“If you build it, they will come,” goes the line from the popular Kevin Costner film “Field of Dreams.” Too often though, when it comes to online news operations, that line should read “if you don’t tell anyone you built it, will they still come?”
Increasingly newspaper websites are embracing social news/networking sites. You see the New York Times on YouTube, the Minneapolis Star Tribune on Twitter and the Mercury News on Facebook, just to name a few combinations. Some newsrooms would likely call these endeavors “experiments,” while others would say that they’re real “initiatives.”
All these efforts share one specific thing in common, none of them (as far as I can tell) are being publicized. Visit nytimes.com and you won’t find a link to their YouTube profile nor does the startribune.com tell you how to find them on Twitter. As opposed to what we do on blogs, with promotional links and buttons and badges, newspaper websites offer nothing. Why go through the effort of creating and populating these profiles and not tell anyone where you are?
Yes, people are finding newspaper’s profiles on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook or MySpace, but in many cases they’re happening on them by accident — call it serendipity. But why make it this difficult? Why not tell people what sites you are on and how to find you?
So, what’s stopping your newspaper?
UPDATE: It is only fair for me to recognize one of my own newspapers at Ottaway which is addressing this issue. The Times Herald-Record promotes their YouTube profile from their multimedia page. They even use this great button: