I spent the weekend up in Boston, MA at the New York Press Association's fall meeting. It was a great conference attended by publishers of all sorts of newspapers in New York State.  It was a diverse group of people–from seasoned Web veterans to those just getting their newspaper websites started.  

I  had the opportunity to give a presentation Friday morning about opportunities for newspapers online–with my talk based on the results from our 2007 newspaper study.  I tried to show that the Web, while a direct competitor for print, doesn't have to be solely a threat to newspapers. Rather, the Web can present a myriad of opportunities for newspapers, if they just use a little creativity and try new things.  My presentation was well received, and I think that everyone in the room was able to take away some tidbit of information for use at their home paper. You can take a look at my slides here.

Some other speakers at the conference made some really interesting presentations. Peggie Stark Adam presented the results of Poynter's 2007 EyeTrack study, which uses special equipment to track the way people read content in print and online.  She made some great points, and the study's major conclusion, that people read printed content and Web content differently, proves what a lot of people have been thinking for a long time.  Instead of rehashing the results here, I will simply point you to the results on Poynter's website

Bill Ostendorf, from Creative Circle Media Consulting, spoke about his experiences redesigning newspaper websites. He was a dynamic speaker, and reiterated a lot of what we have been saying about newspaper websites on our blog and in our studies, but in a much more in-your-face kind of way.  He really got the point across that newspaper websites generally stink, and showed some ways that his company has helped newspapers redesign their sites.  His company has developed what look like pretty effective content management systems for newspaper homepages and online classifieds sections.  A couple of things he said really stuck with me:

"Newspapers are Stupid! Don't Copy them!"–By this, Bill meant that newspapers, even the big ones, often get the Web wrong.  Despite this, newspapers have been copying each other online for years, which has resulted in LOTS of bad newspaper sites.

"Newspapers are smart and experienced! Learn from them!"–By this, Bill was referring to the success newspapers have had with engaging readers in their print editions. Newspaper websites can definitely take some cues from the basics here and improve their sites immensely.

Bill also made some great points by comparing the Apple and Google sites, two of the most successful websites in the history of the world, with typical newspaper sites like the Providence Journal, the Philadelphia Daily News , or the Honolulu Advertiser. I think his phraseology was, "Would you dress like that??"  Point taken.

Anyway, I thought the conference had a great mix of speakers, and there was definitely something for all kinds of newspaper publishers there, from discussions about design, CMS, advertising, marketing, and other topics.  So, NYPA, thanks for having me!