Social Networking Blog

Guy Clapperton on the evolving new media

Newspapers and social networks – do they need rescuing?

Newspapers are using social networks to rescue themselves, says a blog entry on Mashable. They’re using the new media as a way of engaging with the reader in a way they couldn’t have done before and are starting, slowly, to reap the benefits.

To which I can only say a slightly cynical ‘oh, really’? Let’s take this argument to pieces a little (and it’s well-argued, it deserves to be read and considered). First, one of the tenets which must be true if this argument is to hold water is that the newsppwes and existing media don’t engage with their readers already. This is patently not the case. I think I was about 8 years old when I had a joke published in “Whoopee” comic (I know, I know, the Beano would have been cooler but I just didn’t make the grade). I’ve been known to write letters to other publications too – and yes, I’ve become a journalist which is the ultimate interaction with a publication but we’re going to leave that to one side. Non-journalists have had means of interacting with their publications on paper for ages.

Then there are other media. The idea of leaving a comment on a blog is as old as, if not older than, the radio phone-in. There are TV programmes that have invited people to text in their comments for a number of years (Question Time in the UK is one, and it started doing this before the words ‘book’ and ‘face’ were brought together side by side in the way we’ve learned to love by now). Yes, having a Facebook page makes it easier if you’re a magazine and by all means it extends the reach of your communications but is it really all that radical a move? Then there’s the reader event. Years ago I attended a wine tasting organised by the Times. Good Housekeeping has its own exhibition and has done for years. None of this had anything to do with social media but it extended the brands very successfully indeed.

Newspapers and magazines are in troble by all means. There’s a chance that extending into the social media will help a bit. But to suggest that this is more than an extension of something that was evolving already way before the emergence of anything we’d understand now as ‘social media’ is to exaggerate one hell of a lot.

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March 23, 2009 - Posted by | social media trends | , , , , , ,

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