editor on the verge

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

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Keep them coming back for more – UPDATED

January 11th, 2008 · 5 Comments

Primaries and caucuses can be a traffic boon for newspaper websites. The days leading up to Election Day, the day of and even the days immediately thereafter can bring thousands and thousands of new unique visitors and possibly tens of thousands additional page views (and many, many, many more for larger papers).

While most newsrooms are great when it comes to planning content to draw people to their sites, how many really focus on content that will keep them coming back? The question seems to be how do you transition an occasional visitor to your site to a regular visitor? Think about what keep just 2 or 3 percent of those new visitors would mean to your stats. So, what are you going to do to keep them?

Online staffs in New Hampshire, Iowa and Michigan, what did you do? What worked and what didn’t? What advice would you have for newspapers in states that haven’t gone on this fun ride yet?

6:08 p.m. (EST) Thank you Shawn (see comments) for pointing out that Michigan hasn’t happened yet. It is Wyoming that help their Republican primary on Jan. 5. So Wyoming newspapers, what tips do you have?

→ 5 CommentsTags: Analytics · Audience Development · Best Practices · Branding · Industry · Innovation · Online

Dreaming of a pay day

January 10th, 2008 · 3 Comments

I have to say that I’m surprised that there are still news organizations even contemplating a pay model.

While reading the Terms of Service (I know, I know, hold the lectures about the geekiness of reading TOS) for one of my local newspapers, I came across this gem:

“Currently, service is free to all users . . . reserves the right to charge for this service in the future.”

Intrigued, I Googled the “…charge for this Service…” portion of the phrase and discovered that there are still a few publications publicly holding on to this fleeting dream, including:

Now if I recall correctly, the New York Times not that long ago dropped their pay wall and today the Wall Street Journal dropped pay access for the opinion portion of their site en-route to the much anticipated and likely overall abandonment of their pay model. So that leaves?????

So what do you think, are my local newspaper and these other sites dreaming of one day collecting something similar to the WSJ.com’s $99 annual fee or is this just a case of sloppy TOS?

→ 3 CommentsTags: Best Practices · Industry · Local Newspapers · Online

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!

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→ 2 CommentsTags: Audience Development · Blogging · Branding · Industry · Innovation · Online

What type of RSS newsfeeds do you serve?

January 9th, 2008 · 10 Comments

Does your site offer complete meals or just a tasting menu? The debate over partial versus full RSS feeds is far from new, but is just as relevant today. And as more newspapers, thankfully, offer RSS feeds, the issue is worth reexamining.

This is another topic where, I believe, the online practices of newspapers are in contrast to those of their readers. According to a 2007 Bivings Report entitled “American Newspapers and the Internet; Threat or Opportunity?”, 96 of the top 100 newspaper websites they visited use RSS technology. Of those, 93 offer partial feeds and only three offer full feeds.

Conventional wisdom has been, and I don’t see why this wouldn’t be the case for newspapers, that a full feed would reduce the number of clickthroughs and negatively impact page views and therefore revenue. In theory, that makes sense. Offer a partial feed and people who want to read more of a story will click the link and wind up on your site (and possibly go on to click even more). Offer a full feed and people will read the story and move on without ever visiting your site.

But evidently in this case, theory does not meet practice. Last April, Rick Klau, VP of Publishing Services at FeedBurner wrote:

“As people subscribe to feeds, they subscribe to more feeds. And that means they’re consuming more content, which means that each click out of the feed reader is taking the reader away from more content. In other words, feed reading is consumption-oriented, not transactionally focused. We’ve seen no evidence that excerpts on their own drive higher clickthroughs.”

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→ 10 CommentsTags: Analytics · Best Practices · Blogging · Branding · Industry · RSS · Traffic