‘Soft parade’ falling flat?

A couple of follow-ups:

*My item a couple of months ago about the upstart San Diego News Network held hope for an emerging revenue model for online media. Unfortunately, that apparently isn’t happening, according to San Diego CityBeat. SDNN has cut back its stipends to bloggers and writers, as well as eliminated its freelance budget. A review by CityBeat shows that ad sales have not been too brisk, also.

As a result, a number of staff has left, leaving the bulk of the work to fall on the remaining area editors. And just how many San Diegians were coming to the site is also unclear.

The rule of thumb is that a new web venture needs about 18 months to build a sustainable readership, but in today’s economic climate, it’s harder for new ventures to ride that timeline if it cannot cover the costs and maintain staff morale during that time.

We can still be hopeful for SDNN. But it if doesn’t make it, at least they tried. And that’s more than you can say for many media businesses right now.

* Washington Post’s Paul Fahri writes in the American Journalism Review about the Twitter explosion, and questions whether it’s just the latest information plaything. I agree with his final assessment that it’s what you make of it.

But keep in mind that in the 1980s — when I worked at Radio Shack salesman selling the new TRS-80 home computer — computers in the home was considered a play toy for the wealthy. Again, we told our new customers the potential of these devices were “what you made of it.”

Thirty years later, home computers have changed the culture and the way we conduct our lives. Twitter may not be the answer, but it is playing a major role in the way people get and share information.

As a business, we need to respect that, and we need to modify or create a product or products that address that.


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