Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Note to Print Media: You're Doing it Wrong

Again. And still.

My local paper has several Twitter accounts. Here's the latest tweet from @OrlandoOpinion

What a worthless thing to waste my time on. What does it matter how we think the Senate should vote on Obama's nominee to the Supreme Court? Why is this news? What will you do with this information once you've gathered it? Will you send a note to Florida's two senators saying, "The respondents to our idiotic and inane poll think you should/should not confirm Obama's nominee."

If I were a Senator, I'd say to myself, "Hmmmm. Screw those idiots. What kind of loser takes the time to register his/her opinion on such a question? Maybe only crazy activists on either side of the political spectrum?"

Besides the complete and utter stupidity of such a tweet, what kills their request for me to go to their pole further is the command "Vote!"

No! I won't! You're being stupid.

But I suppose a few people clicked that way, then saw a banner ad for Embassy Suites and said, "You know what? That happy couple frolicking in the surf sure makes me want to take my wife to Fort Lauderdale for the weekend. I think I'll book a room. Aw, what the hell, let's upgrade that room to a deluxe suite! Oh, look! a car ad! We need a new car right about now!"

A couple of summers ago, I did a short six-week or so freelance stint at the local paper. It was a sad experience as I watched them try to desperately come up with ways to make more money and stem the exodus of subscribers. They wanted to create a weekly "Legal" section, much like their weekly "Auto" section, that they would fill with ads from personal injury attorneys. Problem was there are just not that many "legal" story angles to fill a section every week. They started up a weird offshoot site called Engine Head, which they tried not to associate themselves with, lest the street racers and local motorcycle enthusiasts realize it was a cleverly disguised ruse. I wrote a radio script for them in which the announcer said something to the effect of "subscribe to our feed" or "bookmark it and check us for weather, traffic, blah, blah, blah." They did not like that. They changed it to read, "Make us your homepage!" Delusional thinking, I told them. Does anyone have the local paper's website as their homepage?

Since I was there, they've undergone massive layoffs and attempts at colorful rebranding to the point that the paper now looks like a website, complete with banner ads along the bottom of the front page. I'm sure they're selling a few issues of commemorative Orlando Magic editions in the wake of our local team's surprising performance in the NBA playoffs, but the end is in sight for the print version and has been for a long time.

Naturally, all papers are trying to do the online thing, and the more clicks they can show, the more they can charge their banner ad placers. But when your tweets are that dumb, I'm not clicking on the links within, so I'm not seeing the banners, and I might just unfollow you now. The local TV stations' websites offer everything you do. They also want to be my source for news, weather, traffic, jobs, classifieds, and my first choice for stupid celebrity mugshots or pictures of kids on Spring Break getting drunk. Or dumbass polls that mean nothing.

What do you have that distinguishes you from anyone else? How are you different? Why should I visit your site? You're not offering me anything compelling.

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  • I think the media copies from each other and therefore is so bland and uninspiring. And, maybe some truths would be more compelling to actually read and absorb. Also, ads are not relevant to what they offer these days. I don't love my car. I want a car that is hot and runs like a car with some options. Uh, what?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at May 30, 2009 at 4:11 PM  

  • Uh, what?

    By Blogger Jetpacks, at May 30, 2009 at 7:15 PM  

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