Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Content--Online and Offline

My interest in local news sites is well established. They seem to be the vibrant part of the news scene at present. In this context Walter Brooks of eCape pointed me toward a current article in Vanity Fair. It profiles Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr. and chronicles his tenure as publisher at the New York Times. That alone is interesting and particularly relevant on the day the NYT released its quarterly earnings. The latter part of the article gets back to their lead-in—that a “doomsday clock” is ticking for the traditional newspaper industry and has a number of interesting strategic insights. They say:

American journalism is in a period of terror. The invention of the Internet has caused a fundamental shift not just in the platform for information—screen as opposed to paper—but in the way people seek information . . . Those who grew up using the Internet, which now includes a full generation of Americans, are expert browsers. It’s not that they have short attention spans. If anything, many of them are more sophisticated and better informed than their parents. They are certainly more independent. Instead of absorbing the news and opinion packaged expertly by professional journalists, they search out only the information they want, and are less and less likely to devote themselves to one primary site, in part because it is less efficient, and in part because not doing so is liberating. The Internet has disaggregated the news.

The article points out that it isn’t just a matter of putting traditional news online. They quote Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism (page 6, Internet version) as saying that newspapers can’t consider all platforms as being equal. They must make strategic choices of platform and exploit the technology of each platform. That applies to all Internet publishers, not just newspapers, and it appears that many do not yet understand how profound that statement is.

The New Digital Content Marketing from Bob Collins on Vimeo

Reading the article—and I’d encourage you to read all 8 pages, not just my brief quotes—I was struck by the similarity of theme in a video by Bob Collins of SHIFT Communications. The video is also long for an Internet video; it runs about 6 minutes. I think once you start it you will be captivated by the message of the expert commentary he has aggregated here.

Is it true that electronic content is the only content valued by many people, especially the Internet generations? That’s a scary thought to many businesses, especially traditional media.

But I think there’s another step for all of us. It’s not enough to simply make our content electronic. We have to make it visible. We have to distribute it (or announcements that it exists) widely around the net. Is that what inbound marketing is all about?

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