I often wonder why newspapers web sites don’t aggregate more. Oh, yeah, now I remember … they are afraid of losing readers to the links they’d send them to.
This proprietary thinking, however, carries less weight as readers and advertisers continue to leave. And as newsrooms become leaner and resources become scarce, it only makes more sense to help fill readers’ needs to provide content from outside your walls as well as inside. Consider, for example, that we already provide links away to wire services such as AP and Bloomberg. Well, newspaper pay for that, so they have no problem. But as long as Google and Yahoo are getting away with it, why can’t those of us who are still producing original content also fill gaps from elsewhere…even your competition?
Consider two things:
1. More studies are showing that readers do not go away when you link away from your site. Publishing 2.0 recently pointed out that aggregate sites like the Drudge Report have more readers and keep them longer than traditional news web sites.
2. Newspaper publishers, editors and reporters have been using an excellent example of news aggregators for years…and I’ll bet they didn’t even realize it. Jim Romenesko has been providing a media blog for the Poynter Institute for almost 10 years. Romenesko rarely has original content and links directly to the source of his stories every day. And every day, thousands in the business (and outside as well) come to his site to get a comprehensive snapshot of the media scene.
Now, as a reader of Romenesko, ask yourself: “How many times have I left his site to read a story, and didn’t come back?” If you’re like me, the answer is “never.”
So, in a sense, why can’t newspaper web sites be more like Romenesko? Newspapers still have the advantage of creating original content. But for the new media world, you should focus your resources on content you do best — in most cases, that is local news. Blanket your existing resources on that.
In the areas outside your practical realm, rely on aggregation. Even if it’s a competitor. As long as you can give your readers what they want, when they want it, they will care less where it came from. But they will rely on you to bring it to them.
Drudge is learning that; so is Arianna Huffington. It’s time we all got on the bandwagon. Remember…in the new media world, your enemies will become your allies.