites.

Take your typical major metro — a content producing staff that out paces in training, experience and numbers any rival.

A typical metro remains the best advertising buy in town, retail and classifieds.

The free cash a good metro site can through off on print up sells alone (let alone new, incremental advertising revenue) can fund an operations and specialty content staff that most start ups would envy.

With proper focus and strategy, there is no reason for a good-sized, well-run newspaper operation to repurpose its print product for online.

All of those resources should allow the online operation to feed off of, but not be a duplicate of, the print operations. It should allow a newspaper operation to avoid the soul-sucking, readership-killing repurposing of print content online and the aggressive pursuit of web-centric content practices.

So why, more than a decade into the web era, do most metro newspapers still largely reproduce the print edition online?

The consternation today over the Philadelphia Inquirer’s decision to withhold premium print content from Philly.com has the digital class all atwitter (pun intended).

In Twitter, my friend Scott Karp says:

You can’t coerce people into choosing one medium over another. All you can do is serve them as best you can in the medium they choose.

Wired Journalist partner Zac Echola says:

They did a pretty epic job opening the door for competition. I mean, it’s one thing in a small community to do this, but a major metro?

One on my followers, Kev097, reacts to my pro-decision tweets:

More likely bloggers will nicely summarize stories that aren’t online- their readers won’t bother to seek out print.

Predictably, Jeff Jarvis and Steve Outing are down on the idea.

Jarvis:

You are killing the paper. You might as well just burn the place down. You’re setting a match to it. This is insane. Even the slowest, most curmudgeonly, most backward in your dying, suffering industry would not be this stupid anymore. They know that the internet is the present and the future and the paper is the past. Protecting the past is no strategy for the future. It is suicide. It is murder. You should be ashamed of yourselves.

Outing:

What’s long held back the newspaper industry and gotten it in the current mess has been holding back online innovation that might impact the legacy product (print). The kind of serious innovation that might have avoided the turmoil we’re now seeing among newspapers (especially larger metros like the Inquirer) could only take place with an attitude of “Let’s completely forget about the print edition and just try to build the best damn online service possible.”

My concern is that the Philly effort doesn’t go far enough.

I say, never put those stories online, but still make sure every single reporter and editor is working hard to ensure a great online edition.

For how many years on Outing’s Online-News list did I read about the evils of shovelware? If the archives were available, I’m sure I could find quotes from Outing himself saying something along the lines of “stop reproducing the newspaper online.”

We were all right in saying that, so why is it wrong now to say “let print be print” and “let online be online.”

Your online product should focus on:

  • Frequency. Plenty of updates. Web-first publishing. Tell me what is happening in my town right now.
  • When there is a big story, hammer it. Own it. Frequent updates, a flood of information, video, blogs, forums, public documents, databases, maps, graphics.

On a pure news basis, those two approaches are proven audience growth winners.

Reproducing the print edition online, not so much.

Even better, make sure your kickass print reporters know how to write for the web, which means more of a blog style, more of a conversational style, maybe even a little opinion, when doing those web-first updates.

There are a ton of other web-centric things newspapers can and should do with their web sites, but none of them include publishing first online enterprise and investigative pieces, columnist, lengthy features, trend stories and even analysis pieces.

Techcrunch published today a poll that showed that on a typical day, 39 percent of the Internet audience went online to check the news. That’s 39 percent of the not quite 80 percent of Americans who even have Web access (75 percent in 2004(pdf), I assume it’s higher now, but maybe not).

That is a number that represents a boon of an opportunity for newspapers, but it also points out how far online must come to be an major news destination.

While the Philly papers have a market penetration below 35 percent (I think), many U.S. newspapers remain well above 50 percent.

More Americans still get their news in print than any other source. Yes, the number has been declining, but newspapers still remain a mammoth force in news media.

Even while penetration/circulation declines have been beguiling to the industry, they didn’t begin with the internet. There is something larger, sociological, or potentially a problem with journalism itself (as I’ve said before), that’s going on.

It might be foolish indeed to expect online to save American journalism, given those trends. So why insist now that a metro newspaper must, must put its entire edition online?

Furthermore, let’s face it, while a well-run newspaper website operation can throw off lots of cash, it’s largely dependent on the newspaper success itself, and the cash flow is still insufficient to support a metro newsroom.

As much as it pains me to say it, we still haven’t found the business model that can support and sustain current newsroom operations.

Meanwhile, as the Readership Institute has pointed out, a lot of people still read print.

