By Adrian Nieoczym
I must admit I had a lump in my throat yesterday at about 1 p.m. when I realized that Kelowna.com was officially done, at least as a source of daily local news. It’s just amazing to think that something my colleagues and I poured our hearts and souls into simply no longer exists.
But it also has me thinking again about what I would do differently if I get involved in another online news venture.
As some who commented on this blog pointed out, a lot of work has to be done figuring out how to do advertising on the web. I fully agree with this, though my expertise in this area is limited. But I do think a new model for online advertising has to be developed in lockstep with a new model for online news production and distribution.
In my last post (Lessons from a .com, geodomain, hyperlocal meltdown) I said we need to make the news more interactive. The traditional way to come up with news stories is for a newspaper or a website’s reporters and editors to sit around and talk about what’s going on and what they think the important stories are. The editor then assigns the stories, the reporters go off and do them and then they are published and/or posted online. Readers get their say after the fact, through comments and letters to the editor.
Imagine if the job of a reporter was instead to be part of an online community of people (preferably paying subscribers) who are interested in what’s happening in their community. The reporter puts his or her skills, knowledge and media accreditation at the use of that online community.
For example, through social media tools embedded in their news outfit’s website, a city hall reporter could participate in discussions about city council. Say council was dealing with a contentious development application, readers could discuss, debate and rant about it. The reporter would participate and write stories providing information about the development that readers wanted or needed. There could even be ways for readers to direct the reporter about who should be interviewed and what questions should be asked or what kinds of research the reporter should be doing or what kinds of angles they should be poking into.
Obviously this is not a fully thought out idea, just some thoughts about where online journalism needs to. I’m curious what others think.