Friday, April 10, 2009

Newspapers and the Internet

Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, founder and Grand Pooh-Bah of the Daily Kos, talks about a conversation he had with a newspaper editor back in 2003:

He had tracked the growth patterns of this site [Daily Kos] and was wondering what he could do to help his mid-sized newspaper become better acclimated to the web. My answer then, same as it would be now, was to embrace the audience and make them feel like part of the endeavor, create tools that would allow greater engagement and discussion between editors, writers, and readers. As a first step, why not add comments to your stories?

The editor sighed. You see, he told me, they had tried that already. . . . [T]he experiment in user feedback persisted until the newspaper's "star columnist" stormed into the editor's office one day.

"Get that graffiti off my page!" he furiously demanded. . . . [I]f that vandalism wasn't removed from pages containing his column, he would quit the paper. The paper's leadership panicked, and the commenting feature was removed from the paper's site.

What newspaper was this? The Rocky Mountain News, which completely ceased publication Feb. 27, 2009.


A quick look at the Newport Daily News reveals . . . a news story with reader comments!

And an equally quick look at the Providence Journal reveals . . . a news story with reader comments!

Are we seeing natural selection at work in the newspaper business?
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