Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The 'Latest News'

As an experiment in counter-intuitiveness, we've tweaked The Herald's online home a bit.

Or, as more than one newsroom employee has asked, has the editor gone bonkers?

Now in testing mode, we've added a Twitter feed of local breaking stories from a variety of local sites, including our competitors.

"This is the weirdest thing yet," declared one reporter. In essence, she said, we have Twitter feeds on our website that take readers to our competitors' websites instead of keeping them here. How is that going to help our ad revenue?

To start backwards, there's not much that any newspaper has done that has resulted in an online advertising revenue bonanza. The newspaper industry essentially botched the online strategy 15 years ago when it started providing news online. And now that that cat is out of the bag, there is no good way to stuff it back in.

While providing the news for free online, newspapers have also allowed the aggregators of the world to eke out a living by scraping the good work that legitimate news organizations are producing. They don't consider news organizations their competition.

The Herald will never be on par with global aggregators like the Drudge Report or Huffington Post. But if you can't beat 'em, why not join 'em?

If nothing else, posting all breaking news stories emanating out of Monterey County on The Herald's online homepage gives readers a single place to go to find out what's happening in their community. If it means that montereyherald.com serves as a launching pad to another site, so be it. But I'm confident that readers will return to The Herald's homepage to see what pops up next on our Twitter feed for their one-stop "shopping" of local news.

In the end, the convenience of seeing all the breaking news stories — including the competition's — is a reader/public service, which is ultimately what a newspaper is supposed to be about.

No comments:

Post a Comment