BATTLE | What we need, is infastructure

I’ve challenged myself to battle the management at my school’s newspaper The Daily Orange with a new ‘new media’ topic every week. BATTLE look at the struggle of a college paper trying to evolve to succeed on the Internet. As a follow up to my BATTLE post, What we need, is a plan, I'd like to share some the continued converstation between myself, and the ever skeptical (and it's a good thing to be skeptical), staff of The Daily Orange.

Eight reasons why College Publisher is a problem

  1. I'm worried that other universities that produce a product inferior to our own, are so far ahead of us in the online space. This is ass backwards, and cannot be allowed to continue if we expect to keep bragging about the great tradition of the DO. It very well might become the 'once great tradition'
  2. College Publisher has ceased development of their next generation of software – CP5. No future growth does not bode well for their continued success. I'd be wary of thinking of College Publisher as a platform that will always be there.
  3. Online is both the future and the present reality. Every newsorg needs to exist online in a meaningful way. Many don't get it right, but we blatantly get it wrong.
  4. We loose customers because of our poor website design. This directly translates to ad dollars lost. A new site will be much more customer (user) friendly and not only promote on campus readership, but convert new community readers, especially as related to sports.
  5. We can make the newsroom more efficient by going to a web-first publishing model.
  6. We exist in a 24 hour news cycle, and CP4 doesn't let us operate in that fashion.
  7. I'm very much worried that an online only startup will come out of Newhouse and challenge the DO as the prime new provider for Syracuse campus news. The DO has long enjoyed a monopoly… the last thing it needs is competition.
  8. Experimentation is key. The worst thing we can do is continue the status quo. We KNOW that won't work. We need to figure out what does now, while we still have money to spend. If you think budgets are tight now, think about how tight they will be at the end of 2009, 2010?

The advantage of moving off College Publisher

The College Publisher site, The Daily Illini, is frequently referred to as the best designed CP site.
The College Publisher site, The Daily Illini, is frequently referred to as the best designed CP site.
  • Our website reaches primarily to alumni and parents (even if we do see a healthy on-campus readership). We ought to be selling ads that market toward them. Moving off College Publisher should open us up to this by enabling us to take advantage of national ad networks. Online ought to be viewed as a great new opportunity to find new advertisers, not a problem of not being able to attract old, local, customers to a new product. I suspect finding sponsorship for Thirsty Thursday is an example of this.
  • Want to increase campus readership? Give us students a website we can actually use. The current one is so far behind the times and so user-unfriendly that people avoid it. THIS IS NOT CUSTOMER SERVICE.
  • We all agree the current site sucks. And we can agree that CP is at fault. And we can agree that it is possible to make the site look better, but ultimately we're still going to be restricted. If the dailyillini is the best we can hope for… well… we ought to aim higher.

This is an infrastructure problem

The idea was raised that high staff turn-over of the web-editor position has caused the DO problems of maintaining a consistent message across the years of web development. This is valid, yet I wonder if the problem is more systemic. Many college newspapers have full online staffs. If the D.O has only planned to have just one, part-time guy, what possible hope for success can we have?

This indicates a fundamental infrastructure problem. Part of that infrastructure is having a plan, as I outlined earlier in my earlier post. The other part, is having a staff that can carry it out. In the same way you need editors for editorial, you need web people to do the web.

We've been around for 100+ years in the era of print. I am not exaggerating when I say that the Internet is the single biggest change to the newspaper industry since the printing press… 500 years ago. We are horribly behind the times and cannot afford to delay.

BATTLE | What we need, is infastructure

Joey Baker

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I write code most days. Prevously: photojournalist, EMT. Somewhat obsessed with jouralism.