Comments


  • I don't know that intergrading with the websites you mentioned is a good idea or not. Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter are LARGE-POPULAR sites with ENORMOUS amounts of TRAFFIC. They are great outlets for business owners to use and promote websites, however, I don't know that this should be the goal of the VA. Looking to network with other sites is important but I believe a newspaper should be looking for COMMITTED "readers"-first and for most- simply because, they're dependable and will always be around.
    The fashion of sites like those that you mentioned will be their publicity and "one-hit" wonder mentality that keeps them alive temporally. If you plan on the Victoria Advocate being online, many years to come, I'd stick to what you’re doing now and "depend" on customer LOYALTY FIRST!

    April 14, 2009 at 10:22 p.m.

  • I think there is not only room for both (print media and website) But a demand for both. I do not see the web news access site replacing the newspaper anytime soon. But as readership goes down, newspaper prices must increase to cover the cost of staying in business. Then there will be a shift more toward electronic coverage of both local and world news. As Pilot said the writing is on the wall.We have moved from land line phones to cell phones, from telegrams and handwritten letters(Boy I miss them) to e-mail and we will move from printed paper news to the internet. Since the internet is worldwide, local events will need a site where they are ready viewable by the local citizens. This is where a social networking site will come into play. Gone are days of sitting on the front porch talking to your friends. The internet will replace that. Tweeting to your friends where you are going to be and what your dog is doing is the new way. This was foretold years ago in science fiction and as we all know sci-fie has a way of coming true. And it has also foretold the social networking element of our future. But for the immediate future I think a twofold approach(print and website) is the way that we will continue to receive our news. But to answer your question Chris ,Yes you must continue your development of a website with social interaction as a part of it to remain on the cutting edge. Otherwise your paper will fall by the wayside as have 3 others have done this year.

    April 13, 2009 at 10:39 a.m.

  • All,

    A great and helpful discussion. Thank you.

    I don't want to leave anyone with the impression we want to create another myspace or facebook. They provide a frame of reference because they already exist, but I hope our efforts in social media go in an entirely new direction centered around creating a local information network.

    For example, sites we've discussed are individual ones for each community within our region. These sites would be combine the power of traditional reporting with relevant databases and content contributed by users.

    For whatever we do, the challenge is to allow individuals to tailor the local information network to best suit their needs. You know what you want to read or share. We want to make that easier for you.

    April 13, 2009 at 7:27 a.m.

  • Okay, I think we may have zigged when we should have zagged. Create away with whatever on your website. You are entitled to do just that.

    It is the process and possible method of participation in whatever the finished product is that has me posting.

    If I am going to respond to a comment by legion357, I want to do that without have to make him one of my friends or contacts or whatever we might be called. Nothing against legion, just not feeling connected. VBB, even though we've butted heads, would definitely make my list.

    It is very similar to the last incarnation (v.2) of the forum. We had friends, with pictures even! But I didn't accept every request for someone to be my friend. It was optional.

    Don't you think there is enough catagorizing already going on as it is (who could possibly forget this past national election?) without the forum encouraging more of that?

    April 13, 2009 at 6:51 a.m.

  • Chris - We don't want to try and build a sub-community under tha umbrella of a traditional newspaper site. That would be like every Walmart having a Sam's Club in it. Rather we need to explore outsite the traditional site for more audience.

    To your last question, I believe that a newspaper website will always be a newspaper website. A site with, in the Victoria Advocate's case, with over 160 years of tradition. This tradition is a great thing with loyal readers that have lots to contribute to their community.

    With that said, there is still people that will not find a newspaper website appealing. It is our duty to provide the platform for these people to feel like they belong. As I have said, I am a frequent to Faceboobk and not Twitter. Facebook fits my lifestyle.

    April 13, 2009 at 6:28 a.m.

  • When debating what the newspaper will or won't become, please consider this . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    30 years ago, we would have scoffed at the idea of someone being able to post a comment to a newspapers website

    April 12, 2009 at 11:48 p.m.

  • VBB--nicely said. I agree with you about the middle-aged folks. I just don't see the 'core' of the readership embracing the technology and new offerings. Some will, most won't.