So why shouldn’t the Philadelphia Inquirer, or any other print operation, take steps to further differentiate the print and the online products, especially if such steps can potentially stem any tide, any contribution that shovelware/repurposing of print content makes to circulation declines.

Face it, we still need print to pay the bills, that is, if we want to maintain news operations that at all resemble traditional newspaper newsrooms (and whether we don’t or not is a completely different discussion).

UPDATE: Zac Echola makes the point in a blog post that I may be giving Philly too much credit. And he could be right. So let’s just say, differentiation is the model I advocate, and let’s hope that is the direction Philly can be smart enough to take this in. I had not given enough consideration to the part of the memo that prevents staff bloggers from trying out ideas in blog posts first. That’s not smart. And it is a bad sign that the curmudgeons are winning in Philly. On the other hand, the memo does say, “This does not mean that we will put the brakes on the immediate posting of breaking news that puts us first in a competitive Web marketplace.”  Mixed message? I guess we’ll see.  It’s important to remember Philly.com is run by Eric Grilly and Mark Potts has been involved with the site, and they’re no slouches.

The tale of two stories, one engaging, one not

Which of these stories would you rather read?

After Fleeing Psychiatric Unit, Ex-Officer Is Killed in a Gunfight With Police

Carrying two handguns and a Bible, a retired city police officer was killed in a gunfight early Tuesday on a residential street in Staten Island by former colleagues who returned his fire, the authorities said.

When the shooting ended, the officer, Jason Aiello, 36, was slumped at the wheel of a cousin’s truck on the street in front of his home in the Rosebank neighborhood, with his wife, Rachel, sitting next to him, officials said. His three young children were in another family car across the street.

Or:

Unhinged ex-sergeant holding bible and gun is slain by cops in front of family

Suspected of setting up his best friend for a mob hit, a retired NYPD sergeant armed with a gun and a Bible went berserk Tuesday before cops killed him in front of his wife and kids.

The death of Jason Aiello in a blizzard of two dozen bullets capped a dramatic chain of events that began with a “crazed” visit to FBI headquarters and ended with his escape from a Staten Island psych ward.

The 36-year-old father of three apparently suffered an epic mental meltdown in which he spouted Scripture, tried to abduct his pajama-clad kids and then fired on police, authorities said. He fired eight shots; cops fired 19.

Both stories are factual an unbiased. One is just much easier and engaging to read. The first is the New York Times, the second, the Daily News. While the Daily News posted a decline in the latest Fas-Fax, it had been a steady climber prior to that. The Times has been on a down hill slide for some time.

Not all of the readership loss of newspapers can be blamed on the Internet (especially considering that the declines started before there was a commercial Web). Isn’t it fair to ask that some of the problem might be the journalism itself?

Doug Fisher covers similar territory this morning.

A quote for the curmudgeons

Here’s a quote for any online manager dealing with a newsroom of curmudgeons. It’s from Theodore Roosevelt. Blow it up big and post it for all to see.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

(via Tech Crunch in a totally different context)

Good News: Lots of people still like print; Bad: Online not getting the job done

There are three main points from the new report from the Readership Institute (via Romenesko):

  • Your newspaper is doing a better job at retaining readers than you might expect;
  • Your web site is doing a worse job at attracting readers than you might believe;
  • Young readers ain’t reading newspapers, and they’re not likely to start.

Mary Nesbitt writes:

Why aren’t they (print readership numbers) much worse, when the imminent demise of newspapers seems to be all we ever hear about? The short answer is that reading customers aren’t deserting newspapers at anything approaching the rate that advertising customers are. That is no consolation for newspaper company employees who are losing their jobs.

One word: Recession.

Come on people, the main issue facing newspapers right now is recession. Advertisers (to their own detriment) advertise less during a recession.

Yes, there is a ton of secular pressure on newspapers right now, especially in classifieds. We’ve lost billions of revenue to the Internet. But the problem there isn’t our lack of innovation, as some espouse. It’s actually something more basic than that: Sales.

We’ve been slow to motivate and migrate our classified sales staffs away from order takers to sales professionals. With greater competition, and disruptive competition, came the need for our staffs to actually sell. It’s not like they didn’t, and don’t, have value to to sell. Newspaper, even today, in their dominant local markets, are still the best classified buy around. But we haven’t done a very good job of telling our customers that. And to whatever degree our online products help, and they help a lot, we don’t do a very good job of telling our advertisers how much value we actually deliver.

The flip side of the good news about print readership is how poorly local newspaper web sites are performing and how poorly we’re doing with young readers.

