Local Interactive Strategies

How news is done in the early 21st century

Rob Curley dissects the Las Vegas Sun’s coverage of last’s week’s big hotel fire and offers up important lessons for those of us trying to keep local newspapers relevant in the 21st century.

It’s no secret I’m fan of Rob, both as a person and as a guy who invents cool stuff like’s On Being. I sure wish he’d post more often.

You should read the entire post, but here’s an excerpt relevant to anyone in the business, journalist or not:

It seems to me that in 2008, there are probably about five ways a local newspaper might cover a breaking local news event like this:

  • No. 1 — Throw some resources at it in real-time, becoming the definitive source online for the story as it is happening. Constant news updates. Great background info. Multimedia that is worth looking at — at the very least, some decent photo galleries if you’re not going to do video. I’m talking about web reports that combine speed, accuracy and compelling visuals with overwhelming comprehensive coverage in a way that creates something that shows your readers that your newspaper’s website is the only place to go for information on this story.
  • No. 2 — At the very least, keep the web site updated. Even if in kind of a half-assed way.
  • No. 3 — Run a big story in print with a big photo. The next day. After the story is over. Treat it like your print predecessors would have back in 1978, pretending that no one knows about the story until you tell them about it in print. The next day.
  • No. 4 — Go apesh*t in print. The next day. But in the midst of the overkill print coverage, there are thoughtful analysis pieces that treat the story like a Day Two story. Which in 2008, it is.
  • No. 5 — Do a mixture of No. 1 and No. 4. Treat the web and print like they’re both important, with print coverage that acknowledges that we live in a world where both CNN and the Internet have been around for at least a few years. Or maybe even a few decades.

If you’re someone who worries about the changing business model of local newspapers, think about this: We may still be trying to figure out the business model, but if you’re not doing No. 5, there is no business model.

January 30, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

1 Comment »

  1. Definitely agree with this. There’s one thing that’s not mentioned, though, that should be included (I think it’s not b/c of the institutional bias at newspapers toward the printed word):

    Video. Newspapers should be shooting video these days. And if they don’t, someone else will, and traffic will follow.

    Comment by Rob Landry | February 12, 2008 | Reply

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