Friday, May 25, 2007

Meanwhile, 45 miles west ...

The Shelby Star, with a circulation of about 15,000 and a staff of 19, is experimenting with some of the most innovative digital technologies in the industry. Use of blogs, moblogs, video and an integrated newsroom are among the innovations being rolled out.

So far, the changes made — the overhaul of the way the paper gathers, produces and publishes news – have generated an 84 percent increase in Web readers.

In addition, the Star is working on something called the Star Car – a WiFi-enabled mobile Internet reporting vehicle. The installation of this is scheduled for next month, with the launch coming in July.

Sez the publisher:

The second thing we're doing is really focusing on driving traffic on a day-to-day basis. We're learning to be strategic about not only what news we break, but how we break it.

We've tried to learn from TV news on this. They do a lot of teasing and 'holding back' on news and content to lure viewers into their newscasts. We're doing the same thing — dribbling out information, sometimes slower than at the pace we actually collect that information, to encourage users to revisit the site for updates. ...

All of this is contingent on monetising these increases in overall consumption of our products. How and when will that happen, I don't know, but I'm very confident it will happen and we'll continue to be strong news organisations that simply focus on multiple mediums.



Leslie Wilkinson said...

Ann Helms interviewed the Shelby Editor for the Other Papers group. Here's some of Ann's key findings from our report:
(Find the rest of our report in NWSJournalists//OTHER PAPERS)

Three pointers we could use:
1. Reporters and photographers with high-end cell phones can provide the very quick stream of raw info that online users want (“moblogging,” or blogging from mobile phones). Tip for doing it cheap: Have young staff train older ones on using the technology.

2. Reader-posted photos and reports can be a great way to build on local news. Theirs: Shelby is cutting trees; show us your photos and rate how they’re doing. Ours could be things like sending pix of worst litter spots or problems with school buildings.

3. You don’t necessarily need to reorganize staff if you’re willing to reorganize the way staff do their jobs. A relatively small investment of time doing multimedia can bring a much richer report.

Andria said...

We should note that the investment they're making in Shelby is R&D for the whole chain.
And they're selling picture ads from the website for a special printed section for high-school graduates. Their marketing folks get this web stuff.
I love that they have a forum thread discussing bears. And a video report of a police raid on the Amvets club. What a sense of place.