Monday, February 16, 2009

"Newspapers should use their brand online"

In the past, John Duncan, the former managing editor of London's Observer, has advised newspapers to not "strip resources from their print products to nurture websites."

Now Duncan is advising newspapers to keep their brand in order to hold their market niche. When all is said and done, citizen journalism cannot by definition benefit from a brand.

From the latest Deal:
"Journalists hate the word, but newspapers have great brand," Duncan says. "It's not fake. It's not a lie. Newspapers have an incredible relationship and substantial amount of trust with readers."

The problem has been applying that brand online. No less an authority than Google Inc. CEO Eric Schmidt has called the Internet a "cesspool" of misinformation, and has said the imprimatur of trusted "brands" is needed to help people sort the good data from the bad.

If brands do in fact have such value, newspapers may use their credibility with readers to get into new types of content, such as diet clubs or other areas that lie outside of news but appeal to popular interest. When the Detroit Free Press and Detroit News announced they would not deliver the paper seven days a week, the papers touted new digital efforts they hoped to expand, in addition to online news. These included Web sites, a social networking site for mothers, and, a nationwide venture that combines news coverage by journalists, high school coaches and players.

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