TheOnline
CommunityCookbook
Recipesforbuildingaudienceinteraction
	 onnewspaperWebsites
digital edge report
March 2008
The Online
CommunityCookbook
digital edge report
By Rich Gordon
Associate Professor, Medill School, Northwestern Universit...
The Online
Community Cookbook
Recipesforbuildingaudienceinteraction			
	 atnewspaperWebsites
	This report was produced by ...
© 2008 Newspaper Association of America. All rights reserved.
In the past year or so, the newspaper industry has devoted c...
© 2008 Newspaper Association of America. All rights reserved.
Here is a summary of the findings:
	 Different people have d...
6© 2008 Newspaper Association of America. All rights reserved.
Online communities have been around for decades – since lon...
7© 2008 Newspaper Association of America. All rights reserved.
Others might just comment on what others have posted. Many ...
8© 2008 Newspaper Association of America. All rights reserved.
WhyOnlineCommunity?
1. Online community builds engagement
F...
9© 2008 Newspaper Association of America. All rights reserved.
2. The media world is no longer one-way
Another important u...
10© 2008 Newspaper Association of America. All rights reserved.
Oklahoma (previous page). The same day, the paper’s Life s...
11© 2008 Newspaper Association of America. All rights reserved.
going to do it,”said Scott Anderson, director of shared co...
12© 2008 Newspaper Association of America. All rights reserved.
Step 1: Identifyyour audience and objectives
Online commun...
13© 2008 Newspaper Association of America. All rights reserved.
The most successful online community initiatives at
newspa...
14© 2008 Newspaper Association of America. All rights reserved.
Communities of passion are an effort to build stronger
con...
15© 2008 Newspaper Association of America. All rights reserved.
Step 2: Consider differenttechnology models
Successful onl...
16© 2008 Newspaper Association of America. All rights reserved.
Topix.com, which is majority owned by Tribune Co., Gannett...
17© 2008 Newspaper Association of America. All rights reserved.
Advice is a key driver of many successful
discussion board...
18© 2008 Newspaper Association of America. All rights reserved.
There also are some newspapers trying to
building communit...
19© 2008 Newspaper Association of America. All rights reserved.
A key to Morris’success is that Spotted doesn’t rely exclu...
20© 2008 Newspaper Association of America. All rights reserved.
Newspapers trying to engage teenagers and young adults, th...
21© 2008 Newspaper Association of America. All rights reserved.
created Vita.mn, a site for young adults interested in ent...
4© 2008 Newspaper Association of America. All rights reserved.
Weinroth, who has worked with a variety of different
newspa...
23
5
© 2008 Newspaper Association of America. All rights reserved.
after initial registration; to complete the registratio...
24
6
© 2008 Newspaper Association of America. All rights reserved.
the site. The Bakersfield Californian hired Matt Munoz,...
25
7
© 2008 Newspaper Association of America. All rights reserved.
9. Create opportunities for online community members to...
26
8
© 2008 Newspaper Association of America. All rights reserved.
Step 5: Intercedeto minimize objectionable content
Firs...
9© 2008 Newspaper Association of America. All rights reserved.
and type those letters into a form. These are called“captch...
28© 2008 Newspaper Association of America. All rights reserved.
Crime and crime-related stories
Accidents
Immigration, nat...
29© 2008 Newspaper Association of America. All rights reserved.
“The advantage of this is that it leaves the words intact,...
30© 2008 Newspaper Association of America. All rights reserved.
Historically, the conventional wisdom has been that many a...
32© 2008 Newspaper Association of America. All rights reserved.
At the Bakersfield Californian, for
instance, the online a...
32© 2008 Newspaper Association of America. All rights reserved.
It’s also important to keep innovating in the community sp...
33© 2008 Newspaper Association of America. All rights reserved.
For more than a decade now, U.S. newspapers have been tryi...
34© 2008 Newspaper Association of America. All rights reserved.
The following vendors have products and software available...
35© 2008 Newspaper Association of America. All rights reserved.
	 Legacy.com
(2008 Marketing Conference booth #515)
820 Da...
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Cookbook08final

  1. 1. TheOnline CommunityCookbook Recipesforbuildingaudienceinteraction onnewspaperWebsites digital edge report March 2008
  2. 2. The Online CommunityCookbook digital edge report By Rich Gordon Associate Professor, Medill School, Northwestern University Director of New Communities, Media Management Center www.mediamanagementcenter.org/newcommunities Edited by Beth Lawton Manager, Digital Media Communications Layout by Sally Clarke Project Coordinator, Audience New Business Development Newspaper Association of America For more information about Digital Edge Reports, contact: Beth Lawton, Manager, Digital Media Communications Newspaper Association of America 4401 Wilson Blvd. Ste 900 Arlington, VA 22203 (571) 366.1000 fax: (571) 366.1195 email: beth.lawton@naa.org www.naa.org © 2008 Newspaper Association of America. All rights reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced in any form or by any means without the prior, written permission of the Newspaper Association of America.
  3. 3. The Online Community Cookbook Recipesforbuildingaudienceinteraction atnewspaperWebsites This report was produced by Newspaper Association of America to tie together the lastest developments in online communities. The Cookboook provides a step-by-step guide to building and sustaining healthy reader participation on your newspaper's Web site. More information and individual sections of this report are available at www.naa.org/digitaledge/cookbook.