These are trends that should have no immediate impact, but the long-term consequences are horrendous.

Which is why getting online right and doing it now, and being news organizations that can move comfortably between both (all?) worlds is essential.

Newspaper staffs can and should take comfort in the readership numbers for print, but if they go no further with their thinking than, “see, I told you this web stuff was bunk,” they they are threatening the very survival of the institutions they claim to love.

While maintaining our print products as vital center pieces of our communities is important, we must concentrate on developing online literacy, which means:

  • Learning how to develop content that is web centric (writing more conversationally, adding more related material (databases, PDFs, video, links, etc.);
  • Learning better how to present our material online for a culture that is more diverse in its interest, has more options and makes quicker mental jumps;
  • Ensuring that our online products are differentiated from print products — the publication cycle is different, the mentality is different, the presentation is different, the push/pull aspect is different;
  • Stop seeing online as a threat and embrace it as an opportunity — recession or not, print is not a growth medium; the growth opportunity, the chance to create new streams of revenue, and the opportunity to create great new journalistic products that serve present and future generations better is online;

There is so much we could be doing with our web sites that we’re not getting done. The online readership numbers should be really sobering to newsrooms across America — the strategy of repurposing newspaper journalism — no matter how great you think it is — just isn’t working.

Every time some curmudgeon complains about online news sites not making any money, I’ve had the same response I’ve had for years: That’s because we don’t have enough audience. It isn’t that online can’t make money — we make good money now, and deliver a great value to the advertisers who do buy our products now — it’s that we don’t have the loyal concentration of readership we need online to maximize the revenue opportunities that are there.

I believe as strongly as I ever have — going back to East County Online in 1995 — that local online community news sites can build audience and grow sustaining, high-dollar revenue. I still believe we can get there, but not if we don’t make the effort.

The fact that newspaper readership has remained relatively stable over recent years (the long-term trend isn’t hopeful), is good news — it buys us time to get online right. The caveat there, of course, is there are lots of disruptive competitors rising up to beat us to the punch. We don’t want to miss out because we’re too wedded to a print way of thinking. Let’s continue to push for differentiated online community news and information products.

UPDATE: Simon Owens expands the story by talking directly with Mary Nesbitt a little more.

Working the web into your work flow

It’s a nice virtuous thing that Meranda Watling is proud to work for a newspaper. But that’s not the reason I’m linking to her post. This is:

That story that broke at 4:30? It came in via an e-mail tip. I actually “broke” the news about 4:40 p.m. I had quickly confirmed the gist of it and wrote two paragraphs to post immediately. Because the editors were in the daily budget meeting, I had another reporter read over it, and then I had a copy editor post it asap so I could begin chasing the sources who were leaving their offices at or before 5 p.m. After I reached those sources, I wrote into the online version and updated. When my editor got back he swapped it out and posted it in the No. 1 spot online.

I went to my board meetings armed with notebook and pen — AND a laptop, Internet card and my Blackberry. I continued to report and write during the meetings. On my drive between the two meetings? I made calls on the A1 story.

When I got back to the newsroom around 8:45 p.m., I made a few more calls and banged out the A1 story and then two more about the meetings I’d covered. All before the 10:30 print deadline. I made cop calls, and half-way down the 10-county list we heard a shooting over the scanner. I went there and called in a Web update from the scene.

That is a sampling of what “newspaper” reporters are expected to do today, at least at my newspaper.

Now that’s a fine description of what today’s news reporter needs to do to help keep his or her community completely informed. Too often we hear, “but we don’t have time.”

Well, you only don’t have time if you don’t know how to weave the digital responsibilities in with your traditional duties. Reporting for online is A) more efficient than reporting for print; B) really doesn’t add that much extra time or work.

It can be done. Meranda just proved it.

Is your news site the center of the local mediasphere?

John Wilpers is taking aim and taking names … he goes hunting for the top newspapers in the industry and asks if they’re really doing a good job at being the center of the local mediasphere.

And notice, I didn’t say “blogosphere,” because even though he concentrates on blogs in his post, the question really is — are you directing traffic for ALL of the media in your coverage area.  Blogs are a big part of it, and you need to really get John’s point if you want to get modern media, but we really need to think beyond blogs.

You should have policies, strategies and procedures in place to ensure you’re linking to all of the local media … TV, Radio, Blogs, wiki sites, craigslist … why should a reader need to go to any of those other sites FIRST to get news or information. Should you be directing traffic?

How good of a job is your web site doing at being the center of the mediasphere?