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The big philosophical question -- newspapers and the web

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by BB Bobcat, Aug 26, 2008.

  1. BB Bobcat

    BB Bobcat Active Member

    A strange thing happened to me last night at a baseball game. I had just filed my write-thru and I was blogging, so I googled my own name to try to find something I had written a while back.

    The first story that came up on google was...

    The game story that I'd just filed 20 minutes ago!!! With quotes and everything.

    It amazed me not so much that it was already on my paper's web site, but that it was already searchable through google. My story was there quicker than the MLB.com story on the same game.

    It got me thinking: If we can get our news on the web that quick, as quick or quicker than the web sites that are supposedly killing us, why can't we figure out a way to make money like they are?

    As an aside (perhaps should be another thread): I remember a few years ago when people didn't want stories from the next day's paper to be posted on the web so quickly, for competitive reasons. It seems to me those days are pretty much over. If you have a big scoop, better to put it on the web ASAP, even if it means tipping off others and them getting the same story in the next day's print edition. True?
  2. yes. "as first reported on xxxx.com" has become the new scoop line.
  3. Joe Williams

    Joe Williams Well-Known Member

    Oh yeah, all true. It's the equivalent of McDonald's standing at the curb and, sensing that you might be driving to Burger King, throwing a burger down your throat for free.

    The papers need to gang up on Google, brass knuckles preferred. At least Yahoo! has hired some of its own people, who go out and gather stories and contribute to the overall discusssion. Google is a freeloader and a user, plain and simple.
  4. in what sense, joe? yahoo has made the business decision to attact people to its portal with original content. google always has been and always will be a search engine and aggregator of sorts. apples and pears, sir.
  5. Joe Williams

    Joe Williams Well-Known Member

    Guess I'm not a fan of aggregators. Seems like they're leeching off those who actually work and those who actually pay for that work.
  6. i still don't understand how they are leeching off us, joe.

    if there is a story i want to know about out there and i know the media outlet covering it, i'll simply go to the respective web site. but if it's about something in a market i don't know, i'll go to news.google.com first, check out the headline options and go on my merry way. i'm giving that site a click, some ad revenue. as much as i would be if i plunked down 50 cents? no, but we've already fought that battle (and, apparently, lost).
  7. Bob Cook

    Bob Cook Active Member

    Google is an enormous traffic driver, the one that anyone and everyone salivates over. If you're not on the first two pages of search results, you don't exist, and neither does your business or ad revenue. A booming industry is search engine optimization--how to get yourself ranked highly on the Google search. So you might be alone in considering Google a leech.
  8. Joe Williams

    Joe Williams Well-Known Member

    Stood alone before, Bob. Folks at Google, from what I've read, take a "why should we cover news when we can use everybody else's content?" for their news home page. If a reader is using that as his/her portal, they're probably not poking around individual sites in ways that encourage advertisers, so the ad revenues flow more to Google. If I'm wrong in this, feel free to set me straight.

    I love Google as a search engine, but a place with its financial health wouldn't have much news to offer if it weren't leaning on places that are facing financial crises. Something seems off.
  9. joe_schmoe

    joe_schmoe Active Member

    First, googling your own name eh? You egomaniac!!!!

    Okay now seriously. The web has definitely changed the game. Our paper still considers a few things when breaking news. If we put up a breaking story on the news will it give time for the competitors to get it as well? The big concern here is with TV. If we put up a scoop late and another newspaper gets it, they won't have time to do as a good of a story as we have, so we pretty much ignore them. How big is the news? And how exclusive? I mean a lot of breaking news can come from sources that you know don't work with others.

    Sometimes it's not a big deal and we just save it for print.

    All that being said, I am kind of surprised that our sales staff hasn't developed a strong strategy for targeting web business. I think the big problem is a lot of advertisers still kind of feel that to advertise on the web, they too need to be on the web, and many of our local businesses don't have websites. I know one T station who went to fix this problem with its own webteam. They developed webpages for advertisers as part of the deal with them and hosted them through their server for a set period of time. It benefits both sides.

    And I kind of wonder why more places don't take advantage of things like Google or Yahoo ads. If nothing else the income there can help offset the cost of hosting a site. And at places like SportsJournalists.com, I'm sure the money is rolling in so quickly that Google hasn't stopped writing a daily check yet.
  10. Bob Cook

    Bob Cook Active Member

    That's a how-people-use-the-web problem more than a Google problem. Most news sites get their traffic from searches, mostly Google. That's because users are searching for specific topics, not specific news sites. If you're fortunate, you can keep readers around longer and get them to form the habit of going to your site.

    Any readers that come to your site, no matter how they come, is potential revenue for your site. The problem is how to measure and sell those eyeballs. Or how to figure out the niche you're selling to, the one most likely to enter the site through your home page.
  11. mustangj17

    mustangj17 Active Member

    Do you use google? Because I do. Its my main search engine, and it hosts my email, I also use google maps and frequently use google image search.
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