At the Center, we talk a lot about the Web and social media as being platforms that Texas newspapers cannot afford to ignore. Some believe us; some don’t. But please take four minutes and 22 seconds to look at this video – and remember that those who put none of their eggs in the new media basket will come to regret that decision. Not in 20 to 30 years, or when their grandchildren are grown, but probably in the foreseeable future. So give this a look and think about its implications. And if you’re motivated to action, one such action might be to sign up for our workshop May 27 on developing a Facebook strategy for your paper.
Here’s a startup to watch: it’s called Patch, and it’s a company that goes into towns without a community newspaper or where the paper is struggling and starts a hyperlocal Web site. Patch is exclusively advertising-supported. Advertisers can either buy the traditional ad or get an ad where they pay by page views — $15 per thousand at this point. Check out this Forbes article – Patch and other similar ventures are showing some success, and we predict that it won’t be long before more start popping up in Texas.
We’re in the middle of a recession and unemployment is up and circulation is down. But in Claremore, Okla., one small daily’s circulation is up almost 10 percent. Publisher Bailey Dabney of the Claremore Daily Progress thinks lots of newspapers have lost circulation because they expect to do so. Here’s a quote from the article: “Dabney said a common misconception from naysayers is that the public isn’t interested in newspapers, but he doesn’t take that seriously. ‘If you want to buy into the notion that nobody reads newspapers anymore, get a DUI,’ he said. ‘And see how many people call your momma wanting to know what it in the world is going on in your life that would have you get a DUI. It is just incredible the number of people that see everything in the newspaper.’”
Northwestern University has produced a sportswriter they hope will be hired at community papers throughout the United States. Not a new graduate who wants to work in community journalism – a piece of software. The Intelligent Information Lab at Northwestern calls their new sportswriter StatsMonkey, and they think he’s perfect for community papers covering Little League games. The co-director of the lab says that StatsMonkey is designed “to write the stories no one else is writing.” The program takes the stats of the game and produces a sports story on the game. Click on the link above to hear NPR’s story about the new software, plus an example of the type of stories the software can “write.”