Old Media. New Tricks.

Archive for the ‘newspapers’ Category

The CanWest newspapers recently launched redesigns to their web presences.

I saw this two page ad in The Province on the weekend explaining their new look.


If it takes you TWO full pages complete with boxes, diagrams and pointers to explain your website redesign to people, it’s TOO complicated.

Google’s website has 28 words

I’m not saying your site needs to be that brief, but using Google’s site design and approach as a starting point is a good place to begin your planning.

Laying out a double page gatefold to explain your website redesign is perhaps the last place you’d like to find yourself.

catch the buzz … pass it on.

Let’s build more on the last entry about link love.

Jeff Jarvis is a big proponent of the link economy.

All content must be transparent: open on the web with permanent links so it can receive links. It’s not content until it’s linked.


He’s campaigning for old media to tear down it’s walled garden of content, and participate in the global market of crediting sources, linking to deeper coverage and providing some sort of path for readers to follow a story.

The problem is, old media is very protective of it’s content.  They spend the resources to dig the stories and they don’t want to provide any means for people to leave.

Okay, I “kind of” understand why they would be protective of their content. I think it’s silly, but I “get” why they might think it is prudent behaviour.

The thing I can’t understand, however, is why an old media site wouldn’t want to link within itself.

I subscribe to a few feeds from The Vancouver Sun.  One of them lists news stories they will be following throughout the day and points to links within their site where more information can be found.  I say “points to links” but it doesnt actually activate those links.  Here’s an entry from earlier this week.

See the trailer for one day only at vancouversun.com under Editor’s Picks

[Vancouver Sun]

That is on the VancouverSun.com webpage, but it is merely a word-for-word transcription of what appears in the print edition, complete with lack of active linking.

Kirk Lapointe, Managing Editor of the Vancouver Sun acknowledges they have challenges in moving to the link economy.

“Part of our challenge is the automated nature of our own feeds from our services,” he said in a Twitter message. “We’re asserting more local control in a few weeks.”

Babies roll over before they crawl.  Crawl before they walk.  Walk before they run.

Old media is online.  I guess that would be the equivalent of rolling over.  They still have a long way to go before they’re running with the rest of the pack.

catch the buzz… pass it on.

Traditional media outlets on the web are notorious for not providing link love. They simply post the content from print to the web with no annotation, link or way for readers to learn more or examine the sources. Even articles they write about technology or websites are devoid of links. Sure, they’ll put the address in the article, but the link won’t be active.

They build a fortress around their content. The only links allowed keep visitors within the garden through the nav bar, or take them off to buy soap and shampoo through sponsors. This is no way to build loyalty, trust or respect from your audience.

For more on this concept, check out the post Getting Credit for Word of Mouth.

catch the buzz … pass it on.

Old media doesn’t get proper credit when word of mouth spreads the stories they break.

People say “I heard it on the news,” or “I read it in the paper,” or “I saw it on tv.” They credit the medium, but they don’t credit the actual source.

However, when a message is spread in new media, the source is an integral part of the sharing.

We don’t email someone to say we read about something. We send them the link.

When we blog, we don’t just randomly quote a news story, we link back to the original story.

The credit is given. The link is mentioned.

In new media, we don’t say “I heard it on the radio,” we say “I heard Buzz Bishop do an awesome interview with Robbie Williams and here’s the link.”

Many old media outlets don’t provide active links within their stories, even when writing about websites. If they would activate the links, bloggers would know when they’re mentioned and help publicize the story.

Many articles don’t have sharing functions attached to the stories allowing readers and listeners a chance to instantly add the story to their Stumblog, Facebook page, or Delicious bookmarks.

By not giving the audience the chance to share your content, you are creating a one dimensional online presence. One that is basically worthless.

By giving the audience the opportunity to share the message, you not only give the audience the chance to spread the message beyond your original reach, but you get credit for it.

Word of mouth is the most valuable advertising you can get, but is your brand the message, or is the medium getting all the credit?

catch the buzz … pass it on.

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.