jillianduch
I only got two comments about my Annarbor.com post. A postive(?) one:
Torn. Had a subscription but never received the paper. Since it's online - seems in real time and interactive. I read it now.
And a not-positive one:
The latter. [jillianduch: IE, s/he misses the Ann Arbor News.] 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 They probably don't have enough of anything, the names of contributors on the Contact Us page is completely out of date--people who left months ago are still listed.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.

I also ran across an article on Poynter Online about an Ann Arbor community forum on life without a newspaper, which included some recent research into how folks these days get their news. And I laughed when I got to the comment from the man who missed re-using newspaper bags while walking his dog. (Dude, move on to plastic grocery bags...those even have handles.)


The consensus from the event seemed to be that online publications don't foster in-person discussion the same way printed newspapers do, don't support a community identity in the same way printed newspapers do, and don't utilize the same story-telling format that printed newspapers do.


Or at least the online publications that those readers read at that particular time. 


I'll admit, I've rarely seen a series of online comments on any publication that I could imagine happening in-person without creating some sort of public disturbance. Or a riot. (Side note: Dooce.com reacted to mean commenters by posting them all on a page with tons of ads. As in, be mean to me all you want, I'll use it for ad revenue. And the Bloomington, Ill., Pantagraph silenced online comments for an entire weekend because they had gotten so nasty.)


But I imagine readers/journalists will adapt to the other concerns. Hyper-local content, reader-submitted posts, and reader-uploaded pictures can be similar to engagement announcements and local press releases. And sure, breaking news posts are short and don't really have any "story-telling" elements, but some publications allow reporters to post longer versions online of articles limited in print by space. Engaging writing is engaging writing. If readers can handle Kindle, some will probably handle longer, well-written online news articles, too.


It sounds like the real problem might be creating brand loyalty and helping readers find content through the vast fragmentation that is the Internet and Twitter and Facebook. How many people will click through to read about how the local schools are spending tax dollars when they're distracted by e-mail, re-tweets about whatever it is that Kim Kardashian does with her time and ads about blasting belly fat? When you get a print newspaper, the choices were pretty much news, sports, lifestyle and ads...
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