Recently my manager sent me an Newsweek article about the hype and hope surrounding the release of the alleged Apple tablet.
In it Daniel Lyons speaks about the way it will reinvent computing and “make obsolete” the old ways of storytelling. My manager included this note, “Dorrine, this leads directly into what you were talking about with copywriting for the web. I think this column outlines it perfectly.” She is referring to conversations we had where I expressed concern that all we were doing was re-posting newspaper stories onto the web without bullet points, summaries or re-writes.

My first thought:
It’s not just the iTablet, or whether it will revolutionize how we present information. Like the Lyons states, the introduction of smartphones revolutionized how people consume information. It also changed their appetites. This evolution isn’t slowing down.

What do web metrics for our newspaper say about how long people spend on our site?
They almost never stay through an entire video. Do we really believe they’re staying to read the stories? Why is it that letters, the “shortest stories” besides briefs, garner the most comments and discussion? Are we really providing a service to our readers/visitors? Or do we just think we are because we’re making content available? Personally, I don’t believe that’s respectful of our readers or viewers. We would never publish a newspaper full of short web briefs with lots of photos. Why do we treat our web and mobile viewers as if they are all newspaper readers?

Duplicating content from a newspaper, to a phone, tablet, kindle whatever, isn’t what people want. Thought leaders like Jay Rosen and Dave Winer have been saying this for years. It shows we (as providers) don’t understand the platform,  or needs of the users. I think it also shows a lack vision for our future.
The stories our reporters produce are often far superior to local media outlets. But without an appropriate online presentation we do them a disservice.

I don’t know what any of you really believe about newspapers — whether they will stay or eventually disappear. But if our website is going to be our bread and butter (or even the knife) then we need to start moving and move quickly because no one is going to wait for us.

Now is the time for us to be taking charge of what we are going to offer people hungry for information. News services are the most popular on Twitter. People want news. They want information. But they want it in ways that fit their lifestyles.

This tablet could be released in January. That is one month from today. I went from rarely checking email, texts etc. to being constantly connected. It didn’t just change the way I consume news, it changed the way I live and that is not an exaggeration. What are we prepared to offer? What do we want to be prepared to offer?

Posted via email from When the mood strikes