editor on the verge

Online musings from the newsroom and beyond . . . by Yoni Greenbaum

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A second life for online content

January 10th, 2008 · 2 Comments

Is it a bad thing if the New York Times is repurposing blog content for print?

On Wednesday, New York Observer Leon Neyfakh, reported in his “Off the Record” column that the Times was planning on printing portions of the “City Room” blog in the daily newspaper.

“While items from City Room are regularly repackaged as Metro stories and published in the paper—three short dispatches from Albany might be synthesized into one article for the next day’s paper . . . articles from the blog that run in the print edition could appear under a clearly marked “City Room” banner,” Neyfakh wrote.

This would not be the first time that the Times has repurposed online content for print, two other blogs, Bits and the Caucus, regularly appear “in the print edition in the form of discrete columns.”

According to Neyfakh, part of the thinking at the Times is that reverse-publishing the blog will “give more exposure to the City Room brand” and “drive print readers to the Web site.”

Well good for the New York Times!

Personally, I would like to see more publications not just working harder to drive more print readers to the web, but also repurposing more web content for print.

The first point should be obvious; newspapers have two audiences that don’t completely overlap, so here’s a great opportunity to increase online audience by leveraging print audience. In-print promotions or teasers and house ads are great but I don’t think they can compete with quality content in terms of demonstrating to print readers what they can expect online. Kind of like a car brochure can’t replace the experience of a test drive.

As for the second point, I’ve previously written about how I don’t think it makes sense to keep filling the “A” section with outdated and possibly irrelevant wire copy, one of the most popular objections is that if newspapers were to make this change, they wouldn’t have enough content to fill the pages. Well, BINGO! Here’s a great opportunity to showcase your online content and help fill those pages. In addition to reverse-publishing blogs (ala New York Times) what about

  • Publishing excerpts from online forums? In-print game coverage could include excerpts of fans debating their favorite play from your sports forum or political coverage could include readers commenting on the issues of the day.
  • Including online comments with the print story. Show print readers some of the online reaction and invite them to have their say on your site.
  • Online Poll results. Use your online polls to frame your print issues.

What’s great about these approaches is that they don’t require an expansion of the existing news-hole and allow you to take advantage of existing resources.

And let’s not forget the revenue-generating reverse-publishing possibilities. Everything from car sales to real estate can find a place in this model.

If you’re already reverse-publishing or doing something similar to what I’ve suggested, let me know how it’s going.

Tags: Audience Development · Blogging · Branding · Industry · Innovation · Online

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Rodrigo // Jan 12, 2008 at 11:47 am

    The reverse-blog thing has been going on regularly for several months in South Africa’s biggest paper, the Sunday Times. They call it something like “Blogumnists”. Another SA papert, the Mail & Guardian, also does it. So the NYTimes things isn’t that unique.
    You can find so info on the S.Times blogs-to-columns somewhere in The Wild Frontier, the blog of the editor of the paper’s weekly edition. His been publishing the blog since the paper started running on weekdays, at mid year in 2007 and he has explained quite a few things about running the multimedia outfit.


  • 2 BingoLive // Dec 4, 2008 at 1:17 am

    The first point should be obvious that newspapers have two audiences that don?t completely overlap. So here?s a great opportunity to increase online audience by leveraging print audience.

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