Some great ideas on bringing newspapers into Web 2.0.

I’m sure that when we look back in twenty years, we’ll see that some of our declining media were actually sitting on Web 2.0 gold mines that they failed to realise or tried to realise in ways that they completely bolloxed up.

Here are some great ideas proposed for the New York Times. Obviously one can’t be sure of the extent to which they could be turned to money making, but my thinking, and I think Google’s thinking is this:

The creation of free public goods like Google itself, or any of many subsidiary efforts like Google maps can generate massive, absolutely massive social utility. If you can capture a tiny fraction of that, you’re laughing. Go ahead, and see if you can make someone’s day – it might make yours.

This post from the online journalism review outlines Web 2.0 ideas for the NYT in the context of suggesting that this is one way to fight off Rupert M’s aspirations. The NYT in Murdoch’s hands would be a very sad state of affairs.

Here are some of the ideas.

  • Poll participants on what they consider the top 25 challenges globally and nationally. would announce and benchmark the choices to shape its day-to-day coverage. (The print Times would be free to decide how it wants to incorporate the choices in its coverage.)
  • Use crowdsourcing to help put together important but hard-to-assemble stories like a checklist of the most structurally deficient bridges in the U.S., or the biggest holes in domestic security. The site could create Google mash-ups to produce some stunning interactive maps that would compare the readiness of cities, especially ports and international entry points.
  • Produce more inside-outside content, like what happened when foreign-affairs columnist Nick Kristof held his Win a Trip With Nick Kristof contest.
  • Create or bring on board culturally adventurous blogs like Freakonomics and Club Troppo.
  • Open the door to editorial decision-making with a live video where participants can lob comments at board members… and maybe influence their positions on issues.
  • Let participants register on the site with their biographies and other personal information, a la MySpace and Facebook, and give them opportunities, with widgets, etc., to extend the menu well beyond its presently constricted state. The 12.5 million adult users who now come to include platinum-plus demographics, but also 3 million people who didn’t graduate from college, which gives the site some healthy diversity. Imagine the classifieds that those 12.5 million folks could post! How about looking for a man 1 who wants to help wipe out poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa?
  • Develop a network of local-local sub-sites across the U.S. With its millions of users spread across America, could jump-start hyperlocal coverage by helping citizen contributors produce content that goes beyond vacation photos and cheerleading-camp announcements. The Times deep editorial resources could be deployed, when needed, to mentor citizens retirees, stay-at-home moms and dads, and community activists who would be thrilled to be part of
  • It’s a truly exciting time to be alive.

    1. woman[]
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    16 years ago


    Nothing beats great journalism and news organizations with great resources. Blogs can’t get near this combination.

    Case in point:

    The NYTimes Iraqi correspondent is the best in the business- Michael F Burns. Almost everything he has ever written is compelling reading. I would live through several annoying ads just to get to his stuff.

    As I see it, news that is raw information has essentially become a commodity business these days.

    The thing that Blogs have done well is to offer alternatives to the op-ed section of the newpspapers. Combine a good blogger with interactivity and you end up with a terrific product. People like you, Parish, Don, Soon could easily run a great blog out one of the dailies.

    Those who survive are the ones that are able to transfer the great brand name onto a new medium.

    Look at Bolt. Now I appreciate he is not everyones cup of tea however he is possibly the one journalist in the old sense who has a made a full transition over to the new medium. He really is mostly a blogger these days by the looks of things and the column he runs is carrying less of his workload in terms of his time and effort. No, I don’t much read him, however I have observed the change.
    The way for them to make money is to still get eyeballs reading their stuff and the ads will come.

    16 years ago

    The NYT in Murdochs hands would be a very sad state of affairs.
    ???? As opposed to the NYT now? You could almost eliminate the editorial/opinion page and the paper would only improve.

    Compare with eg Fred Argy’s comment on the Australian.