The Organic Marketer

Newspapers: Thoughts on Old Media During the Age of the Blogger

Posted in Commentary,Online Media by Jim Tome on November 4, 2008
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It’s been a while since I’ve written to this blog, being wrapped up in my firm’s new web-based marketing, promotions and public relations program for our clients. In fact, it was my daily scouring of Google Alerts (as blog and commenting opportunities) that lead me to recently be reading a number of online newspaper articles that got me thinking about this article’s topic.

Working at an advertising company, our clients — real estate, homebuilding and healthcare (all previously users of heavy print media) — tended to be voracious consumers of traditional media like print, billboards, radio and television. It’s only really been recently that they’ve moved quickly away from the stalwarts of advertising to the NKOTB, online media. Even then, how many newspapers try to use their offline, impression- (the new word for “reader”) based model in lieu of the much smarter, results-oriented pay-per-click method of advertising?

In fact, it’s ironic that a recent post by someone (@ToddGilmore) I’m following had this recent post about an interview with a new staff member at Dallas Morning News and his insights into traditional media coming online. In the interview, the employee, Travis Hudson, was asked what three things a metro newspaper can do to connect with its (presumably online) community. Travis’ responses were:

Focus on brand awareness. To me, this means going beyond simply reporting news and actually a return to journalistic research and reporting. Dig into news stories (and not just a quick check over at the often-incorrect Wikipedia, please), research leads and background information and give me hard-hitting, interesting and thought-provoking stories, not just a rehash of what came off the wire.

Engage readership. Great, you have recipe contests and letters to the editor. I’d love to see the return of featured, admired columnists — akin to blogging — something that seems to be lacking in this era of budget cuts as a result of dropping advertising revenue. Give me a reason to read your paper, subscribe to a blogger and make your home page mine when I turn my computer on in the morning.

Break out of the mold. Travis was a bit (!) hazy on this last one, but let me just say the advertising model you newspapers feature online — a dizzying array of banner ads, interstitials, video prerolls and even shoskeles — is overwhelming and beginning to really, really annoy me. I know you need revenue, but I’d be much more receptive to fewer, more subtle ads, a la the way I get them served to me on Facebook based on my profile.

It’s true that online newspapers need to do something and soon. The New Yorker had an article recently on death of the newspaper (the article itself — longer than I care to read online — is a testament to old media’s lack of perception of modern consumer’s online habits and preferences), but let me close by suggesting that newspapers need to embrace Web 2.0 technologies: give me syndicated columnists known for their insight and eloquence, use Twitter to let me know breaking news and engage me visually and virally with Flickr and YouTube.

I want to be a reader — not just the way you think.


One Response to 'Newspapers: Thoughts on Old Media During the Age of the Blogger'

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  1. Daniel said,

    Thanks for checking out Travis’ interview.

    Unfortunately, the current ad model leads to a greater quantity of more invasive ads. Personally, I believe that if media were to create a scarcity, then one could charge more for ads, a la “This show brought to you with limited commercial interruption by…”

    Hope you stop by again sometime!

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