I spent some time fishing around for an example of a newspaper of the *future*. Well ok the future ain’t here yet and nor is the technology, not fully but there are some good attempts. I have covered a few user generated newspapers in the past; today lets look at Greensboro101 .com (Citizen’s media) as an interesting example of the genre.
This online newspaper has as its front page a discriminating featured blogs section, while feeds from these blogs make up the main content. Not a massive list of all blogs in the GEO tag area, but a handful of relevant ones. Local communities have local issues that aren’t covered by big media. Initially the blogs were addressing these issues solo, now Greensboro101.com is aggregating them into a community. I didn’t go through every blog but it would be nice if a few were from local politicians. Or other public figures.
Editorial board and policy.
Certain functions of this web site allow the editors to feature or otherwise give prominence to specific content. Generally, prominence will be given to articles that are:
1. About local topics or may appeal to the local citizenry.
Its run by community volunteers. We are going to see more of a move towards volunteerism as community participation matures. Its the only way to keep users feeling a sense of ownership of the community AND to keep costs down.
As well as the featured blogs there is the toilet roll list of local blogs, called Blog O Rama. This allows Leadership to be rewarded yet doesn’t block the say of the common man. I’m not a big fan of blogs as a technology backbone but this is one of the best implementations I have seen that reduces the narrow one-to- many flow of information limitation.
Phone It In
Not a technophile? Don’t blog? Well users can phone in their comments or news, or fax hard copy documents and Greensboro101 will post them up as audiofiles or whatever. Its one way of integrating the offline reader with online activities. Plus encouraging them to get on the ‘net (if you are the reason they subscribe to an ISP, your chances of retention are pretty high). Plus ‘ave ’em do a bit of P2P pushing for you “hey son, can you log in and check my audio file for me? Is it ok, do you think I’m right?” Now the son knows about the site too.
Not quite a Flickr blog:
Picturebooks are a cross between the media gallery and a feature article, a sort of photo essay allowing you to create pages of text with accompanying photographs, illustrations, or video. If you are interested in setting up a picturebook, you need to contact us and outline your idea, so we can set up the framework for you.
A sponsored link (one), search tool, skins, languages are there. What else is needed? Well there’s not enough relevant advertising, forums would’ve done a great job of allowing readers to meet and co-ordinate events. Yeah an event tool. More portal information like, bus timetables, local weather, local jobs.
Many years ago, I worked for The Advertiser in Adelaide. Then it merged with the other newspaper The News and our 2 newspaper town was reduced down to one. It made sense, same number of readers, merged circulation, one production cost.
The Internet doesn’t comply to these old world models – circulation hungry newspapers start buying up large numbers of readers e.g. MySpace, in the hope of merging them into even bigger communities, not realising that readers leave in droves. The internet space is not a one-newspaper town. And when you analyse massive communities, you see that they are made up of lots of much smaller ones. Tribes, clans, guilds, puddles, swarms, hives. Thats the groups to market to, not the great unwashed masses. By providing editorial aggregation in discrete relevant areas, and then letting the users play with the content and make decisions themselves, you can create a group that can be marketed and advertised to. And if you are smart you’ll use a peer2peer marketing model within that community. Old world sensibilities say one banner ad viewed by 25 million people is money in the bank. But it just doesn’t work that way anymore. Sorry!