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« Downtown development | Main | Learning on the job »

May 26, 2010

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Joe Killian

Here, in a nutshell, is how I feel about the change:

I am worried about some of the most important work we do -- things that aren't breaking but do break things down for readers or give them a fuller understanding of issues -- not appearing on the website. Almost everything I do as a government reporter that isn't covering a meeting or a press conference could be considered "enterprise."

I don't feel great about fewer people reading that and only being able to link to the nut graph of any of our stuff online - enterprise or otherwise.

On the other hand...

I realize that this stuff doesn't pay for itself. I know that a staggering number of people don't subscribe to papers because they can read them for free online. The way that I know this is that I'm guilty of it myself (haven't been an NYT subscriber for years, love their site). Most of the journalists I know are guilty of it. And we're JOURNALISTS.

If you have to choose between an e-edition and a full newspaper website with a pay-wall...to my mind it may be six of one, half a dozen of the other. The only thing that may give the pay-wall approach the edge is, as Ed suggests, the tech end. An e-edition could be clunkier to navigate and un-linkable.

The virtue, I guess, is it will force us to try to make the website more interesting (more emphasis on blogs, social networking stuff, things that aren't just the paper online).

I'm going to give it a chance, but I'm frankly nervous about it.


Jim Saintsing

You get paid to subscribe? I need to change my plan.

Jim Buie

Check out the easily downloadable NYTimes Reader. I gladly pay about $15 a month to download all of the content onto my desktop in a format far friendlier than the NYTimes website. I hope this is the future of newspapers. If you're reading more than five articles a day from a newspaper website, you ought to be paying because clearly you are getting a lot of value from it.

I won't subscribe to a print publication anymore because I don't like the clutter in my home and cutting down trees is not good for the environment.

Any newspaper strategy designed to get people to re-subscribe to a daily news PAPER, I feel certain, is doomed.

Joe Killian

I really should be paying the $15 a month and doing that.

I have no real excuse. I'm just part of the problem.

On the other hand -- these days I do subscribe to e-music rather than illegally downloading tunes.

Kim

Trees are a renewable resource

John Robinson

For the record, we aren't expecting large numbers of people to use the e-edition regularly. But so far, the traffic numbers show that some are. (Right now, about 1,000 have registered for it.) The e-edition is there in case people who don't find it "incredibly unfriendly" want to see everything in the newspaper, including the ads. Before we added the e-edition, they couldn't do that. We do think that some people will want the choice.

Again, let us get a little ways down this road before you draw too many conclusions. We're still trying to figure out the best course.

And, of course, your readers don't have to "imagine trying to navigate an entire newspaper in PDF form." They can do it themselves.

John Robinson

And also for the record, I think your captcha thing is clunky and hard to read. :)

Ed Cone

Fair enough on the wait-and-see, John, and thanks for engaging in this public conversation.

justcorbly

I can't help but think that if people liked to read PDF's on the web, we'd all be using PDF to make web pages.

Now, I don't know how copy flows these days at a newspaper with both a print and a web edition. Logically, raw copy would flow to one team who prepared it for the print side, and the same raw copy would flow to a team who prepared it for the web site.

Of course, both teams need to be paid, which gets to the crux of the current problem afflicting newspapers. I may be wrong, but I'd guess that creating PDF's of finished pages and moving them to a server can be largely automated.

I agree with the notion that the web is a good place to publish breaking news. It's a better place, in fact, because news can be published whenever it's ready, not when it's time for the day's press run. I stopped looking to any daily paper for breaking news a long time ago. What I look to the paper for are longer, more in depth stories that are not tied to an hourly news cycle. E.g., if shenanigans are going on in local government spending, I'd like to read about it in the morning paper, maybe via a series of articles. By contrast, say, when the town manager gets busted for embezzlement, I expect to see that on a web site 20 minutes after it happened. It will be old news by the time mroning rolls around again.

Now, if the morning paper does run an extensive piece about the town manager, I'll very likely read it, even if I'd been following it online the day before, because the report might contain something I hadn't seen.

However, most people, I think, don't do that. "City Manager Arrested, Charged With Embezzlement" is about all they want to know, if that. I think that's an indicator of an absolute decline of interest in consuming news, not just a relative loss of interest in print newspapers prompted by a shift to online sources.

Fred Gregory

Shucks, maybe it will win a journalism award similar to the Oscars in the motion picture industry. They could call it " The Clunkers ". I can hear it now: For the most diffficult and clunky format to navigate ... the envelope please.. the winner is ... The News & Record .

Acceptance speech by editor: "I want to thank our publisher for having the courage to face such a high risk gamble: and the 112 individuals who have subscibed to the online version."

mc

I agree with justcorbly. I want to check a website for up to date information. I'd like to see more extensive articles in something I am willing to pay for. Unfortunately the type of insight and analysis that used to come in a newspaper no longer does which is why I no longer subscribe to the daily. We get it on Sunday JUST for the coupons, truly.
The issue of consistent standards with respect to the design of downtown buildings. The committee has been re-constituted in favor of business owners and preservationists and others now are "advisory". I'd expect my local paper to tell me why- that isn't happening. One can surmise "why" put it would be nice of those making the changes justified them to the public. Other issues are lacking that same in depth analysis from the N&R. I read the local blogs to a feel for the "whys" for many things happening in GSO, recognizing each blog author is spinning their view. It would be nice to think a daily newspaper could give a fair and balanced analysis, I just don't see that happening here.

triadwatch

just checked out the e edition and it is not that bad . You are correct in that you can't link the article but it still let's you copy and paste if you wanted to quote something from the paper to put on a post. If they probably want to get a look at the future of what it might look like the high point enterprise has a low profile web site. This format reminds me of yes weekly's e edition which i read the night before it comes out in print

doesit matter

I wish I had encountered this thread when it was hot.

Here is the problem.. The N&R has never had an online strategy... or actually, they have had so many, they might as well have had none.

First it was The Depot@Greensboro.com (really.. an email address as a website).. then, they trashed that and got down with N&R Online...

then.. Lex Alexander struck -- with the somewhat ridiculous notion that a 100+ year old newspaper would REALLY be a good example of what blogs are.

fail. massive fail.

now, they SHOULD go back to greensboro.com (minus the Depot aspect)

this sets up the expectation that the content is not a newspaper on the web.. and it would likely actually let them do MORE interesting content than is stuck in their mindset for a newspaper website

the key thing JR is alluding to is a "news site" -- they MUST get out of their heads that they are a newspaper.

why? because the TV station websites in this market are KILLING THEM. honestly. look at the research from the Media Audit... and the N&R's internal research

so, they need to infuse all of the things that make TV station websites WORK into their newspaper website.. (oddly, weather was not on the list... dumb. really dumb not to include that)

anyway, good luck to JR and folks for coming up with this idea -- which is not new. it is just an old way of going back and realizing they can't win if they think about things as they always have.

one prediction: the ONLY way this will work is IF they let go of a LOT of assumptions they have about how their content is viewed by the public. it sort of sounds like JR has (before hand) realized that.

the trick is.. will he be able to stand up for what is popular versus Capital J, pointy-headed Journalists (of which pretty much is one) when he is in the THICK of all of this...(when you are under pressure, the easiest thing to do is go back to your comfortable roots... he needs to stick with his plan)

get past all that to what the audience wants and you have.. success.. simple as that.

the problem is.. the N&R has never been able to stick with one thing long enough to even determine if they have success

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