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    Success of ‘going negative’ changes campaign strategies
    [ # ] “I pity the fool”
    April 24th, 2007 under Guest Post

    By Nathan Rodriguez - Blog Link 

    Only fools believe they have all the right answers.

    A more pragmatic approach to dealing with any problem is to either consult an expert or read up on it before you shoot from the hip and land in arrears.

    It’s interesting to watch—in a twisted social experiment sort of way—how some major newspapers are tilting at the online windmill in an attempt to relive the glory days of the industry.

    “Maybe we should charge for online access?” they think. Think again. Kids these days don’t like paying when they don’t have to. It may have become cliché to claim that the “younger generation” doesn’t read newspapers. That doesn’t mean they aren’t tuned in, they’re simply going elsewhere. And, chances are, they get their information free of charge. Making the decision to charge online readers for content won’t win many eyeballs, let alone the hearts and minds that sustain online communities.

    Instead of staring backwards at the past for answers, or shaking down Generation X and Next for loose change—that’s like trying to squeeze blood from a turnip—progressive or fiscally-minded news organizations should look at some successful online companies for answers.

    Jambase is one example of an online company that “made it big.” It was started from scratch in 1998 and now has more than half a million unique visitors a month, and around 2 million page views each week. The site is free of charge for all users, and offers a variety of ways to personalize the site for each visitor. Despite not charging anyone for content, the company is still making decent coin: good enough for a little over a dozen people to work full-time in a downtown San Francisco office.

    Online monetization isn’t really that complicated. More clicks equal more ad revenue. That’s it.

    The difference between what Jambase experienced and what the newspaper industry is facing is significant: newspapers actually have a head start with product placement. Instead of thinking about “print” and “online” like oil and water, news organizations should embrace online evolution as a natural outgrowth of the industry. Get the smart folks at the company in the same room, brainstorm about hyperlocalism for a solid hour or two, and then get crackin’ on the website: if you build it, they will come.

    A defeatist attitude about progress accomplishes nothing. Maybe a little Churchill will inspire, then: “The pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”

    Online journalism today isn’t just about bloggers sitting in their parents’ basement, doing haphazard drive-by’s on mainstream media. It’s about scratching an itch that no one else can quite reach.

    It’s not that the pajamas media is any better or different than the printed word folks either. They just happened to figure it out first…out of necessity.

    Newspapers that are thinking of charging for online content are inhabiting a fool’s paradise. The past is gone, and it took its economic model back with it.

    Mr. T may be known for saying “I pity the fool,” but he also said “It takes a smart guy to play dumb.” Once again, Mr. T saves the day. Let’s just hope the big wigs tuned in.

    News organizations need to suck up their bloated sense of pride and take a couple notes from the proven online heavyweights. You can still claim that the idea came from your conference room: just leave out the part about turning on the computer


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    The Dole Institute of Politics is a bipartisan facility. Our mission; to encourage political and civic involvement, especially among young people; to encourage civil discussion on important issues; to emphasize that politics is an honorable profession; and to provide opportunities for all to interact with political leaders, practitioners and writers.
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    A Summary of the 2006 Blogger-Reader Survey

    Fall 2006 Blogger/Reader Survey Details and Research Reports
    ******
    In December of 2006 Dr. Dhavan Shah of the University of Wisconsin and his “Blogclub” of graduate students and Dr. David D. Perlmutterof the University of Kansas conducted a survey of major political blogs and their readers. The project was partially sponsored by a grant from the Knight/Carnegie Foundation’s Future of Journalism initiative. The summary of the results are posted here--please fully cite us if you refer to the findings.

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