Newspapers’ cold embrace of the Internet

Posted on July 8, 2007 
Filed Under Journalism, Social Media

Patrick Thornton, of The Journalism Iconoclast, hits the nail on the head with ‘Do newspapers need to be innovators?’:

I would argue the only areas that newspapers can truly be innovative in is telling stories. But to tell stories in innovative ways, newspapers need to embrace technology and trends. Newspapers don’t need to be social networking pioneers (too late for that anyway), but I think it is important for many newspapers — especially more local ones — to embrace social networking and other Web 2.0 conventions.

Let’s face a cold, hard reality: newspapers and most journalism companies don’t put a lot of money into R&D (or staff or anything). If you don’t put money into R&D, you can’t be innovative. But every newspaper needs to be forward thinking (and most aren’t).

That means having a publisher and top editors who are willing to take risks. If they are willing to take risks, then you need a new media team that stays abreast of the latest trends on the Web and what is popular among users. If they know the trends, they can research and figure out how to best apply those new technologies to their Web product.

Social networking has existed for years. Main-stream media companies like USA Today are now embracing it. Yes, they are years late to the party, but they really had nothing to gain by trying to be a pioneer, because they probably wouldn’t have dedicated enough resources to realize the potential of social networking.

What USA Today has to figure out is how to best apply these technologies to their site, because there needs to be a compelling reason for people to join another social network.

Flash, video, databases, etc have been on the Web for years. What’s important is not being a pioneer in programming APIs or anything technical, but rather being a pioneer in deploying those technologies to tell stronger stories and inform people better. It’s 2007 and still most newspaper use photos poorly on their sites.

Why am I not seeing tons of slide shows — whether they be Flash or Ajax — every day? Photographers take countless good photos everyday, and my research indicates that people love photos — way more than they love video. And why aren’t photos searchable on sites?

Every photos should be tagged extensively. If I go to www.washingtonpost.com, I should be able to easily find photos of President Bush in Iraq on a certain date for a certain event. I can’t.

I want multimedia content tagged like crazy and searchable. It’s possible. Technology companies built the technology, now newspapers need to embrace it.

None of what I am talking about is being a pioneer. It’s just being forward thinking.

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[via Journerdism]

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