Picture of the Week

Picture of the Week
Anamorphic snowman

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Web is the ANSWER to print Part 2: Half blind children

This one is going to be a lot of the evidence I've witnessed and pieced together to come to my "great discovery." This is going to be like in some terribly convoluted spy movie where the plot suddenly becomes clear through a combination of strung together scenes that connect all of the pieces that really didn't make sense alone but somehow coalesce into something resembling an explanation. It's also only a few examples to keep it simple.

Small newspapers: SND has been making a big show of small newspapers lately because they are wildly successful by accident and for almost no reason. They have tiny staffs, no budget, limited range of talent and circulations often between 10,000 and 50,000, hardly anything close to the major metropolitan newspapers of our time. Yet, they continue to make a profit and produce content their readers eat up. The simple reason is that they corner their local market and almost by accident are able to produce niche content because that's all the people in those communities are interested in. Everything in these communities is audience specific so there's hardly any room to screw up.

Blogs: The gaining popularity of blogs has many people wondering "why the hell are blogs popular?" Simple question with insanely simple answer. Our very own web guy here said it himself (confusedly of course): "This blog is written from a communist perspective about the environment. He has a small following but a truly devoted audience that would follow him anywhere." This blog is SO audience specific that if the writer told everyone to commit mass suicide for the great good, they'd probably do it.

Magazines: Magazines make ungodly sums of money from advertisers so much so that they only have to charge $12 for a yearly subscription. This one is easy, each magazine - for the most part - has very small but specific audience they cater to and thus are wildly successful because those people will read the entire magazine cover to cover because everything in it is of interest to them. Yes magazines die but that's because they lack the content to drive them. FHM for example - if all you have is half naked woman and nothing else interesting people they're going to turn to free internet porn sooner than buy your magazine. Hmm, weird turnaround in that one, eh? LIFE also is an interesting point, people want stories not just pictures. LIFE rarely provided a good balance between the two, thus it failed.

Wall Street Journal: This ugly rag is one of few newspapers that still makes a huge profit in subscriptions. But by average standards it's ugly and boring - which would contradict the model that says pretty sells. However, take a look at what's in the paper and you'll see why. Not only is it exceptionally good writing that ignores the generic news formula, but it's also very specific storytelling that applies to business people. And more specifically, each story uses a person as its angle. Again, we see that audience specific content done well is what sells. And more importantly we see that people like to read.

Google: One of the most customizable resources on the web also the most used and most profitable: not an accident. If you can get exactly what you want delivered to your desktop everyday, why search anywhere else? Google has everything for everyone but a user can eliminate everything but what they want.

Average news Web site: Shitty, messy, list of links. Terribly designed abominations of the Internet. A shmorgousboard of everything piled into one place with little delineation between topics. Little to no dominance or hierarchy that helps people understand the news or consume it. However, provides more options for people but rarely leads to anything particularly good in an easy way. The most viewed things on news web sites are obits, police blotter, sports agate, photo galleries, blogs and violent hard news. Everything else is almost left untouched.

Average newspaper: For hard news, generally headlines, nutgrafs and other entry points are read then ignored. Readers have learned standard news writing and read the first two paragraphs, a few quotes and the ending. Almost all bite size information is consumed. Ads and photos are consumed. Well packaged and designed stories with good headlines, interesting ledes, a solid nutgraf and compelling stories are read.

These are just some of the half blind children in journalism. Some are obviously closer than others. But what it comes down to is that people don't want just pretty pictures or just good stories or just hard news or just good packaging. More importantly they don't want a random smattering of information. They want something well done and more important, custom tailored to them.

Stay tuned for more in
Part 3: ctrl+alt+x
Part 4: 7 piece suit
Part 5: 2+2= The Nevada Sagebrush

But for now, I need to process

1 comment:

Colin said...

Also of note, search engines (especially Google) love blogs. From an SEO point-of-view, they are brilliant, and they come wrapped in pretty wrapping paper, also known as RSS.