Get the money, then we’ll talk

The N&R’s plan to tap into the online community: Version 2.1. This time, I think, they really mean it.

Lex:  Long story short, in January we plan to hold a meeting here at the paper of key N&R news and technology staffers and anyone in the community interested in working with us…

We’d do it sooner, but because we want this meeting to lead directly to action, we’re first getting our ducks in a row for 2007 budgetwise (departmental budget hearings are going on as I type) and in terms of technological problems and priorities.

During the many N&R ‘citizen involvement’ meetings I’ve attended with Lex leading the discussion, it’s been painfully apparent that if all it took was the will to do so, big changes would have already occured.  But, as he is not shy to admit openly and with much frustration, there’s always that money thing.  (Or lack thereof).  This time they’re going to get their money right, first.

Lex uses ConvergeSouth session contributor Doug Fisher’s post on the subject as his jumping on point for Ver2.1.  The journalism professor succinctly summed up the collective sentiments of the people-formerly-known-as-the-audience who gathered in a room Saturday to talk about their local newspaper…

“…We think you are important — so important that we’d like to be involved in how one of the main information organs in our community grows and adapts. We don’t particularly want you to die, but if you don’t listen to us, we’ll move on.”

Fisher then warns advises…

 ”…Newspapers have a wonderful opportunity. Their communities realize the challenges they face. They want to help. But this is a limited-time offer. We’re squandering it by treating readers as some kind of product to be “captured”…”

I’ve given them this long, so I’ll probably hang around until January.

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8 Comments

  1. Posted October 20, 2006 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    I’m not sure I understand what the big deal is. If they want to add comments to articles, just add them. If they can’t handle the volume of comments for moderation then maybe they shouldn’t do it. Maybe that’s not a newspapers role. They’re going to need to hire a webmaster who is so-o dedicated to the website, they’re willing to work on it 24 hours a day. But why go through all the trouble?

  2. Posted October 20, 2006 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    It’s a staffing and capital expediture issue. The stuffed shirts at the top will need to see that there’s money to be made. Otherwise, it will never happen, no matter what N&R staffers might want to do.

    So far they haven’t seen a need for it, and it will probably be another year or two before they feel the squeeze, They and their advertisers are probably quite happy with the number of hits they get. Why would they add cost? Being cool and hip and 2.0 isn’t a check you can cash.

    That’s my impression.

  3. Posted October 20, 2006 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    Bottom Line: If they want any of our consultation then they need to hire any of us as a consultant. Ideas aren’t free. Why would I give something to an organization that will turn around and try and profit off of it? Why would any of us? Community you say. Well, if they want to support our community and our communities ideas to forward their vision, then they can pay like any other corporation. If they were a non-profit it would be different, but they are in existance for the purpose of selling as space, making money and don’t let the kind people and kind smiles fool any of you. We should all remember “The Depot”. when it didn’t work in their money making effort, they bailed. I expect the same here, and hope for a differant outcome.

  4. Posted October 20, 2006 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    Should read ad space, not as space. Damn s and d are to close on the keyboard.

  5. Posted October 20, 2006 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

    @chewie: “cool and hip and 2.0″ has nothing to do with adding comments to articles.

    on one hand, it’s a mechanism for instant feedback from the community — one that generates conversations within conversations, providing discourse and a potential for follow-up stories.

    on top of that, such comment threads (if scripted correctly by their developers) become a part of the article to the only party that matters in this day and age: google. the better the conversation (more comments enriching keywords of the original topic in numerous directions), the more page views from google.

    it wouldn’t hurt to turn on comment permalinks either (in the current blogs or future articles), as that anchor also allows for new links in, which in turn increases google page rank too. all of this equals more money in the end.

    which leads me to agree with jay.

    here’s lex’s plan of action come january:

    “At the meeting, we’ll go down that list item by item and see whether anyone in the community has the ability and willingness to help us tackle each one. Responsibilities will be assigned, target dates set for completion, and then the meeting will break up and we’ll get to work.”

    excuse me?

    a conversation is one thing, but if the n&r plans on doling out “responsibilities” and “target dates” they had better expect an invoice from me.

    i’ve already given them a ton of ideas since i moved here last year. the meter is now on.

  6. Mr. Sun
    Posted October 21, 2006 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    I like this idea. My neighbors are complaining about my yard, and now I’m going to pass out a sign-up sheet for mowing.

  7. Posted October 22, 2006 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    “Ideas aren’t free”

    So much for people saying blogging is not about making money or for personal advancement. The dream of alt media is dead, not that we ever beleived it much anyway.

    We have enough going on for us in personal and professional lives that we are not going to get a big head over getting between 100 and 300 hits a day. Come to think of it, maybe that is why we are decently read.

  8. Posted October 22, 2006 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

    @mr. sun: that’s the most visceral metaphor i can imagine for this situation.

    @gate: if anyone tries to explicitly tell you what blogging is or isn’t about, run for the hills. that would be like me trying to tell you what speaking is or isn’t about.

    there’s no such thing as mainstream or alt media. the only thing that supports the validity of those definitions is ad revenue. and since the n&r has ad revenue, anyone who helps them with their technology should be getting paid. if they’re not, they’re suckers.