Tag Archives: UGC


"Hey, honey, I've got a great idea for Friday night! Whaddya say we go home and read some generic user-generated blogs tonight?! Sound like fun?" (Flickr photo by larryfishkorn/CC/With permissions)

"Hey, honey, I've got a great idea for Friday night! Whaddya say we go home and read some generic user-generated blogs tonight?! Sound like fun?" (Flickr photo by larryfishkorn/CC/With permissions)


When was the last time your colleagues said they were heading out for a wild weekend of reading generic user-generated blogs?

Never, right?

No one (in their right mind) reads blogs just because some other reader wrote them.

And yet, that’s what editors must think because they keep putting ALL reader-written blogs together on one big web page (ghetto), whether those bloggers are writing about knitting or martial arts or kitty cats or Jesus. How fascinating. How compelling. Continue reading



Editors are worried about publishing local bloggers in their web pages. I answer their concerns below. (Photo by Tom Carmony, on Flickr/CC)

I just returned from Vienna, Austria where I spoke to the International Newsmedia Marketing Association’s Europe Outlook 2009 Conference about using local bloggers to enhance their reach, relevance and revenue.

Olivier Bonsart, Director Délégué of Ouest-France leads a song at INMA 2008 Europe conference in Vienna.

Olivier Bonsart, Director Délégué of Ouest-France, leads a song at INMA 2008 Europe conference in Vienna. (Photo by Knallgrau; courtesy INMA)

(By the way: Those folks know how to drink! Unlike too many of my American editorial friends who drink to get morose — not a long trip — and stupid, these people drank to have fun. We started with a traditional “Heuriger Dinner” at 8 and were still going strong at 2, taking turns singing drinking songs from each country. With more than 20 countries in attendance, we provided quite a musical buffet at the restaurant, on the bus back to the hotel and in the hotel bar! I’m looking for good American, especially Boston, drinking songs if anyone has suggestions!)

The audience — publishers, editors and marketing directors from more than 20 countries — were very interested in adding local bloggers to their content mix. I have already heard from newspapers in Hungary, England, India, France, Sweden, Belgium, and Poland about how to go about integrating user-generated content in their publications’ websites and print products.

The questions and concerns were the same that I hear when I speak to American editors: What about our hard-earned credibility? How can I trust writers I don’t know? Isn’t there a difference between professional journalists and bloggers? Is there a limit to reader involvement? Couldn’t this just be a publisher trick to cut staff? And, how long will bloggers be willing to do this for free? Continue reading


How many newspaper readers feel a personal connection with their metro daily newspaper? How many think of the paper as “our newspaper” or “my newspaper”?

Nobody I know.

Readers see their metro paper as “their” newspaper, a publication reflecting the interests, opinions, and work of other people not remotely connected to the them and their lives.

Not BostonNOW.

When BostonNOW was up and running (I was the editor-in-chief), we had 3,900 local bloggers posting to their blogs on our site (which, sadly, closed after a year in business when the investors ran out of money in April).

Our bloggers, and their friends, families and business connections, considered BostonNOW “our paper.” And it truly was. The website AND the paper carried their work, and the work of people like them.
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THE BLIND PEWS: The Top 10 Most Purblind Papers

Blind Pew from It’s time to be name names.

Too many big, ordinarily smart newspapers still refuse to involve high-quality local bloggers and vloggers on their websites and in the pages of their paper in any significant way beyond a lame, well-hidden, token local blogger index page (if that).

Now the thieves are at the door, about to make off with the family jewels (audience and advertising) and newspapers are leaving the doors unlocked and the valuables in plain sight.

Arianna Huffington’s announcement last week that she will be launching 12 local Huffington Posts with aggregated news and local bloggers is only the tip of the iceberg, the flashiest fox in the henhouse. The chairman of the board of one of the top U.S. dailies told me last week that he is seeing a lot of other crafty characters coming into his market looking to steal market share in exactly the same way, and he’s finally ready to act.

It’s time for editors to drop their tired excuses: “Bloggers aren’t journalists,” and “they’re just loonies in jammies,” and “my paper’s reputation will be sullied” (hey, guys, YOU choose which ones to publish!).

Pull in the best local bloggers and vloggers now or lose them and the thousands of folks who follow them, going where they can find the best local content and communities of shared interests.

So, in the spirit of your mom’s classic “I’m only going to tell you once more” warning, here’s a whack upside the head for what I’m calling:


Wake up, folks, Huffington is no Backfence


If you are a newspaper editor or publisher, and you haven’t worried about Outside.in, 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 Outside.in, 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 Fortune.cnn.com.

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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