Tonday I’ve been inspired by a recent redesign of a Kansas City Community Newspaper.
The Northeast News has really stepped up its game as far as social media strategy and its website is now completely plugged into Facebook, Twitter and even has an RSS feeds for nerds like me who like a looking at the news as it’s published.
This is a big deal because it’s a forward thinking step that acknowledges that the old "presentation" model of journalism really isn’t viable any longer and news media outlets are really part of an ongoing conversation with their readers.
Again, good news for me because I love having conversations with people wherein they put a lot of effort into making a reasonable and logical arguement and I chime in with a pussy joke. So I guess we all win. Here’s how:
See, back in the day (2007), Internet publishers used to write for Google but now Facebook is bigger than Google and we all realize that personal connections and trusted recommendations are more important than easily gamed search index trickery. Paying the price of handing over just about all of your identifying information short of your Social Security number is something that the sheeple have come to accept.
So, now the public can continue to remain blissfully unaware and irresponsible about keeping up with current events knowing that the crowdsourcing theory of social media should put all of the relevant information about the world in their social media scroll. For instance: "OMG, it’s gonna snow my peeps!" is certainly just as informative as any metro newscast that TV news stations spent hundreds of thousands of dollars collecting.
And who needs all that car crash footage when party pics from casual hookups are more easily viewed online and very often in real time?
Journalists are tying to play catch up, but the economics of the game doesn’t really work in their favor. Sure, now longer more thoughtful stories can be linked via facebook and twitter and have the potential to go viral but the content is so easily cannibalized by other bloggers, robots and aggregation services that it doesn’t really matter anymore where a story originated. Only strong branding can attempt to thwart this phenomenon and that fact that so few people care about local news that the barrier to entry is only really a few bucks.
The safe play in this game is to try to become an aggregation/social media service like Facebook or Twitter.
In the future, expect even more clones that do a better job and quickly segment the audience. Sadly, local news doesn’t really want to innovate its web presence and so many seem happy to simply jump from one fad to the next. In the final analysis, there just isn’t any long-term viability in trying to "own" the Internet and the current paradigm that so many newbie Internet denizens think of as stable is really just a rehashed America Online clone and described by more astute online experts as nothing more than a ponzi scheme.