Steve Outing’s column asks: Have we come far enough?
Outing’s question is prompted by a sliver of archive from a mailing list he started in
1995 1994 called online-news. Steve is nice enough to credit me with unearthing this archive through Google, and it’s true I had been on a quest to find this archive, but really — this find was purely accidental.
But my motivation in looking for the archive is tied very much to the subject matter of Steve’s latest column: Have we come far enough.
I’m not sure, however, the online-news archive is really needed to answer the question.
If you look at the newspaper industry as a whole, most newspaper sites are under performing. In some things, some sites are doing well while other sites do well in other areas, but after more than a decade of trying to get up to speed, newspapers still lag behind.
Here’s where I see newspaper.com sites failing to fully tap the power of the Web, or properly react to the competitive threat:
- They are not online hub of their community. Resources and information remain sketchy if they exist at all.
- Classified sites are not often rich, compelling, community-driven experiences.
- Classified verticals lack the depth to engage and meet consumer needs.
- Newspaper.com sites are not engaging place for local citizens to meet, discuss, debate and contribute.
- Newspaper journalists are too seldom fully developing their stories for online, by skipping over multimedia opportunities.
- Where are the niche products to reach the long tail of local audience interest?
- Newspapers have more than just a commitment to citizens and readers: They owe it to local businesses to help them succeed in a digital world. So where are the compelling ecommerce sites and the full service of advertising options? Where is self-service retail advertising?
- Too few newspapers even spend a dime on outside promotion so that local readers know that the newspaper.com should be a habit.
- Too few newsrooms have grasped the basic fundamental need to keep content fresh and that all news should go on the Web first and frequently.
- And almost no newspaper has realized the need to create virtual community to serve the real community.
Some sites do some of these things, as I said. Some are making good strides in some of these areas, but at this stage of the game, newspaper.coms should be a lot further along than they are. IMHO.