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Posts Tagged ‘interactivity’

E-mail away!

As a newspaper reporter, I often find myself interacting with different segments of the community, whether that be local officials or average Joes. And stories often get members of this community talking, either at the water cooler or on the Austin Daily Herald’s website.

Because of this, I from time to time receive reader e-mails regarding a story, or future stories I could do. Personally, I love getting these letters and think this interaction is a key element of what we do (and should strive to do).

I say all this as a transition to a recent blog post I read from the Washington Post’s ombudsman, Andrew Alexander. The post discusses what happened (or, more specifically, what didn’t happen) when the Post began putting reporters’ e-mail addresses with stories in print as opposed to just online. Many reporters were worried that the change would lead to an influx of new e-mails that would be impossible to manage. That, however, hasn’t happened — an informal staff survey showed that many only noticed a slight change, if they noticed anything at all.

With that being said, I think it’s clear that putting e-mail addresses with stories is a great thing that all papers should do (and many already do). This test case proves that reporters shouldn’t worry about an onslaught of e-mails. However, if the change leads to just a few more insightful comments in a reporter’s inbox, then the idea should be embraced. After all, journalists are here to serve the community, and doing that requires interactivity.

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As noted in this column by MinnPost writer David Brauer, newspapers might not have one foot in the ground. In fact, the post seems to relay some pretty good evidence that there is hope:

-103 million Star Tribune page views in January (a record for the paper)
-3.5 million mobile page views (also a record)
-700,000 video page views (another record)

But, as Mr Brauer so astutely noted in a later Twitter post to me, the Strib’s news release made no mention of revenues. That is where the big issue lies, as the highly publicized byline strike highlighted. Interest may be up, but the cash isn’t flowing in behind.

So how to make more money with a product that people clearly seem interested in? One idea, in light of these encouraging Wed numbers, would be to emphasize more interactive ads (if you see the Regions Hospital spot with the Brauer article, you’ll have an idea of what I’m talking about). I’m not pushing for larger ads or more ads (I am, after all, a journalist, and I believe in the news product). But ads like this are more engaging to the reader/viewer, and I would imagine they could be a bigger revenue source down the road (because if they prove to be so engaging, companies will want to pump out more and more of them). Big bulky banner ads do no one any good. Smarter ads (along with a continued emphasis on smarter journalism) could be the way to go.

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