More from New Bedford

Please fulfill Fred's plug mission and pay a visit to New Bedford's special report on the Portuguese-American experience. It's well worth the time. Fascinating stuff.
I'll echo Fred's note about particularly noting the linguica video: http://www.southcoasttoday.com/anossavida/video/sausage.wmv
Unscripted, conversational narrative? Check.
Excellent and numerous photos? Check.
Ambient sound to help give the viewer a sense of place? Check.
The piece takes people behind the scenes of someplace they would not ordinarily go. Bravo!  Now that's something you can proudly promote as an online enhancement in the print presentation of the series. Encore! Encore!
(Fred, set aside some print copies for me for when I visit tomorrow, will you?)

From: Fred Harwood [mailto:fharwood@s-t.com]
Sent: Wednesday, September 27, 2006 9:26 AM
To: 'spolay'
Subject: RE: [Ottaway Online Editors] SouthCoast's Ugliest Bathrooms Contest - Powered by PhotoPost

Hi Sean,


Just wanted to call your attention to all the multimedia stuff we’ve done to go with our four-Sunday special project – A Nossa Vida: The Portuguese Experience in America.


You can find them here:



What is cool about these, I think, is that the reporters themselves produced them (with varying degrees of success/difficulty) with little or no experience doing this before.


Although they each have something to offer, of particular note are:

n       the overview

n       linguica

n       romeiros

n       fado


We’ll be adding the stories from Week 2-4 over the next three weeks.


All of the content can also be found in a book we produced (which, if you have any Portuguese friends you need a holiday present for, can be purchased on the Web site [plug, plug!])




Fred Harwood

Managing Editor for Online Content/New Media

The Standard-Times/SouthCoastToday.com

25 Elm St.

New Bedford, MA 02740

Phone: 508-979-4441

Fax: 508-997-7491

E-mail: fharwood@s-t.com



Halloween UGC ideas

As we head into the home stretch of this year, and strive to build audience, increase reader engagement with our products and build hyperlocal, online communities of geography and interest -- not to mention achieving our annual goals -- here's some ideas for the Halloween season, which is ripe with UGC opportunities. Remember, Oct. 1 is this weekend, so you need to be baking your ideas now and get them up and running by the end of next week to have any real opportunity at success.

First, some ideas from my previous life:

Accessorize Your Pet slideshow
Jack-O-Lanterns slideshow

Also, before I arrived, projo did a Halloween scream contest. The specifics escape me, and the pages went the way of the Internet stratosphere in 2001 when we switched from a local server to corporate hosting, but you could imagine a contest in which you had people call into a voice mail box -- or send you an mp3 -- with their best, blood-curdling scream. A week before Halloween, have the staff narrow down the entries to a half dozen of the best, and then open it up to the readers to vote for the winner. Collaborate with your ad departments so they can find a sponsor (and perhaps a prize donor).

An idea that never got any traction: Halloweens of Yore slideshow (and have a good laugh at my expense thanks to my baby photo, which I added as a way of seeding the slideshow).

Projo didn't corner the market on good ideas, of course.

Keene (NH) Sentinel: Pumpkin Festival Photo Gallery
Cincinnati Enquirer: Costumes photo gallery

I'm surprised I could not find a similar gallery out there for haunted houses. Seize that opportunity! There's people out there that are more nuts about decorating their house and lawn for Halloween than many are about doing the same at Christmas.

Pocono Record - Pocono Autumn

Speaking of ideas I love:

Pocono Record - Pocono Autumn

SouthCoast's Ugliest Bathrooms Contest - Powered by PhotoPost

Love this idea!

Photos.SouthCoastToday.com - SouthCoast's Ugliest Bathrooms Contest - Powered by PhotoPost

Hyperlocal in Chicago

Gleaned from I Want Media today:

Chicago's Sun-Times Unveils Hyper-Local Online Service
The Sun-Times News Group's new Web site features a drop-down menu for users to access news in their local community. Tabs along the left-hand side of the home page send visitors to Roger Ebert's movie reviews, blogs, video, classified sections, the Yellow Pages and more.

