Wednesday, 29 October 2008

"Community" creation for newspapers

Oct 27 2008 1:00AM EDT ( Gives Readers a Seat at the Table
If there's a buzzword in the newspaper industry these days -- apart from "downsizing" -- it's "community." The New York Times recently took a step towards getting its readers involved with its new
TimesPeople program, The Wall Street Journal made similar overtures with its recent website makeover, and now the Financial Times is getting in on the action with a new area of its popular Alphaville blog where market professionals can hold their own discussions about the day's news.
Called Long Room, the new offering is named after a famed London restaurant that was once a prime venue for financial chatter. "What we're trying to do is allow our users to have that kind of forum for gossip and discussion and debate in the digital world that they used to have in the real world," says Rob Grimshaw, managing director of Continuing the metaphor, discussion will be divided by topic into "virtual tables," with users free to start their own new ones.
To ensure a high quality of discussion, participants will have to be approved by editors. That vetting process, says Grimshaw, will minimize the risk of users posting rumors of the sort that could have ugly legal ramifications or have a dangerous effect on markets -- rumors like
the one about Steve Jobs' supposed heart attack that appeared on CNN's iReport site. With Long Room's relatively stringent membership policy, Grimshaw foresees a minimal need for moderation: "We are going to be pretty free in terms of how we allow users to use this room."'s foray into community comes a year after the site
switched over from what was essentially a subscription-only model to one that enables users to view a certain amount of content for free. Grimshaw says the new model has been a success: The site now has 750,000 registered users, up from 150,000 at the end of 2007, and it retains a subscriber base of 100,000.
"It's an interesting time in media right now," he adds," because all the other publishers who decided they should just give away their content entirely free of charge might be feeling exposed as the online ad market seizes up a bit. We've got a lot more options in terms of what we do over the next couple years."


"Books about cosmopolitan urbanites discovering the joys of country life are two a penny, but this one is worth a second glance. Walthew's vivid description of the moral stress induced by his job as a high-flying executive with the International Herald Tribune newspaper is worth the cover price alone…. Highly recommended."
The Oxford Times

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