Thursday, October 16, 2008

Creating successful newspapers: You're doing it wrong

Ruth Holladay's blog says Gannett is dismantling The former INTake paper and website will get its web content from national restaurant and calendar provider Metromix. Because no one knows Indianapolis better than a web company in Chicago.

Pick your city? Pick your city?!

This has been Gannett's approach for the past several years. The bean counters and MBAs are deciding that what's best is to get rid of everything that makes the Star the Indianapolis Star, and get local content from national providers, people who know nothing about our corner of the world.

"Trust Gannett: if there is a formula for ruining newspapers and careers, they have it mastered," Holladay said in her blog.

I've got an idea. I'll pick my newspaper. It's online. I'll pick my local events calendar. It's Nuvo. I'll pick my local commentary. They're bloggers -- Holladay, Jennifer Wagner, and Abdul Hakim-Shabazz. What I won't pick is the print version of the Indianapolis Star. Why waste my time and money looking for local information and commentary, when there are plenty of people who are willing to give me exactly what I need? People who understand Naptown, where the good restaurants are, what the political issues are, and what's going on this weekend.

Pick my city, indeed.

Meanwhile, won't completely die. It will linger on a a social networking site.

"How dated and quaint," said Holladay.

That's true. The last thing we need is another social net---HEY!
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  1. Unbelievable. Gannett reminds me of that parent that's always trying to be cool around their kids' friends but never quite gets it.

  2. No question..they don't care about us. As an experiment for Compendium we have built a network of blogs focused on local restaurant reviews. We are trying to Crowdsource the content by having everyone submit reviews.

    The core source is

    The goal is to win all the local restaurant searches instead of citysearch or any of the other outside directories. If you want to help and submit a review, just email it to me.

    Help local restaurants and a local software company at the same time :-)

  3. When I owned my own company, we were involved with a southern Indiana town's chamber of commerce about creating a "community portal" that tied them in with the school system, the local government, and (they hoped) the local radio and newspaper. It was amazing that the radio and newspaper people were the only hold-outs. They were so convinced that their geriatric business models (which arguably only really appealed to geriatrics) would eventually turn around, and were completely against "non-staff" contributions -- yet at the same time farmed out their want ads (formerly a major revenue source) to, ran mostly national content from AP and Reuters, and built their lifestyle section from other content services ... all of which they saw as "cost cutting measures."

    I agree that's problem was more that it didn't really provide anything that other people weren't already doing it a lot better. They would have been better served to enlist and pool resources with sites like,,,,, or even (*cough *hack) who already had a passion for their material, as well as established footholds, in the niches the Star was trying to target. I've got a profile on, but frankly only used it a couple of times. I firmly believe that localized content is the way to go on the Internet, but I think it also needs to be specialized content as well. I'm pretty much burned out on vacuous, generalized social networking sites that only exist for the sake of being a social networking site and try to be all things to everyone.

  4. After winning an Eppy award this year for, corporate's decision to still go with MMX did/does sting a bit.

    That said, we're hoping to use this opportunity to make something better and more useful.

    We're trying to be as open as possible with the development process and features list as we go along, so if there's a direction you want to see it head, feel free to let us know.

    At the end of the day is and was built and conceived by local folks ... and it will continue to be so.

    This time, we're trying to include as many of you as possible in the decision-making process.

  5. @chris, I saw your blogsite. I'm going to put up a couple of restaurant reviews in the next couple of days. I'll email them to you.

    @dummied, I can understand your pain. I would hope the powers that be would recognize that a local voice about local events will carry much more weight than a national voice. Now, it may be the MMX just created the software, but it's still locals who are providing the user generated content. But unless that's painfully clear, I fear will eventually lose ground to Nuvo and other local providers.


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