For what it's worth, I hate the design. And in the admittedly limited poking around that I have done, they're not fulfilling the essential mission of being hyperlocal: Connecting with a community beyond (or below) the big news, and facilitating connections within that community.
Granted, how to successfully fulfill that mission remains a work in progress for us.
But just aggregating local stories to a single page does not make it hyperlocal in my book. The only mechanism the Sun-Times is using to signify that you are on a hyperlocal page is changing the logo in the upper left to match the publication that covers that area. There is no sense of place otherwise: No resource links; no map; no local conversations taking place in forums, polls or otherwise. No local blogs either -- at least none that I could find... the only blogs I encountered I reached from the Chicago page, and they all, more or less, are what you'd expect of major-metro blog fare.
And why put AP video on a local page? Looks as if they were simply trying to fill out their online-only module. Fair enough, but it does more harm than good, because now all of the hyperlocal pages look less distinctive content-wise.


How Clean is your Fire Truck?

Seth Godin, change agent, marketer, not sure what he does -- wrote this insightful post about why fire trucks are always sparkling clean.

Made me think about the change we are experiencing in our industry to become more competitive in the increasingly fragmented and digital marketplace.

Part of it is the ability to be interative. The Internet isn't about perfection, it's interative. If we wait for everything we produce to be perfect and to have a process in place to "control" it, we lose first-mover status which is important if you want to be innovative and all successful companies are innovative and iterative.

Here's a quote from an article about what changes Proctor & Gamble are going through to meet the new marketplace demands which references my favorite reference to perfection as a hindrance by Meg Whitman:

Stop testing so much. It's not the P&G way to put out a product without test-marketing it. But consumer testing takes time--a luxury that P&G execs increasingly don't have. Says Susan Arnold, P&G's beauty queen: "We don't have time to cross all the T's and dot all the I's. This business is trend-based and fashion-based. You have to be intuitive, instinctual, and gut-driven." ... P&G has reduced product launch time from lab to roll-out from three years to 18 months companywide. Meg Whitman, eBay's CEO and a P&G board member, believes that P&G should move even faster. "Perfection is the enemy of good enough," she says. "I think that's right," says Lafley.

So, the next time you are heading into yet another meeting about whether or not to create a new online section or try out a new column in the newspaper, ask yourself if you're just cleaning the old fire truck again.

-- Sorry for the long post.

Disclaimer -- of course I am not advocating that we ignore our journalistic or public responsibility to report objectively and be fair. I am advocating that we launch products in versions, like everyone else, so that we can be a part of the game and given the chance to improve our products with customer feedback, like everyone else. KS


Cape Cod YouTube

A clever blog concept: Cape Cod YouTube

Only one post so far. Will be interesting to see if there is enough material there in the long run.


Living without print?

Some of you may already have seen Amy L. Webb's writeup of her 30-day experiment without "traditional" media? I'm a month late to it, encountering it tonight via an NPR story (and I encountered that by reading all the way through NPR's account of the L.A. Times/Tribune cost cutting feud).

I'm fascinated by Webb's article for a number of reasons:

One, a Sunday without a newspaper is an empty Sunday indeed! When my family has Sunday plans, and I skip my usual weekly couple of hours with a couple of newspapers, I actually get a little cranky inside.

I'm not feeling relaxed or looking forward to another hour of reading in bed. The digital version of my typical Sunday has left me wanting.
And what are our kids doing while my wife and I read the paper? Playing in Webkinz, a virtual world for youngsters. Granted, our boys are 8 and under, and at the very least the 8 year old asks me to save him the funnies, which he will read later in the day. Do I think his interest will graduate to the sports pages and beyond? Hard to say. If so, it will more than likely be because at the very least my wife and I are bringing the newspaper into the house regularly... so far....

