editor on the verge

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

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When it comes to online staffing newspapers should play to win

December 24th, 2007 · 4 Comments

Although most newspaper companies appear set on a path that now includes significant emphasis on developing online products, just how they accomplish that varies from company to company. While some newspapers are seeking out partnerships, albeit even bad ones, others are going at it alone, building their staffs and charting their own courses.

All these companies have a long ways to go before they start to reap significant rewards, and along the way some of the decisions they make are drawing the ire of bloggers, colleagues and even employees. For example, Howard Owens recently wrote about the decision of MediaNews Group to outsource their comments management to topix.com.

“The last thing you should do is outsource community participation,” he wrote.

I agree with him (and said as much on his blog) and would argue that this is an example of a newspaper company wrestling with a difficult issue and ultimately making the bad choice.

To me, it seems that when it comes to online, there are many, many difficult issues for newspapers to wrestle with.

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→ 4 CommentsTags: Advertising · Industry · Innovation · Online

Are your newspaper racks working for or against you?

December 22nd, 2007 · 7 Comments

I don’t know about you, but I would never buy something from a store whose sign was falling off, that had graffiti scrawled on its walls, a window that can barely be seen through and a door that was dented — not to mention products that weren’t always current or were frequently sold out.

Yet everyday, newspaper companies throughout the country ignore local ordinances and expect readers to purchase papers from coin-operated newspaper racks that look just like the store I described above. Increasingly, they want customers to put more money into racks that may not work properly, may not even contain newspapers, look as if they were in an accident and are surrounded by trash. And management at these companies wonders why single copy sales aren’t growing?

I think that the industry needs to give more thought to how they treat their customers.

I know lots of attention at most newspapers goes into customer service. They fret about how much time callers spend on hold or the number of times they are transfered. They guarantee delivery by a certain time, they even worry about how dirty reader’s hands get while reading the paper. So shouldn’t they have the same degree of concern for where they sell their newspapers? If a bricks and mortar store wanted to sell newspapers and looked like the place I described in my lede, would a newspaper really let them sell their papers?

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→ 7 CommentsTags: Best Practices · Branding · Industry · Innovation · Local Newspapers

Dear Santa, from your favorite newsroom

December 21st, 2007 · No Comments

Dear Santa

As folks whose lives are shaped by deadlines, we are sorry we are writing to you so close to yours. We know that, by now, you have received most of your requests, but Santa our newsroom has been really, really busy — producing evergreen copy and the pages that will fill our holiday papers. We hope that despite our tardiness you’ll still consider this appeal.

Now Santa, we want you to know that we think we’ve been really good this year and we hope you realize just how difficult that was. Ours is a challenging industry and being good takes lots and lots of effort. But we’ve listened to our editors and respected our copy editors. We’ve played nice with other reporters and even stopped making fun of the photographers. We no longer say things about the web people behind their backs.

We know that you receive lots of letters from people saying just how much stuff they need, and that ours is just another in the pile, but we hope you will recognize the uniqueness of our situation. See Santa, it’s been a difficult year for our industry, despite profit margins that make most businesses jealous, at times it seemed like everything but us was bad – revenue, advertising and circulation. As a result, there wasn’t so much cheer to go around our office, the holiday spirit was truly challenged.

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→ No CommentsTags: Advertising · Industry · Local Newspapers

Weird, but not bad company

December 20th, 2007 · No Comments

I never thought that I would see my name or this blog mentioned in a story along with David Byrne and Brian Eno, but thanks to the Post Standard (Syracuse, NY), I have. And you know, it looks pretty good.

→ No CommentsTags: Blogging · Editor on the verge · Industry · Mission