Friday, December 12, 2008

Will traditional media get the move towards new media?

I don't claim to be a newspaper industry analyst, but there is a trend among this industry that is starting to ripple through it like the auto industry. First, there's a story about the Chicago Tribune declaring Chapter 11. And, then there was the Austin Statesman tweetup last night in south Austin. While most people won't see the relationship between the two, I, the would be media analyst, saw the relationship between both events.

In a group of about 75 folks, I was the oldest guy in the room and perhaps the only one who had purchased a copy of the Statesman to read. From talking to the other social media advocates who came to the party, I was one of those rare birds who still reads news the old fashioned way. Even more surprising was that most of the other folks in the room didn't think of the Statesman as a primary information source.

To the Statesman's credit, it is starting to embrace Twitter as a way of communicating to younger readers. However, how can it increase the eyeballs to its Twitter site and also increased its advertising base?

That's the question that the Statesman Twitter team has to really embrace just like the San Antonio Express News. As someone who had a two newspaper a day habit as a teenager, I am starting to look at alternate sources for my news. I definitely am spending less time with the print copy of the Wall Street Journal and Express News as part of my morning ritual.

So, here's a couple of strategic thoughts to help the newspaper and publishing industry:

1) Print editions will be obsolete in five to 10 years. Now is the time to really embrace social media efforts and increase the viewership of original editorial content.

2) Journalists will have to gain a foothold in the social media world. Newspapers have to teach their reporters how to cultivate followers like Laura Lorek at the Express News and Omar Gallaga at the Statesman. Both use Twitter as a way to communicate what they're working upon. Yesterday, I followed Omar's efforts to get a story about an "open source" from the Austin Independent School District through the day by monitoring my Twitter account.

3) Newspapers need to ramp up their efforts in the classroom. Their community affairs staff needs to help educators embrace the use of their newspapers with middle school and high school students.

The media can lead the transition to the new methods of getting news. Or, it can sit on the sidelines and wonder why it's losing a lot of revenue.


Eric Braun said...

Matt- Nice post.

Here at the Express-News we've held classes on Twitter and had terrific response from the newsroom.

We'll have a page soon with all the reporters, editors, etc. who are tweeting, it's a pretty impressive group.

We're not just looking at Twitter, but a lot of different social media apps available to us to reach new audiences.

Including engaging schools and other groups of young people.

Robert said...

Matt, very glad you came to the Tweetup (and that you read our print edition, too).

The Statesman is definitely embracing social media. Check out how many of our staffers use Twitter to communicate:

lalorek said...

Hey Matt,
Thanks for mentioning me! Twitter is a useful resource when reporting on a variety of topics. I've found interesting sources and great story ideas on Twitter. It's a journalist's best friend.