Two, as an online junkie myself, I find myself at times with the same feeling of restlessness and listlessness that Webb describes.
I'm averaging about 14 to 16 hours every day online, and my head is hurting by the time I fall asleep. I'm antsy, much more impatient than I used to be. Worse, one of my closest friends this morning said that my attention span is "worse than a 2-year-old child's."
Over the last couple of yers, I've tried to force myself to read a book in bed before going to sleep. Granted, reading five pages at a time before falling asleep is not my preferred method to curl up with a good book. Worse, I've broken that habit lately (again). But after reading Webb's article, I realized the attempt was my subconscious way of relaxing my brains so I could fall asleep more easily. And it was working, too -- reason enough to kickstart the practice again.

Three, it's encouraging that the state of local news feeds from our broadcast competition in the big cities is not where it should be. So whatever broadcast competition we face at our tier of markets is further behind than that. We need to relentlessly exploit that advantage.
(To be fair, if you checked today, you'd probably find dozens of RSS feeds available on local news from local Web sites - but still, it's clear that our local venues have some catching up to do where Web technology is concerned.)
The stop dead moment?
I've concluded that the medium doesn't matter after all. After a month without any print or broadcast media, I can say with confidence that I could easily live without ever picking up a physical newspaper again.
In my conversations with people around the company and industry, I get asked from time to time, "How can we effectively promote the print product from the Web site? What can we promote?"

I usually respond by suggesting they promote the stories coming up in the Saturday and Sunday papers, because those days are when print still has an advantage over online.

I don't expect that advantage to last, and I'll be rendered speechless by that Web-to-print marketing question sooner than I'd like to predict.



Jay Small's blog post today regarding brands and Wikipedia -- and he was riffing on a post by Steve Rubel -- got me wondering: How many of our brands are represented on Wikipedia? Is the information accurate?
Check out the Pocono Record entry. Scroll down a bit... Holy loads of detail, Batman! The Cape Cod Times, on the other hand, has a sparse entry -- and 2004 circulation numbers. The entry about New Bedford is sparser still.
Piggy back that to a conversation that I had with Patrick Mullen last week: When we create geographic or topic-specific landing pages, should we add ourselves as related links in Wikipedia?
Rhetorical question, of course. That should be part of the landing page creation workflow, and we should make that #19 on the list of 9 Ways for Newspapers to Improve Their Websites... I say 19 because Todd Zeigler added to his list based on reader feedback.
I just added three external links to the Wikipedia entry for Nantucket. Took me eight minutes, and only took that long because it was my first time poking around under the hood. Won't take most more than a minute or two to add a landing page link to the Wikipedia entry or entries that make the most contextual sense. Meanwhile, I'll let you know how the Wikipedia referrals to the Nantucket sites go.


Promote new content and features on the home page

Called up my Google home page today, and a module in the upper right, promoting "New Stuff" that I could add to my personalized page, immediately caught my eye:

As with all things Google, it is simple, concise, elegant and effective. I'm not necessarily an astronomy buff, but I am intrigued enough to want to try out the second item, a moon phases module.

As we've been working on the Web site redesigns around the company, we've been constantly drumming the need to promote content inside the site -- and rotate those promos throughout the day. It is a proven, effective tactic when it comes to drumming up more clicks from both your core (frequent) and sampler (once in a while) audiences.

The Google layout in this case shows that not everything needs to be on the home page. There are likely a dozen or more new modules being created daily (heck, we should be creating some), but not all of them can -- or should -- be surfaced to the home page. In fact, sparseness (or "creative use of white space," in newsroom layout parlance), can provide more amplification for the promo.


Steve Irwin guestbook

Pat on the virtual back for Pocono yesterday for putting a small barker on their home page pointing to the Legacy.com guestbook for fans of Steve Irwin to leave condolences:
Anyone else doing so? If not, I recommend it. Legacy usually does this for notable deaths, even minor celebrities. And if you have a local celebrity whose death you are reporting on, you can e-mail Legacy's customer service folks, and they'll set one up for you (and marry the obit with it later).

Also, when you do so, tease it from the paper, too!