I pouted and snapped a few pictures when I saw this at the Newseum in October:

It's not fun to think about newspapers closing or struggling to adapt to a new media environment. It's also not fun to realize that one of the newspapers on my resume no longer exists. (I interned at the Ann Arbor News in the summer of 2000. Am I too old to include my internships on my resume?)

But there's no use denying certain realities exist: multi-media reporting, an expansion of (cheap) advertising avenues, the RECESSION. There's also no denying that effective communication centers around talking to people in a means they can understand, using words they can understand.

So, about a week ago, I started stalking annarbor.com. Very casually, mind you, but I just wanted to see what they're all about. Now that the initial publicity has died down. And I was pretty impressed.

I'll admit I was only luke-warm about their website design (Where's the defined hierarchy of stories I learned about in my college newspaper design class? Where's the dominate art? Apparently, I'm not the only one who thought so. And, there's other fledgling news efforts in town.)

But the social-networking component is interesting. It looks like those who log in to comment can upload a picture and "follow" specific reporters. In a limited sense, reporters interact with their readers by posting comments on the story responding to basic questions and acknowledging if they corrected the story for some reason. It also appears that editors actively moderate the comments sections and post their own comments announcing that comments have been removed. They also politely encourage commenters to stay on the topic of the story.

I also really like their presence on Twitter and Facebook, where you can (for the most part, it seems) follow not only the news organization, but individual reporters. I assume that means if you care mostly about university coverage, or business coverage, you can follow the reporter who covers those beats and interact with them there if you want. That is probably similar to following the reporters directly on the news web site, but saves the reader from having to create a new profile and log-in on the newspaper site.

So, I kinda wonder: Do Ann Arbor area people love it, or miss the old Ann Arbor News?
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1 Response
  1. Anonymous Says:

    The latter. People I talk to generally don't like annarbor.com. There aren't enough reporters, the comments can be very rude to each other, and the copy editing is terrible. They simply don't have enough copy editors or reporters. They probably don't have enough of anything, the names of contributors on the Contact Us page is completely out of date--people who left months ago are still listed.
    I check it most days but I don't read it the way I read the (traditional) paper and so I know I miss articles I would like to know about. I think most people I know feel that way, and a lot of them never open it up. I also miss having a real live paper. In print. To add insult to injury--the printed version is on a cheaper version of newsprint, which yellows very quickly in the sun.
    Last, but not least, people who got to reapply for their jobs generally got a) less money and b) much higher health insurance deductibles. So it was basically a way to screw the reporters, advertising people, etc. economically. Which does not make me feel good about the whole enterprise.