Old Media. New Tricks.

Its called Social Media for a Reason

Posted on: October 17, 2008

The Vancouver Sun has recently entered the Twittershpere.  However, like The Globe and Mail and the CBC before them, they’re using Twitter as an RSS feed syndicator, a different way to take headlines and publish them to the web.

They’re broadcasting the news.  Not micro blogging it, not interacting with readership, not sourcing stories.  They’re simply taking the headlines from articles, that in a web world are more than 8 hours old, and broadcasting them via twitter.

Dan Misener made note of an item on a list of things that newspapers still don’t understand about new media:

Hey news executives! Try this newsroom pop quiz: Give each staff member a pencil and tell everyone to stop what they’re doing and write out the tag that creates a hypertext link. If most can’t, you’re not spending enough on training. If anyone in your management team can’t, you’ve got a crisis.

[From 10 reasons why newspapers won’t reinvent news]

That sums it up.  Many old school media outlets are just using new media tools in the same way they used old media tools.  They’re just trying to spread their message in a new medium, but that’s now how it works.  It’s about conversation, it’s about sharing, it’s about communicating.

Kirk Lapointe, Managing Editor at the Vancouver Sun, blogs regularly about the interesection of new and old media, and uses twitter frequently as well, but .. he’s not involved in any conversations.  He just posts thoughts and tweets without engaging in any discussion with his readers.

Just like his newspaper shouts out headlines and links trying to get traffic without participating in the social web.

It’s a direct violation of what Gary Vee says about the best way to gain traffic on the internet.  Communicate.  Interact.  Socialize.  MSM using Twitter and blogs is about trying to engage the public in the style of new media, but you’ve got to use the tools the way they’re meant to be used, otherwise you just end up shouting at a wall.

Traffic to a web page or blog on the internet is equal to readership of a newspaper.  If you did traditional marketing and got no readers, it would be a failure.  The way many MSM outlets are using the social web and not engaging people will result in no traffic and, an epic FAIL.

catch the buzz … pass it on.


5 Responses to "Its called Social Media for a Reason"

A good post. I’m just starting in PR in this arena and your comments mirror what I’m finding: both with regards to media and other PR and marketing depts – it’s not just putting the same old press release on a newswire.

[…] Its called Social Media for a Reason […]


With RSS feeds, blogs, e-subscriptions… people will get your headline time & time again. If you have a rapport with the person/company, & then they update you with some news, it’ll register a lot more then previous 5-10 sources that gave you the same info.

Great post Buzz! Maybe Kirk Lapointe is unaware people are writing to him? Or he doesn’t know how @replies work?

Then again as you’ve demonstrated with the Vancouver Sun’s poor example of a website, there’s probably not a lot of people in that newsroom who can create a hypertext link.

Using Twitter accounts simply as RSS feed syndicators are easy because the newspapers don’t need to have anyone actually monitoring these accounts. Just set it up and go.

With all the cuts to print newsrooms nowadays, news outlets see Twitter as just another way to get the news out to people, while also demonstrating they can be part of the “cool kids” using new media. It doesn’t hurt to experiment; how about putting a junior reporter or even an intern in charge of the account to interact with readers? Newspapers are slowly dying and those struggling to keep up will find themselves without an audience – both print and digital.

[…] It’s called social media, because it’s about being social.  You don’t broadcast your message anymore, you share […]

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