Washington Monument as seen from the bus
Originally uploaded by ladygypsy.
I wasn’t going to go to the networking dinner tonight. I was feeling tired and really just wanted to sack out and surf the web. But begrudgingly, I went.
Disclaimer: I am not speaking specifically about the Courier-Post. I am speaking of general trends in ALL newspapers that have been well publicized as of late. So don’t fire me.
There was a great presentation by the API folks tonight entitled “Where is the Love” about how the public perceives newspapers (and newspaper companies). The soundtrack was the Black Eyed Peas song. I suspect I was the only one there who knew the words. The song was bouncy, but the message was pretty grim.
Remember the Dickens story “A Christmas Carol?” Toward the end, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come shows old, crusty Ebenezer Scrooge his near future – in which he is dead. In the George C. Scott version of the movie, it’s a pretty intense scene. This seminar showed me the imminent death of newspapers.
But the good news is…Scrooge was able to change himself in time to change his future. And I totally believe that newspapers can as well.
Scrooge became a nicer guy. He gave Cratchett the day off, bought a goose for Cratchett’s Christmas dinner, gave to charity and played nice with pint-size invalid Tiny Tim.
Scrooge had it easy. How do we deal with declining public opinion, dying readership and suffering circulation numbers?
By letting readers help us direct our efforts. By inviting — and using — their opinions. By doing what we do best, and that is providing local news coverage. But not just local — the buzzword today was hyper-local. Drill down until we get to neighborhood coverage. Provide message boards as an online meeting space. Allow them to quickly get things done on the site — subscribe, vacation stop, place ads, etc. Deliver content to where they are. Phone, PDA, etc. No geese necessary.
But enough about that.
Tonight I was schmoozing with Paul Sherman from Tech Wire and Mark Jacobs from Mythic Entertainment approached the table.
Me: (thinking) Mythic? Certainly not…THAT Mythic…
Paul: Kim, this is Mark. Mark’s company makes online ga–
Me: Mythic??? As in Dark Age of Camelot Mythic????
Mark: (cowering) Depends on if you like the game or not.
So poised newspaper manager dissolved into a gamer fangirl. I was even rocking the ‘fake hair’ tonight. Hopefully I didn’t make too much of an ass out of myself. We had a great LONG discussion about politics, where Mark blamed me for the problems with the Taliban. (grin)
Yeah. Go ahead…you SO envy me right now.
Other highlights included my being ‘outed’ as a blogger by Andrew on the API staff. Damn Technorati. Hi, guys. Welcome to my blog. I don’t do anything cutting edge or political. I also don’t talk about my job too much, due to paralyzing fear of being fired, and the knowledge that my blog is read by upper (read: higher than me) management. I’ve become quite embiggened in the past few days, however. As long as I don’t divulge specifics about the paper or my esteemed Gannett overlords certainly I should be okay talking about the industry.
Tomorrow’s the last day. I’ll probably drive over to the API building in lieu of taking the bus and just leave from there. It’ll be good to be home. Even though my bed here has six pillows. SIX!! All for me! And I use ALL of them. Mua ha ha!
Man, are you going to be in trouble when you get to the Crystal Cathedral after all that you wrote. Just kidding. Here are a couple of observations I have shared in my company this morning. Hope they help:
TRAVEL TIP: When sitting next to someone on a long bus ride, just because conversation lags is not an excuse to read roadside signs aloud or announce the makes of passing cars, Algernon.
RESISTANCE IS USELESS: The most unpleasant news from the multimedia journalism seminar I’m attending in Reston, Va.: The worst part about being part of a multi-platform media team is getting the implant, but after a few days you hardly notice the buzzing noise in your head.