Sunday, January 28, 2007

Letting readers contribute

It's raining cats and dogs outside. OK, make that pea-sized ice and big splatty raindrops in sunny California. Meaning I am forgoing my walk for the moment. Here's a few thoughts from other bloggers on newspapers and newspaper websites and their ideas for potential improvements:

From journalist/marketing/new media participant Gary Goldhammer's Below the fold blog about journalism:

Interactivity, social tools and multimedia are now staples at most major papers. And they should be – moreover, the lessons of online engagement and influence of a media created by the masses, rather than a media created for the masses, must permeate today’s newsrooms and course through journalism’s 21st Century veins.

But while these advances are essential to the industry’s survival, there is more to flying above the clouds than putting on new wings. Remember what happened to Icarus when he ignored his father and flew too close to the sun.

Newspapers need to fight the battles they can win. This means getting niche and local, like magazines and weeklies. It means letting your online product be the “AM” edition, with the latest breaking news, and letting your print version be the “PM” edition, with the context, analysis and opinion readers can’t get anywhere else. And it means getting back to telling stories that matter, stories that engage and involve audiences.

In today’s age of the ever-shrinking news hole, words are a precious commodity. Newspapers need to make every word count.

And one more, post from Robert Niles on the Annenberg Online Journalism Review. It speaks to what he considers the silly fight between bloggers/citizen journalists versus members of the MSM.

He tells the story of a Los Angeles Times reporter writing about fluctuating prices on Amazon from an anecdotal experience that the reporter had -- the cookbook he wanted to buy went up 51 cents overnight.

Niles suggests that had the LA Times reporter availed himself of "citizen journalists" he could have learned and used information from their experiences of price-fluctuations of books or goods they've ordered from Amazon. Niles, as a seller on Amazon, had price fluctuation information about the sale of his own 10-year-old book through Amazon. He suggests he and others could have appended their information at the end of the reporter's story, if the Website would have allowed it.

The string of comments reflects the ongoing concern with newspapers' fears of "outsiders" mucking with a newspaper's info versus just getting to comment on it, after the fact.