The following is intended to inform all the tech bloggers with advice for newspapers about some of the challenges faced by those of us trying to bring about change from the inside. Here’s two things lots of folks say are wrong with most online newspapers:
We don’t link enough.
A common problem. Here’s the deal: At the end of the day, a reporter is trying to produce one file to move to the print and online content management systems. To add hypertext links, someone has to go through a second version of the story that’s just for the online CMS and add them by hand. We can certainly run scripts that turn every “www.” written into a story to a link, but how many of those do you want to see written out in full in the print edition? So, this is a technical problem that can be solved either by hiring more online staff (who would then, in theory, have time to add links to every story) or by adding functionality to a hybrid CMS that can parse some sort of linking code, if not necessarily hypertext, into different versions for print and Web.
We don’t bring local bloggers into the fold.
Well, some papers in places like Knoxville and Bakersfield certainly do, but I’ll say this: Dave, would you blog for the Merc or the Chronicle, rather than at Scripting News? Okay, so ask yourself whether Joe Blogspot would give up his own brand and identity to blog at a community site. This is why I never had much to say at Bayosphere. I’ve already got a soapbox, thanks, I don’t need your masthead at the top of my blog. Additionally, in towns where the blogging community might have different politics than the paper, it can be hard to break down that us vs. them mentality on both sides. I’ll point to Groucho’s traditional remarks on club membership for further reference on this point.
Okay, now you…
What are the next two items on your list of problems, and what’s stopping us from solving them?