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The next generation of news sites are here… Are we ready?

When Fox 6 debuted their new website,, during the final weeks of American Idol, it provided a glimpse into the potential future of news sites for the metro Birmingham region. It also provided a snapshot of what is happening across the country as traditional newspapers try to capitalize on the growth of the blogosphere and the social networking boom best represented by MySpace in an attempt to expand their pool for potential advertisers. This is not like organizations and corporations are not taking advantage of the buzz right now, including HBO. (HBO Creates MySpace Entourage, Advertising Age, 5.30.2006)

One section that fans are anxiously awaiting on the Fox site is the activation of the Community Section. Viewers will be allowed to take part in the reporting of the news, (posting their opinions on stories reported, posting images that may be spotlighted by the paper, etc.). Efforts have already been tried by several other papers, most notably the New York Times, though it’s My Times section has not launched yet, and the Savannah Morning News, which is already allowing registered users to begin to create pages on their beta site. The Hostess City is definitely living up to its newer nickname, the Creative Coast, with this site. The Times has however included the most blogged category to the sidebar of most stories, enabling readers to know which articles are being linked to the most from its site, driving additional traffic to the stories, and eventually the monetary archive wall.

While the distinction between the journalist and the blogger is quite clear in the minds of those that participate in those realms there are many that blur the line as observers. This has been pointed out extensively throughout the web, including recently on one of my fellow Birmingham Combloggerator sites, Accentuate the Positive 2.0. Do we bloggers still keep our own sites, offering our own style of commentary free from excessive oversight, or do we begin to conform within the guidelines of the major news companies as they begin to modify the MySpace model to the newsroom? Do we need to set standards, or is that why we get read anyway? Will we ever see this model exist here in Birmingham with our newspaper? Do we want it? These are definitely interesting questions to consider as we begin to see the current transformation of the 24-hour newsroom occur before our eyes.

Will getting the reader more involved in the process make them care about the news more? While that may not necessarily be one of the first things that come to mind of the online sales managers, it is something to think about. Knowing that people may read your comments on a story and view pictures that you may have on a topic may be just the thing that is needed to engage a new generation in the news and paying attention to what’s going on around them. It seems to be a good model on several fronts, including the new music television site talked about in yesterday’s post.

It just keeps on getting interesting out there. We’ll just have to keep an eye on it.

Let me know what you think,


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