Category Archives: User generated content


ChicagoNOW editors make blog aggregation look like U.S. rocket science in the Sputnik era (Flickr photo by numberstumper/CC)

ChicagoNOW editors make blog aggregation look like early U.S. rocket science: Misfires (Flickr pic: numberstumper/CC)

Blog aggregation is not rocket science.

It does, however, require common sense.

And common sense would seem to scream: “STOP! DON’T DO IT” if someone suggested creating a stand-alone website made up of a bunch of largely anonymous writers with no organizing principle other than that the writers are all largely anonymous and all from Chicago.

But that’s what the Chicago Tribune’s highly touted “ChicagoNOW” is doing. No categories (well, there’s “recent posts”). Virtually no promotion on the Tribune site. No promotion in the print version of the Trib. No helpful editorial decisions indicating that a couple of blogs that day are really excellent. Continue reading

Nine minutes that could help save your newspaper: How local bloggers can add content, revenue, reach

When I spoke at the International Newsmedia Marketing Association “The Newspaper Outlook Experience” conference in Vienna, Austria last fall, I was interviewed by Artur Karda, multimedia reporter at Media Regionalne, for the Forum4Editors report on the conference.

This is a shot taken during my presentation at the INMA Europe "Outlook" conference in Vienna, Oct. 2008

This is a shot taken during my presentation at the INMA Europe "Outlook" conference in Vienna, Oct. 2008

Artur e-mailed the video to me recently. In it, he poses all the questions I hear from newspaper publishers and editors, and gets it all into a tight 9-minute piece.

I’m putting it up so everyone can hear, in one concise presentation, all the editorial, advertising and traffic arguments for incorporating high-quality local bloggers into newspaper print and online products.


Editors are not publishing reader blogs on their main website (if at all) and not at all in their print products because of concerns over credibility, professionalism, accuracy, etc. I answer those concerns below and in the previous post. (Photo by cayusa on flickr, CC)

In my last post (“Doubting Thomases“), I began answering the questions of editors who are nervous about publishing local bloggers in their websites and print products.

Prior to my speech Oct. 2 in Vienna, Austria at the International Newsmedia Marketing Association’s Europe 2008 conference, the organizers posed the questions they’d been getting from editors concerned about the use of user-generated content.

In my last post, I answered the first question, “Don’t third-party content providers threaten our hard-earned credibilty?”

Here are questions #2 and #3:

2. Editors are responsible for what they publish. How can they take responsibility for authors and content they know nothing about?
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Newspaper editors mimic these monkeys when it comes to incorporating local bloggers in their print and Web pages. (Photo by by Demi Sourire/CC)

Newspaper editors mimic these monkeys when it comes to incorporating local bloggers in their print and Web pages. (Photo by by Demi Sourire/CC)

Even as Technorati is releasing its 2008 State of the Blogosphere report documenting the fact that 346 million people world-wide read blogs, that 184 million people world-wide have started a blog, and that there are almost a million blog posts a day, there are still doubters.

If blogging weren’t such an information creation and disbursement tsunami, I could shrug off editors who shrug off bloggers.

But bloggers represent one very powerful solution to the circulation/readership problems faced by newspapers. And editors ignore them at their peril.
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The cover slide of the presentation about blogs and newspapers I gave to the national Brazilian newspaper association in August, 2008

The cover slide of the presentation about blogs and newspapers I gave to the national Brazilian newspaper association in August, 2008. Click on the picture to see the high-quality version. (Warning: It is a 21-minute presentation with six embedded video interviews.)

I’m back.

I spent most of August preparing for a big speech at the national Brazil newspaper association’s annual convention about how bloggers can build a newspaper’s circulation, web traffic, and revenue. It took a lot of time gathering data, doing video interviews, editing, creating, etc. (see show above).

My daughter and I at Newport, RI.

My daughter and I at Newport, RI.

Full disclosure: I also spent a wonderful ten days on a work-free vacation on Buzzard’s Bay with my wife and two daughters surfing real waves, not the Web (Melissa and I with our boards on the left)!

Speaking at the Brazil national newspaper conference.

I presented the slide show with six embedded videos in Sao Paulo in late August. You can view it here (medium quality, and it might not work on Firefox) and here (high-quality). More thoughts on the incredibly healthy Brazilian newspaper industry later…
If you don’t want to sit through all 21 minutes of the show, I am going to publish pieces of it here in my blog all week. Each interviewee, in particular, makes a compelling case for newspapers to include local bloggers in the print and online products in a significant way.
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Wake up, folks, Huffington is no Backfence


If you are a newspaper editor or publisher, and you haven’t worried about, YourStreet, Topix, or BackFence (deceased), it’s finally time to worry.

Like Craig Newmark before her, Huffington Post creator Arianna Huffington plans to steal our lunch. In her case, she’s announced she is going to launch at least a dozen local sites, starting with Chicago this summer.

You could ask a stadium full of people if they had ever heard of YourStreet, Topix, BackFence or, and you might hear a faint voice or two from the bleachers. You could FILL dozens of stadiums with people who have not only heard about the Huffington Post but have also been there. Like three to eight million people a month, depending on which measurement you believe.

Now Huffington says she’s coming after our most precious asset: our local readers.
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It’s the placement, stupid! Newspapers blow UGC

“It’s the economy, stupid” worked for Clinton.

“It’s the placement, stupid” would work for newspapers’ in their efforts to make user-generated content successful.

But most newspaper websites place (“bury”) user-created stuff in UGC ghettos nowhere near the subjects they’re blogging or vlogging about.

A typical newspaper website nav bar with theme sections and the blog area (or ghetto)

If newspapers treated their own content the way they treat users’ content, there would a newsroom revolt and website anarchy. There would be no “news,” “sports,” “entertainment,” or “opinion” tabs. Everything would go under two tabs: “our stuff” and “your stuff.”

Oh, yeah, reporters (and readers) would LOVE that.

Editors organize and promote their reporters’ and photographers’ best stuff on separate pages by category, displaying it well according to what they think is the best, most compelling stuff.

Not reader blogs. First they bury them, then they don’t promote them, then they gang’em all together with no rhyme or reason.
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Why are there no user video blogs in newspapers?

We’re blind.

Or stupid.

Great local content is staring newspapers in the face … and we can’t see it. Or we choose not to see it.

Hundreds of thousands of videos are uploaded daily on YouTube. Every MINUTE of every day, ten HOURS of new video is uploaded, YouTube says.

In one month alone (January 2008), nearly 79 million viewers, or a third of all online viewers in the U.S., watched more than three billion user-posted videos on YouTube, according to

That’s a ton of content.

And you’d be surprised how much of it is local.

Yes, there is lots of garbage and stuff we can’t touch due to copyright violations or good taste, but take a look at the results (chart on the left) of my one-day survey of local videos posted on YouTube today, this week, and this month:

Even if a measly 10 percent of the videos are terrific, that’s still dozens or hundreds of pieces of local content newspapers are not publishing today.
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