Convergnce Conference: Michigan as ground zero
Dennis Jeffers, Carol McGinnis, Lori Brost, Sean Baker, Central Michigan
Wide variations, but one commonality – online, radio sites are a dead zone.
Why Michigan? Diverse media. Among worst economies in the nation, so media having to take more drastic steps.
Urban Dailies – canaries I the coal mine? Jeffers thinks so to some extent.
Gannett went to the Thursday/Friday/Sunday home delivery; seven-day e-edition; 24/7 Web site model.
Both (Newhouse) Made Ann Arbor Web only, is following the Gannett model in places like Flint and Saginaw, and is restructuring others.
• The focus has shifted to product, not delivery
• Trying to change people's behavior.
• There is some evidenced of cultural shift in newsrooms, living rooms, ad agency board rooms. In Detroit News newsroom definite evidence, matter of necessity.
But he sees this more as a stopgap model. E-edition is shunned by younger readers. So it keeps your older readers but does not attract new ones.
Uses/gratifications theory may be among the more useful of the theoretical models.
McGinnis looked at community papers. Generally have been defined by geography but more are being defined by community of interest.
Wide range of sites, from some that do almost nothing to full-featured sites. Only one Michigan county does not have a community paper. Ad revenue down 28.8 percent for larger papers and 18.7 percent for community papers. Michigan Press Association found recently that 54 percent questions read weekly papers and 58 percent read daily papers.
This leads in to Brose, who looked at online only sites. Many are new and there is no definitive list.
Lots of sites springing up in Michigan.
Ann Arbor is drawing the most interest
• Loved or hated
• A "river of news"
• Trying to be responsive to reader suggestions and complaints
- Used to have active discussions for past month or two, but users said they just wanted past couple of weeks. Changed.
- New, usable online calendar
- Working on hierarchy of stories
- Bloggers fill in the cracks, especially with things like parenting tips, etc.
Contrast with Ann Arbor Chronicle
Started by former Ann Arbor news writer about a year ago. More traditional news site. Little citizen journalism. Now reportedly self-supporting.
She is pretty sure we can say sites like this are the future of local journalism in Michigan.
(UPDATE: Adds broadcast sites)
Baker looked at 75 broadcast online sites across the state, limited to first news page. Used agenda setting and framing.
(Doug note: I think this research was important because it comes when, with newspaper cutbacks and now with talk of paywalls, TV and other news sites may be where the public increasingly turns for news.) Baker found wide variations, even in the same market.
Detroit: One station has a site that is well-constructed and indexed. Lots of RSS, text-based newsletters and interactives. Content has more local focus. Some new video. But two stations much less.
Grand Rapids: All stations very interactive. Lots of invitations to become part of the community. One has "publish yourself" tools, with blogging, photo galleries, etc.
Flint area- abysmal.
Radio: Sites have little local at all. Link to national news sources common. Seem to be more promotional vehicles than news sites.