Monday, January 30, 2012

Newspaper wire services are obsolete

It's time to put an end to newspapers' use of wire services.
With more than 50 million Americans getting their news online on a typical day, it doesn't make sense for local media outlets to publish information rooted outside of their locality. And I'm talking about print and online platforms.
I know this is a hard argument to accept for many traditional news-types, especially since it once made perfect sense to run wire copy alongside local stories.
Folks living in Bristol, Tenn. before 24-hour cable news or wide-spread use of the Internet could turn to the local newspaper for trinkets of state, national and international news mostly provided by services like The Associated Press or Reuters. If they wanted more of this content, they could turn to national papers like The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times or USA Today.
Nowadays the first place many people turn to the Internet for coverage of events like the fires in Greece, not I'm not picking on this Web site, nearly every local newspaper site I can think of is guilty of peddling wire content.
Case-in-point: Google "Greece fires" and view the results. The first four results are from the International Herald Tribune, the New York Times and the BBC. The ninth is the random regional pick: The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer.
So maybe that's the payoff: Post wire copy on your Web site in hopes that Google's algorithm can be duped into thinking it's a relevant result. People will then click the link not realizing the story about fires in Greece is from a news outlet in Charlotte, and then click a few ads while they're reading the story.
Here's a better idea: Unless you're a national or international publication, ditch the wire services and redirect the money towards a FTE that can help collect information of interest locally.
If you're attempting to localize a national story, which is a fair journalistic practice, link out to the media outlet where the news is local to them. In the case of the fires in Greece, maybe the Athens Daily News might suffice.
This practice services a dual purpose: providing additional context as only the Web can do, and helping with SEOLinking out can also help reduce costs associated with sending local reporters to a story of national context.
One final benefit to dropping wire services is that local newspaper Web sites will be teaching users to expect local news and information when they visit, something crucial to long-term growth online.
UPDATE: CNN has said it's going to stop using Reuters in an effort to cut costs an invest in their own news gathering operations.


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