Friday, November 02, 2007

From Ink to 'Squink'

The Grand Haven Tribune unveiled an interesting Web site yesterday--squink.com

You can read the Tribune article about the site for more detail, but essentially its a newspaper providing a photo sharing, social media site for local residents.

This is an example of a newsprint enterprise trying to be relevant in the digital, Web 2.0 world. It has some merit--the photo staff of the Tribune can share their photos, residents can upload their own, and the increasingly visually stimulated public can browse. It's a way for the Tribune to interact with readers and the community, perhaps community members who are not readers. It definitely has a local emphasis, which is what newspapers like the Tribune need to emphasize if they want to survive in an era of declining readership. In other words, it's a public relations effort to build new relationships and enhance existing ones.

A few have already posted photos. We'll have yet to see if the site is "sticky." There are ads on the site, from Google AdSense. The publisher says they hope to attract more local advertisers for banner web ads. So there's potential revenue stream and sustainability for the site.

There is a danger that some ill-advised business or organization will try to "colonize" the site by posting promotional photos. When this is tried on Facebook and other social sites, it doesn't work. However, it could be a good PR opprtunity if the photos follow the existing rules of Web 2.0, in other words if they are of a genuine interest that is not blatantly self serving.

4 comments:

jcn3 said...

Tim -

I enjoy your blog. We have a somewhat similar site in Chicago - triblocal.com - run by the Chicago Tribune. It's an interesting experiment in "citizen journalism." It is used by a lot of community groups for promotion of hyperlocal news and events. The Tribune recently decided to start printing selections from the web site and inserting them into the print edition every week. We'll see where it goes...

Craig Colgan said...

The Washington Post is big into this in my neighborhood in Northern Virginia. That site is called LoudounExtra.com, and is aimed at local news, a couple blogs, lots and lots of high school football photos and even video. When it was unveiled a couple months back, it got some attention in USA Today I believe, the journalism mags, etc. The Post, I think wants to test drive the concept, hope it works, then move it to Maryland, maybe even throughout neighborhoods in D.C.

Washingtonpost.com is the best old media Web site anywhere, I believe. And this local news site concept may actually work. But I think all of these newspaper types must show up at the same conferences, think the same thoughts, and make sure arrive similarly late to the same Internet trends that their readers caught on to several years before. We don't want more football video and reader photos. We want more and better news coverage of our communities. The medium is NOT the message.

webmaster said...

Well said Craig, I am totally with you on that point. Get better local news AND give users some web 2.0 fun as well.

ink&ink said...

Tim--

I tried the link to the Tribune article but it does not seem to function. Nevertheless, you make some great points here. I think it is wonderful that the newsprint enterprise is trying to get involved in the web 2.0 world. I actually think it would be great if many of the other newsprint enterprises would get more involved. It seems everything is, not so much transferring, but looking towards getting involved.

I think its not only a great way to communicate but a great way to promote and establish a business.

Also, as you pointed out it could also be an opportunity for revenue stream .

"There is a danger that some ill-advised business or organization will try to "colonize" the site by posting promotional photos." A terms and conditions could be established enabling the web masters to ban users who do post promotional photos. Also, it would be smart to mention that there is an option to advertise with payment so to not completely drive people away.

Wonderful post Tim!
Geoff
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