This is a guest post by Sharon Donaldson, online manager at cottagelife.com. Be inspired! Contact me if you’d like to write a guest post too.
At cottagelife.com, we’ve recently revamped our home page and one of the tools we’ve incorporated is a free service from Publish2 that allows us to easily manage our news feed. We have created a home page section called News From Cottage Country that is a summary of links to regional and local newspapers.
The strategy behind Publish2’s tool is called news aggregation. The Huffington Post and the Drudge Report have been doing this for years. The theory is that if you pull together links of interest to an online audience, even if it means sending people away from your website, they will come back to you again because you’ve proven to be a valuable source of links on their chosen subject matter.
Even competitive news organizations use the strategy of news aggregation to their advantage: When western Washington State was overcome by flooding, four newspaper newsrooms at four different media companies collaborated to round up and share coverage of the flooding — both their own and coverage from other media sources around the state.
Practically speaking, using Publish2 couldn’t be easier. In about 30 seconds I installed a link tool on my bookmarks bar, and then installed the widget code into the desired spot in my home page. Now when I see an appropriate article on bracebridgeexaminer.com, for example, I simply click on my link tool, review the details of the link, hit save, and the headline appears instantly on my home page feed. I can even customize the headline if I don’t like the way the originating news source wrote it.
Publish2 is a free service for journalists and newsrooms to save, share, and publish links to the best content on the web. I don’t work for them, but I sure like using this tool.
A story’s been making the rounds lately that online magazine The Tyee has successfully solicited its readers for funds to cover the costs of covering the upcoming BC election.
Says editor David Beers, in a letter to readers:
As the corporate media model melts down worldwide, and the CBC is stripped, Tyee readers have a chance to show a way true investigative reporting can be supported. … be assured every penny will go straight into more journalism between now and voting day, and we will keep you apprised of how and where your money was spent.
I think it’s an interesting case. Everyone inside the media industry knows that supporting quality journalism on online ad revenue alone is a long shot at the least. But the Internet age has trained the general public – all of us, really – that content should be free, and that anyone can be a journalist. Here, The Tyee is telling readers that journalism requires resources, reporter time and the money it costs.
The question is, is this a one-time case? Or is it a sign of the times? And would it work for other publishers?
The answer: it depends. Here, The Tyee is asking for funding for a special, short-term project, one that is close to the heart of many of its readers (who, if I can hazard a guess, are less likely than the average to be huge fans of the current BC premier). Would requests work as well if they came every month? Probably not. Donor fatigue would set in.
And would it work for a more mainstream publisher, one who published less “important” or “essential” information? It’s hard to say, but probably not, if it’s information they can get elsewhere. What makes this case special is that The Tyee is local to BC and specializes in BC, and has a perspective on local politics that no one else shares. They occupy a unique slot in the market and their readers appreciate that.
That being said, if you have the right project, it would be worth a try.
What do you think? Is this a special case, or is the model applicable to the industry at large?
The other day (was that Monday? feels like a week ago), I woke up and went to work already aware of the earthquake in Italy, having first heard of it the night before via Twitter, of course, and BBC News.
The woman next to me on the subway, reading Metro? If as for many, that’s her primary source of news, she was oblivious. I don’t know how much coverage the major papers gave the event but there’s no way they were as up to date on the news as online media.
Don’t depend on print. You’re probably missing something.