    In any event, I do not see teens and young adults suddenly taking up the Victoria Advocate because of the new lures. Again, some will, most won't. They are not going to give up Facebook and MySpace--they have invested way too much time in it.

    And I have no idea what those kids are going to do when the teacher requires newpaper articles for class...show her the phone?

    April 12, 2009 at 11:14 p.m.

  • Personally speaking. I don't see Vicad becoming a facebook or myspace clone (at least I hope not)

    BUT if twitter or facebook can allow me to keep up with the victoria advocate or the commercial appeal or the jackson sun when I am far removed from those entities, then so be it.

    Yes, I would rather have the paper in my hands, but times have changed. News reporting has changed.

    I remember back when you could watch the network "nightly news" at 5:30. and then your local "nightly news" at 6:00. And the "local news" had 5 minutes of "network" content.

    Likewise, the "local" paper covered local news. It wasn't chock full of AP/UPI bylines. There were reporters covering city council meetings in EVERY little burg in the coverage area. And if Farmer Brown in Podunkville had a 2 headed cow, it was the major story in the Ag report.

    Every Stock on the NYSE was listed, and stocks of "local interest" had their own little box.

    You could read every obit in the covered area, and it listed every family member that had ever lived.

    But times, and The Times have changed. For better or worse, yesterday is gone.

    April 12, 2009 at 11:06 p.m.

  • I have to agree with Smartee on this. If I want a site where I have to have a friends list, etc...then I already have 2 that fit that description. If this site turns into something akin to that, I will find a new site. This site has already lost some of its online community, possibly due to new design, that will kill it all together. Seems like the people on here are middle aged & have an interest in the news. If I only wanted peoples opinions that are like mine, I would visit right wing sites, not a community newspaper.

    April 12, 2009 at 10:25 p.m.

  • Okay, I guess we can just agree that we will not agree on this topic.

    I can't help but chuckle when you bring in the simplicity angle. High school students can't spell because of spell checker. When is the last time you had a sales clerk under the age of 45 count your change back to you? How much time have you wasted at a computer when you know you could have done it quicker manually? Yea! Simplicity!

    And I absolutely do not talk to folks at the grocery store because of the Victoria Advocate. I talk to folks at the grocery store because either I know them, or there is some other appropriate reason to speak to them. If I had a tip, I think I would call the authorities, not the newspaper. You employ folks to find the news, do you not?

    I realized I am not embracing all this technology warmly, but I find it sad that while you seem to think all of this enhances communication, all I see is a decline and decay of communication--folks who would rather text mispelled words to talk to loved ones, folks who cannot enjoy quiet time because they must answer the cell phone, and folks who simply have no interpersonal communication skill whatsoever.

    My opinion--you disagree, but I know there is some validity to mine.

    April 12, 2009 at 10:14 p.m.

  • Towen,

    I agree about creating niches for like-minded people such as a moms site or a pet site. But how do we create these many different niches within the umbrella of a community site? Can the skin of a news site change enough to leverage the power of the Internet and not be limited by the traditions of print?

    April 12, 2009 at 10:02 p.m.

  • Smartee,

    I agree social networking is not for everyone. I also think the goal is simplicity. A community newspaper has long been about social networking, whether that's people saying hello at the grocery store or phoning in a tip. The trick is to use technology to enhance that conversation, not to complicate or diminish it.

    We do our jobs better as journalists when our readers are letting us know what's going on and what stories they'd like to see covered. We want our site to be strong so that this conversation continues here rather than elsewhere.

    April 12, 2009 at 9:57 p.m.

  • I have been building newspaper web sites for ten plus years, and I believe that a newspaper website will remain a newspaper website that attracts the same audience no matter what "skin" you put on it.

    Some of the best examples of using social media in the newspaper industry have been outside the confines of the newspaper site walls.

    Lets take a look at what the Indy Star has done with its www.IndyMoms.com and www.IndyPaws.com sites. They realized that there were undeserved audiences around these two themes and then preceded to develop a content & production plan that supported them.

