Steve Outing from Editor and Publisher wrote a good column yesterday about the progress newspapers have made in transitioning to online strategies.  He gave the industry a B- for their transition efforts thus far.

Here is a quick summary of his main criticisms of newspaper websites, all of which I agree with:

  • Not enough are using video.  Based on our study, 61 of the top 100 newspapers offer video on their websites.  That number seems ok, but the truth is that many newspapers offer video as an afterthought.  It is rarely a fundamental part of the overall strategy.
  • Better blogging still needed.  Newspapers are blogging (80 of the top 100 according to our research), but Outing believes papers should focus more on breaking news in their blog strategies.
  • Classifieds still stink.  Outing rightly points out that classified ad sections at newspapers are stuck in the 1990s.
  • Not enough interactivity.  In my opinion (and Outings), this is the big one.  In a nutshell, newspapers need to use their website to foster two way communication between readers and journalists.

Personally, I’d give the industry a C and add the following as additional areas of improvement:

  • Work with your local blogging/podcasting/vlogging community.  Newspapers need to figure out ways to effectively incorporate user generated content into their offerings.
  • Focus on local and special interest content.  Too many website emphasize generic national and international AP content that folks can read anywhere.  Newspaper should highlight their own original content – that is where they add value online.
  • Give users different ways to discover site content.  Let users view your homepage based on the most viewed on content in addition to the traditional editorial view. 

You can read Outing’s piece here. 

[Via Techmeme]

About the Author
Todd Zeigler
Todd Zeigler serves as the Brick Factory’s chief strategist and oversees the operations of the firm. In his sixteen year career in digital, he has planned and implemented campaigns for clients including the Pickens Plan, International Youth Foundation, Panthera, Edison Electric Institute, and the American Chemistry Council. Todd develops ambitious online advocacy programs, manages crises, implements online marketing strategies, and develops custom applications and software. He is bad at golf though.