Let’s begin by making a distinction between an online newspaper and a newspaper that’s on line. Here in Tucson we can use the Arizona Daily Star as an example of both of these forms.
Azstarnet.com is an online newspaper. It exhibits all the Star’s stories, plus some extra features, but in a form that indexes them by category. There is another version of the Star available that simply reproduces each page of the paper for you to leaf through as you would if it were spread out on the breakfast table.
Here at The Data Port this last form is the version we prefer. We miss fewer stories as the eye slides over every story on the page and the pages are less cluttered with visual distractions like ads and promos for other stories.
We’re long-term old-guard newspaper junkies so our preference may simply be a matter of what we’re used to. Which you prefer is simply a matter of taste. “Ya pays yer money and ya takes yer choice.”
So…what sort of creature is TucsonCitizen.com? It is something more than a blogging platform like Blogger or WordPress. It bears the name of a major Arizona Newspaper; one which, when it ceased publication on May 16, 2009, was the oldest continuously published newspaper in the state.
The Gannett-owned TucsonCitizen.com emerged shortly thereafter as “The Voice of Tucson,” an online collection of volunteer content providers that Editor Mark Evans describes as, “ Bloggers and citizen journalists here (who) provide news, information, opinion, commentary and perspective on the issues, interests and events that affect daily life in the Old Pueblo.”
But are we a newspaper? Not yet, or not quite. We are still a fairly large and complex bulletin board. You can learn a lot about a community by reading the notices on a bulletin board. You quickly learn what the passions and interests of a fairly small cross section of your citizens are, but they are not put in the context of what else is going on in the whole community.
Context is what raises mere data to the status of news.
Newspapers struggle on the brink of bankruptcy as circulation and readership decline and as the average reader slips further away from the most desirable demographics. Journalism experiments with new strategies, the TucsonCitizen is one such, although not yet as successful as some of us hoped when it was launched.
One of the most successful of the new journalistic experiments is Forbes Magazine. Forbes.com has flourished under a model that its leader, Lewis DVorkin calls “entrepreneurial journalism.’ This is a combination of paid reporters identified as ‘staff’ and bloggers identified as ‘contributors.’ Some contributors are pure volunteers who write at Forbes.com to “brand up” their resumes but others are paid according to page views. The project has been very successful.
There’s a good article at the Guardian. Click here.