Monday, September 18, 2006

Mainstream Media Pushes the Boundaries for Big Payoff

"Build a better mousetrap," said Emerson, "and the world will beat a path to your door." Apparently that adage applies to newspapers, too!
According to a recent article in AdAge, appropriating the techniques of consumer-generated media -- such as tagging and reader commentary -- has helped The Washington Post grow its revenues an astonishing 36%.

Author Gavin O'Malley says that while The Washington Post was clearly not the only news organization embracing social media, it was an early leader in the field and it continues to test the boundaries of the burgeoning medium.

Overall, the Post may be setting a standard in reader engagement. Instead of just slapping on a section for reader comments, the editors are asking themselves how they can invite a dialogue EVERYWHERE in the users' experience of the website. For example, Washingtonpost.com features a news search engine that directs its readers to other news sites. The idea is that readers will use WashingtonPost.com as their default news home page, rather than just one stop in their news-gathering routine. Further, in addition to comments, readers are invited to submit questions to be asked of the people interviewed in the Discussions section. And the mission of the CameraWorks (i.e., photojournalism) section is "to build a site where professional photographers, amateurs and students as well as people who simply enjoy compelling stories can come together to share ideas."

Online revenue at the Washington Post Co.'s newspaper division totaled $25.3 million in the second quarter ... up 36 percent over last year, with most of the gains coming from WashingtonPost.com. That's more than the online revenue generated by its chief rival, The New York Times Co., which grew 25% in the second quarter compared to last year.

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