Someone once described change in the newspaper industry as occurring at two speeds: slow and stop. Change seems to be occurring in Greensboro, N.C., with the News-Record giving some serious consideration to re-capturing readers with a web site that it wants to become the town’s electronic “public square.” (See note below.) What the editors are doing has become the talk of the online journalism world and is described in two articles, one by Poynter.org and the other in the Business Journal of the Triad. In the Poynter article, N-R editor John Robineson describes how his thinking evolved toward using weblogs to gain readership:
I had seen the readership data about our paper that show that we dominate with readers over 45, but that we are weak with readers under 30. I’d been thinking about that for months. Meanwhile, I’ve been reading bloggers for a couple years. We have an active blogging community in Greensboro and many bloggers write about civic affairs. We’ve mined their sites for news items to put into the paper. That taught me about the potential and opportunities of the medium. I started blogging about the newspaper about five months ago and discovered that, not only was it not difficult, but that it connected with an audience that I just wasn’t reaching in the newspaper.
The newspaper has promised to roll out a new web site design in February that will allow some of the idea’s the editors are considering to take shape. We will be taking a look at what they come up with.
(Posted Jan. 20, 2005)
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