Advice for Traditional and Local News Media

Someone, a brave someone, from Boston’s local TV news scene asked a question to a panel with representatives from MySpace, Facebook, Eons, IBM, and a virtual worlds builder. She said she wanted to know the role of traditional media in this space, and what road she and her organization should get on for the future of media. Their answers were all over the map, but Jeff Taylor (former founder of Monster, current founder of Eons) had the start of a thoughtful answer, and his response blended with something someone else said earlier (either Jeff again, or Tom Arrix of Facebook): that if we observe the Superbowl ads for 2008, we’ll notice that the majority of them will point us to a web property. So, with this as backdrop, some advice.

Be Brief On Air, Go Deep Offline

The current champions of this method are NPR. They post all their subsequent materials, including longer versions of interviews, on their website for further review. For people you want to know about, watching or listening to just the snippets that make the news isn’t always enough. Having the option to go deeper is a great service that takes advantage of all the quality work a journalistic team has put into the experience.

This is a value-add for people interested in a particular story, but it’s also clever for marketing and understanding your customer base. We can track and observe and understand the behaviors of people, so that we may better serve them. That’s the first line value.

Integrate Local Social Media Types

Papers and TV are still missing an opportunity to “draft” independent media makers into their work. Move to an upstream, editorial and curation relationship with people who can go into their own communities, surface stories of interest to them, and then bring this body of work to editors and curators who can understand which of these stories are right for the air, which would do fine on the web, and which might merit further professional reporting, with a hat tip back to the original creator.

Embed Community Technology Into Your Sites

Pluck up the best of blogs and videoblogs in the area. Build community conversation sections, even if that invites critics to come out and shoot at your stories a bit. Build chat rooms for during-the-news discussion experiences. There are tons of ways to empower the voice of your audience to have reciprocal value. These are just a few. You probably have a few more.

Make Your Media Portable

Take some of the deep stories and make podcasts out of them. Give us embed codes for your media. Make a spot for metadata like user tagging. Give us ways to build your media into our sites and spread your word to more sources.

Switch Sensation for Causes and Empowerment

We put a premium on stories of what’s going wrong. Of course, it’s important to know about some of the bad news we’re getting out there, but why aren’t stories about where we can help coming to the fore in LOCAL news? Why aren’t we learning about people doing great work more often? Right now, they have that slot at the very end of the newscast, where the two or three people on desk make that weird half smile.

Push the empowerment stories up, and bring that into your deep web coverage as well.

Random and YOUR Ideas

One more thing: do we NEED everyone at a desk with monitors behind them, or sitting in fake living rooms? Aren’t there other settings? We haven’t mixed it up much for over 50 years. I guess this isn’t social media advice, but hey.

And what else? What do you think? How can we fix the news?

The Social Media 100 is a project by Chris Brogan dedicated to writing 100 useful blog posts in a row about the tools, techniques, and strategies behind using social media for your business, your organization, or your own personal interests. Swing by [] for more posts in the series, and if you have topic ideas, feel free to share them, as this is a group project, and your opinion matters.

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