by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
Panpa Bulletin : July 2006
July 2006 PANPA BULLETIN | 29 TECHNOLOGY MATTERS StePhen QuInn Wine and newspapers have something in common other than journalists’ love of them! Both need to stand out in a mass market argues Stephen Quinn The world of new media and the Australian wine market in mid 2006 share similar characteristics. Both need to find ways to distinguish their prod- ucts from the mass of choices in the market place. Australia has about three mil- lion unsold bottles of wine. That's good news for consumers but not such good news for wine mak- ers. The technorati.com website, rapidly becoming the Google of the blog search world, lists the number of blogs on its home page. As of mid June when this column was being written, Tech- norati listed 44 million blogs, up from 27 million five months ear- lier. American journalism uses the concept of the 'nut graf', the sen- tence which summarises the key element of a story. The concept is taught in journalism schools and is common because of a tenden- cy to use anecdotal or narrative styles for reportage, rather than the inverted pyramid style more favoured in the Pacific region. The nut graf for this column is simple: In a world of compet- ing voices new media sites, like winemakers, need to find ways to make their product stand out in the crowd. We used to say that content was king. We had the romantic notion that if you build a great site people will come. Just like the sporting field in the cornfields in the Kevin Costener movie Field of Dreams. That is no longer the case, es- pecially when it comes to getting people to read blogs. The field of dreams notion is naïve. So many voices are clammering in the market place that you need more than great content. You need a brilliant marketing plan. But it does not stop there. Let's continue with the wine anal- ogy. Imagine going into a super- market wine area crowded with bottles. How do you choose, es- pecially if you know little about what is available? Research and common sense both suggest that when ignorance prevails, we tend to choose based on the label. So marketing is important in making your product stand out. Template-based websites are not enough. Anyone can set up a blog using a template for the look of the site. But as the number of blogs rises (and Technorati says a new blog is appearing some- where in the world every few sec- onds), the number of templates is limited. After a while blogs start looking the same. So marketing attracts people to a site. But we need dynamic, updated and relevant content to get them to come back. Content is no longer king; quality and unique content is royal blood. The same principle applies on news web sites. Thus marketing and unique content work together. One brings eyeballs to a site and the other ensures that those eyeballs return. It helps if the content is interactive. That appears to be the unique selling point for web- sites and blogs (USP is a mar- keting concept but it applies in many areas of life). People aged in the so-called elusive demographics (aged 18- 24 and 25-34) -- the group print newspapers are so keen to attract -- respond positively to content they can play with. Witness the huge revenues that telecom com- panies make from mobile-phone voting for reality shows. To produce an appropriate lev- el of interactivity, websites and blogs need to invest more intel- lectual firepower -- another name for staff -- into creating that con- tent. Editors, ask yourself what are the staff ratios for your print edition versus your online site? A typical metropolitan daily news- paper will have an editorial staff of anywhere between 250 and 400 for the print edition, but only a handful for the online site. This invariably means the con- tent on an online site is either shovelware -- deposits from the print edition which are in the wrong format for online and dat- ed -- or breaking news from news agencies. In the latter situation the problem is obvious: everyone receives the same content so it cannot be unique. Major American dailies such as The Washington Post, The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times have introduced continu- ous or extended news desks. These publish breaking news online as soon as possible after stories become available. Robert McCartney, assistant managing editor for continuous news at The Washington Post, said his team solicits breaking news from reporters in the field, "especially during peak web traf- fichoursof9amto5pm."He aims to increase the flow of origi- nal staff files to the web to distin- guish the paper's coverage from that of other publications. My American colleague Pro- fessor Bob Papper had been predicting since the turn of the century that within a generation (that's about 30 years) the paper version of daily newspapers in America would be a subsidiary or off-shoot of the online edition. That is, most of the editorial energy would go into producing the online edition, and the print edition would appear every few days or weekly, as a summary of the best of the online content. Print editions of newspapers will not disappear -- advertisers like them too much as a vehicle for distributing their wares. But we will see hybrid editions soon enough. Many factors will con- tribute to this evolution, such as increasing costs of petrol and distribution mechanisms, the needs of advertisers for papers to produce specialised editions and the desire for websites to com- pete with broadcasting for adver- tising dollars. In a world of increasingly loud voices, the need for quality voic- es will be even more vital. Time to open another bottle of wine to consider these thoughts. Stephen Quinn is the associate professor of journalism, Deakin university. Making your message loud and clear So marketing attracts people to a site. But we need dynamic, updated and relevant content to get them to come back. Content is no longer king; quality and unique content is royal blood. The same principle applies on news web sites.