The online medium has drastically changed the way news is perceived. Gone are the days that people read the paper for the latest and greatest. Television took care of that. But for even more real-time unfiltered action, we turned to the Internet. And with each younger generation, the more the Internet plays as part of their daily lives and the less of the other modes of communication.
So what is the newspaper industry doing right versus wrong? I believe that understanding the online medium is definitely a good step. But there are also issues that could be used between the mediums, and others that the medium has special rules for. Take for example, layout. I have heard a lot of online people talk about how the layout for newspapers cannot be used in a similar application as online. But I disagree.
A clean layout is useful in any application. In a newspaper, your ads are fixed, but online they can rotate. So the spots don’t move around. In newspaper, the pages can turn and ads shifted, but in online, usually the ads are in similar spots and there is more real estate from top to bottom. There is not the issue with length of article anymore like with print, but the clean look still needs to be represented just as print. No one wants to read a newspaper that has ads everywhere, and likewise with online.
A difference would be how advertising is tracked. In normal publishing, it’s based on dollar amounts by advertisers. Your readers are a set group that takes it in and the publisher focuses only on the monetary numbers to judge. In online, there is a statistic called unique visitors. These are the actual numbers that can effect any sort of advertisement so instead of focusing on the amount of money you generate, you have to focus on how to gain as many eyeballs on the news site as possible. The more, the merrier since by probability, it gives better ROI for the advertisers. All online advertisers pay attention to uniques and pageviews. Here, the difference between uniques and pageviews versus a newspaper reader is not all that much different except the former is a free viewer of the news, and the second is a subscription based or buyer of news. That trivial fact changes the way you must perceive tracking numbers in the online realm.
As newspapers keep migrating to the online medium, the more news changes from journalists to bloggers. The more the fight is to get real-time unfiltered news. And the look from monetizing the entire publication as similarities with websites that run affiliate advertising. Journalism isn’t about writing that great piece anymore. It’s about writing the great piece as fast as you can and hoping that someone clicks on something within that piece.