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Friday, August 19, 2005

Multimedia empowers local newspapers

An article in the San Francisco Chronicle this week tells of the popularity of the social networking site MySpace, recently acquired by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., with music groups trying to gain exposure. The first thing that struck me was, "Why doesn't the Chronicle and newspapers everywhere open themselves up to this digital opportunity?" Essentially what these bands have been doing is loading recordings of their music, pictures and tour dates on to the 22.5 million-user-strong MySpace, complimenting or bypassing altogether the normal process of whirlwind tour advertising and trying to scratch out a living selling homemade cassettes from the back of their rusty rundown equipment van. The article says that about 350,000 bands have already posted their material on MySpace, 3,000 of those coming from the San Francisco Bay Area alone. That's a potential 3,000 opportunities that the Chronicle has missed. Here's why:

MySpace is a universal website. With so many users and 7.5 billion page views a month, it could be difficult for these bands to receive maximum exposure in their own region. Newspapers, on the other hand, own the power of local. By creating pages for these bands to post their songs and musings they will also create a portal for local buzz that ultimately will attract new readers. And who listens to new local music and attends local concerts? Yep, that prized 18-34 demographic that statistics show newspapers are rapidly losing. But that's not all. A newspaper could feasibly supply its readers with the entire package: a concert and album review from a staff journalist complete with podcasted band interview, a downloadable song example, video clips from the bands latest music video or concert, tour dates and a fan-review blog that incites discussion and allows the band to respond. Fueled by the proper targeted advertising, such a complete overview is certain to attract readers and please advertisers. This isn't the only type of local review that could profit from internet multimedia:

- movie reviews could include audio or video interviews with local viewers of all age groups and links to the trailer
- book reviews could include podcasted excerpts to give the reader a feel for the book's tone and flow
- local restaurant's could post their menus and reviews could include video interviews with the chef throughout which he might whip up a little dish in front of the camera, making audience mouths water

These are just a few quick ideas. Newsroom staff brainstorming sessions would surely result in more interesting innovations.

There are problems of course. 3,000 bands might be a bit out of reach for a staff of three or four reviewers and the transition to such a newsroom model could get costly. But the fact is, if local newspapers don't adapt now, another company will soon fill the gap (just look at Google and Yahoo's local efforts, not to mention that MySpace just added video). Newspapers still have a grasp on their local niche. By allowing bands, restaurants or other local business to post on its website, a local paper will be able to browse through reader comments on local subjects, get a better idea of what the hot local chatter is and be able to put together a complete story for the benefit of the community. Open up, listen to the audience, do a multimedia report. This could be the future of local news.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle and check out our last posting on multimedia

Posted by john burke on August 19, 2005 at 01:07 PM | Permalink

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