Friday, February 27, 2009

Why should I come to your news website?

I linked to this in a post in Empoprise-IE, but I'd like to highlight it a little more.

Techdirt printed something that said, in part, the following:

[N]o one has explained why...advertisers should support newspaper websites. Those newspapers have done little to add real value over the past few years, while plenty of other online sites have actively embraced their communities, and done so in a way where advertisers can derive much more value putting ad dollars towards those communities, than the "hands-off" communities created by so many newspaper sites.

Now it would be inaccurate to say that newspaper websites don't have online communities. Some do...but still don't get it:

I had a conversation yesterday with a former colleague, who, like many online journalists, is trying to steer his newspaper toward a more Web-savvy future. As we were wrapping up, he mentioned that he had to go to a meeting of his paper's "standards and practices" committee.

The what? I asked.

"Yeah, we have a standards and practices committee," he said. "We're supposed to figure out policies about managing user-generated content, hyperlinking and stuff like that."

Why don't you just crowdsource that? I asked.

He rolled his eyes, said "I know," then proceeded to detail some of the reasons why the paper's old guard had shot down his proposal to do just that. The reasons boiled down to two: 1) We don't trust outsiders to know what we ought to be doing, so 2) we're not comfortable letting "outsiders" influence decisions about internal operations.

But when you put too many restrictions on online discussions, that doesn't mean that the discussions will stop. The discussions will move elsewhere. And this doesn't just impact newspapers, it also impacts bloggers, especially those bloggers who require you to register for THEIR website before you can comment.

But wouldn't it be nice if a newspaper would adopt a generally-used commenting system? Well, at least one has - take a look at the commenting system used by this Harvard Crimson article.

Yes, the Harvard Crimson is using Disqus - which happens to be the same commenting system that I use on many of my blogs, including this one.

Apparently the Harvard Crimson wants to hear from their online readers.
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