    Social media is best used to build niches around themes and then aggregate the audience into one BIG audience that an advertiser can buy. And yes, the “newspaper website” is another one of these niches.

    April 12, 2009 at 9:53 p.m.

  • One of the factors influencing my opinion of this is the amount of time that must commit to these activities. You guys at the Advocate can spend all day looking at this as part of your normal workday. I, on the other hand, work at a job where I schedule appointments with people all day long. When am I supposed to sit on the computer, cell phone or whatever?

    I don't text now, I seriously doubt that I will ever Twitter. I don't even own a cell phone. I make do with the one from my employer. I haven't signed on to Facebook today. Yet, somehow, I still know that my elderly parents are doing well today, a friend in Belton sent an Easter greeting, I visited (in person) with 16 relatives today, I kissed my sweet grandchild numerous times today, worked the Sudoku and both crosswords in today's Advocate and watched 'Meet the Press'.

    So tell me again why I need my newspaper to be my social networking place.

    April 12, 2009 at 9:46 p.m.

  • Fatboy,

    So right you are. I think we're just scratching the surface of how mobile will change media.

    April 12, 2009 at 9:19 p.m.

  • Smartee,

    That's a fair question. Can we be both? We're taking this 10-week course as one effort to better answer that question. My thought is we can be both, but we still have a great deal to learn. I plan to continue this conversation as we go along and gather ideas from our readers. Thank you.

    April 12, 2009 at 9:10 p.m.

  • its the teens who have set the norm. what ever they use is what we as parents what to learn.

    twitter is for business and facebook is adult, imo.

    teens/kids change thier myspace looks without help and drag things over there and uplink or download this or that and communicate w/ thier own lingo that to me it seems pretty kewl.

    i would say the 3g phones will be a big part of the next evolution of social behavior. heck mine has a myspace icon on it already and i dont even have acct. lol

    April 12, 2009 at 9:04 p.m.

  • I don't care for facebook or myspace, have accounts at both. I like it here, good or bad, I enjoy everyones opinion.

    April 12, 2009 at 9:02 p.m.

  • So I wasn't so far off--yes, I'd be in control. But--if I want to interact with any poster who is not in my 'circle of friends', I've got to add them until I end up with a host friends that I didn't want in my circle of friends to begin with.

    I do Facebook, too. 75% of my interaction with others on that site is inane blips of comments. And we are not discussing local issues. Hell, we're not even discussing issues, we're challenging each other to take this quiz or that quiz, and we find out that it is connected to a cell phone company and then they bother us forever.

    I guess my question is this--Are you a NEWSPAPER, or are you social networking site? I really do not believe you can be both. I don't go to Facebook for the news. And I don't catch up with my friends on the Advocate forums.

    April 12, 2009 at 8:55 p.m.

  • All good points, Enjay. Thank you.

    Via Twitter, I came across this New York Times article tonight: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/13/tec...

    It elaborates on the new direction in media.

    April 12, 2009 at 8:49 p.m.

  • Okay,
    1. the "growth" in social networking over the past 6 years. Highly understandable, considering that Twitter, Facebook, and Myspace DID NOT exist 6 years ago. Businesses recognized that a lot of their customers were using these sites and started using them also.
    2. As for the growth in "Over 35" age group on Facebook in the past 60 days. Let's see: 38, 43, 48, 53, 58, 63, 68 are going to be holding class reunions (or not) this year. 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, and 50 yr class reunions. I haven't seen over 5 of my classmates in the last 10 years. But since I joined Facebook recently, I have reconnected, at least internetly, with 20 or so of my 126 classmates, Some of whom I will hopefully be seeing on my trip to visit "back home" this summer. Also have exchanged comments with some family I haven't seen in 10-20 years.
    3. Smartphones have helped fuel the boom. With cell phones being made more 'tech' able, and internet access from said phones becoming more affordable, a "data" contract is becoming a more logical solution for mobile travelers. Whether they are waiting in the airport, waiting for their prescription to be ready at Walgreens, waiting in the doctors office, or waiting for their car to be finished at Wal-Mart Tire & Lube.
    The Internet and http://m.facebook.com or http://m.victoriaadvocate.com are now in the palm of your hand

    April 12, 2009 at 8:28 p.m.

