The Independent Weekly has a new website. â€œSo what?â€, you may ask, people launch new websites all the time. The difference here is they’re adopting important features other newspapers are not. Features essential to new media websites.
One important feature on the new Indy website is content synchronization. When the Indy paper comes out the Indy website has the same content. Many print publications â€“ like Wired magazine â€“ have websites but delay the contentâ€™s online release until days or weeks after the print version has come out. This is wrong. Making already impatient online readers wait is a bad PR move. So bad it may completly prevent the stories from ever being read. Itâ€™s true that there are timing issues that can cause this gap but I bet the issue for some print publications is more about making sure the print media continues to have value. After all, â€œIf they can get it online for free why should they bother paying for a subscription?â€ Wrong.
Another example is persistent links. When the Indy creates content and it goes on their website it doesnâ€™t disappear. URLs to the content persist into the future. Many newspapers hide their content behind a pay wall the day it comes out and sometimes days later. This is a real problem. When you link to something on another website you want the link to work well into the future. Itâ€™s real hard for loyal bloggers to drive traffic to your site if the URLs donâ€™t work (aka free publicity).
If newspapers really are the first draft of history they should allow their work to last so we can read it and compare it to other drafts. Preventing unethical rewriting of history demands it.
One of the competitive advantages the Indy Week has is that its paper is free. Their business model depends on advertising. They already know how to make this work. Thatâ€™s how a lot of the web works. In other words revienue modles for media are very differnet than they used to me. Newspapers seem to be having a hard time dealing with the fact that the subscription model is dying. In the 21st century if you pay to subscribe to something it better be really special and not become fish wrap the next day.