  • Legion,

    It sounds as if you're a lot more active on this site than you are on Facebook. Why? What do you like about using this site? We want to be sure we keep those features as we add others. Thanks.

    April 12, 2009 at 7:47 p.m.

  • Smartee,

    My thought is you'd be in control. You could choose to interact with everyone on the site as you do now. Or you could choose to limit your interactions to those with similar interests. You could exclude those you think are not adding to the conversation. That would be an individual decision, as it is on Facebook. That's just one example of putting the users more in control of their experience. In that way, Advocate staffers wouldn't have to be patrolling as much. Instead, we'd have more time to interact about issues and ideas rather than worry about trolls.

    April 12, 2009 at 7:46 p.m.

  • I guess I don't get it, either. If one's interaction on the forums is dependent on who our "friends" are, and we can only interact with them, OR we have to be "friends" with anyone we want to reply to, forget it--I'm out. Too much trouble and too time consuming. I understand how Advocate staff spends 24/7 on the website--it's your job. My boss isn't as lenient as yours is, though, and he expects me to actually work.

    You guys can't even get this current stuff right--what makes you think we would all look forward to something that has the potential to be very disorganized and cumbersome?

    April 12, 2009 at 7:21 p.m.

  • Sorry Chris, I guess my post was more in line with what Pilot said.

    I have a Facebook account, all of three friends, it's not something I spend a lot of time on.

    How to integrate social networking sites into news media? I have no idea.

    April 12, 2009 at 7:04 p.m.

  • Legion,

    I'd be happy to have a longer discussion on another thread about the size of the Monday and Tuesday print edition. The quick answer here: The size of any newspaper is determined by the amount of advertising it contains. Mondays and Tuesdays are slow advertising days, so these editions are smaller.

    I'd appreciate it, though, if we stick to the topic here: What aspects of social networking do you think would work well on a news site? For example, I'd like to enhance users' ability to control who they interact with, i.e., how Facebook allows you to confirm your friends.

    April 12, 2009 at 6:26 p.m.

  • Oops 4 pages of classifieds, not counted the front page of a recap of what is inside of it.

    April 12, 2009 at 6:20 p.m.

  • Well Chris, I understand the drop in advertiser in the print edition given the current economy. But the Monday edition of the print version of the Advocate has reduced itself to less pages than the thrifty nickle.

    Usually 9 pages A section ( two folds and 1 extra in the middle), 4 pages in the crossroads B section (two folds, that's it), maybe and a big maybe, 4 pages (two folds) of sports. And no even a fourth section except classified which is usually ( and I understand) 8 pages ( two folds).
    21 pages tops, the bag it's in and the gas the carrier uses to deliver it cost more than the whole paper does.

    April 12, 2009 at 6:18 p.m.

  • Mike,

    You present well the dilemma for a news site and a newspaper. Readers tend to merge the two, even though they are distinctly different creatures.

    You and I have talked before about how the shift by advertisers to glossy preprints in the 1970s reduced the newsprint pages of all newspapers. I agree that was a lamentable development, but it's ancient history.

    You don't live within our coverage area, but you're an active member of our Web site. That makes you a good example of a demographic news sites haven't really monetized. Unfortunately, news sites still haven't found a business model.

    We aim through our site to do what works best in this medium: interactivity, immediacy and multimedia. We aim in print to do what works best there: a sense of place and permanence, context and community. We still devote, by far and away, more resources to reporting and producing the printed newspaper than any other media outlet in the Crossroads region.

    Our strategy is to remain the dominant media player in both worlds by building audience in many new ways. It might make some of our traditional print readers such as yourself happier if we created an exact duplicate online of what we do in print. It also would be cheaper and simpler to simply shovel content from print to online. We don't see that as a growth opportunity, however.

    We will, though, have an electronic edition soon that I hope you'll like from your home in Houston. Until then, I hope you and others will share what aspects of social networking appeals to you at the VictoriaAdvocate.com and elsewhere.

    April 12, 2009 at 5:26 p.m.