  4. 4. © 2008 Newspaper Association of America. All rights reserved. In the past year or so, the newspaper industry has devoted considerable attention to online communities. Newspapers have launched blogs, opened up discussion via article comments, built new online communities themselves (for instance, dozens of“moms”sites) and begun to experiment with the new world of social network sites such as MySpace and Facebook. The Newspaper Association of America’s“Online Community Cookbook”ties together all of these developments, providing a structured approach to understanding online communities and a step-by-step guide to building them successfully in local markets. The examples you’ll read about here provide compelling evidence that online communities are critically important to the survival of newspapers in the digital age. The history of online communities goes back to the 1970s, before the Internet and World Wide Web. Some of the technology approaches used long ago – for instance, discussion forums – are still being used successfully today. However, social network sites such as MySpace and Facebook have refocused attention on the ways technology can be used to strengthen connections among people, as well as connections between people and content. This report, therefore, uses a broad definition of“online community”: online sites and services that allow multiple people to create and share content, communicate with one another and build relationships with other participants. The argument for addressing community in a newspapers’online strategy shows up clearly in usage metrics. Visitors to newspaper Web sites use those sites less frequently, and for much less time, than readers of print editions – or visitors to online community sites. While newspapers have gradually managed to increase the time spent with their sites, nothing they have done has produced results nearly as compelling as the astonishing growth of MySpace and Facebook in the past couple of years. Social network sites may be important for newspapers as well, but they are not the only approach available – and the research for this report suggests they probably are not the best approach to building community in most newspaper markets. That’s because there is little evidence to date that the traffic generated by MySpace and Facebook – largely fueled by usage by young people – can be replicated on sites reaching a broader demographic profile. It does appear, however, that certain features of social network sites – especially the idea of profiles and“friends”lists – can be effective in building usage as well as in reducing the need to moderate and police online discussions. For newspapers that have enabled article comments but struggled to keep the quality of conversation high, these social network features may be valuable additions. It’s also clear that older forms of community – such as blogs and discussion forums – also have important roles to play. The content of this report is drawn from interviews with more than a dozen newspaper leaders experienced with online community initiatives. The report also benefits from the experience and research of Northwestern University’s Media Management Center, where I am director of a new initiative focusing on digital communities. TheOnlineCommunityCookbook Preface definition online communities ~ noun: online sites and services that allow multiple people to create and share content, communicate with one another and build relationships with other participants
  5. 5. © 2008 Newspaper Association of America. All rights reserved. Here is a summary of the findings: Different people have different appetites for interaction. To get maximum participation, a site should offer a range of options – from simple activities such as rating content to more challenging ones such as writing a blog or contributing to a wiki. Online community builds audience engagement. Users of newspaper Web sites don’t visit often or long enough for online usage to entirely overcome declines in the print business. Community features can help address this problem. Community conversations are consistent with the mission of newspaper journalism. David Paul Nord, a journalism historian, argues that“journalism as forum”is every bit as important as“journalism as fact.” Successful online community initiatives require a plan. The plan starts with identifying a target audience and understanding its needs for online commu- nity capabilities. Only then should specific technologies be considered. Social network sites such as MySpace and Facebook have built huge audi- ences, but their lessons for newspaper sites may be modest. They are attract- ing large audiences and considerably more loyalty than newspaper Web sites, but this appears largely to be due to their core audiences of teenagers and college students, who are at a point in their lives when relationships with friends are central to individual identity. While online conversations can get unpleasant, they can also be successfully moderated and kept on track. Choosing the right technology model, requir- ing some degree of registration and devoting staff resources to online communities are among the key steps to success. Online communities can generate new revenue. Newspapers are finding cre- ative ways to build businesses around online communities, selling targeted banner ads and experimenting with new ingredients such as business directories with social-network features. More information and other sections of this report are available at on NAA’s Web site at www.naa.org/digitaledge/cookbook. – Rich Gordon Associate Professor, Medill School, Northwestern University Director of New Communities, Media Management Center www.mediamanagementcenter.org/newcommunities
  6. 6. 6© 2008 Newspaper Association of America. All rights reserved. Online communities have been around for decades – since long before the World Wide Web. The first online communities date to the late 1970s: BBS’s (bulletin board systems) accessed via dial-up connections. Several waves of technological and entrepreneurial innovation have spawned different forms of online community: Videotext services such as Knight Ridder’s Viewtron, which allowed people to do the equivalent of live chat and email in the 1980s. Consumer online services such as AOL and Compuserve, which established discussion forums that drove much of these services’usage during the 1980s and early 1990s. Early Web-based communities such as GeoCities and TheGlobe.com, which became popular during the“dot-com”era of the late 1990s. Weblogs, or blogs, which developed during the early 2000s and enabled com- munities to form around particular writers and also to revolve around groups of blogs connected through links. Most recently, collaborative content-sharing services such as Flickr, Del.icio.us and YouTube, social networks such as Friendster, MySpace and Facebook, and virtual worlds such as Second Life. In recent years, the term“online community”seems mostly to have been displaced in favor of more contemporary buzz phrases such as Web 2.0, social media, citizen journalism and user-generated content. This report, however, will use the older, broader concept of“online communities”to refer to online sites and services that allow multiple people to create and share content, communicate with one another and build relationships with other participants. For news organizations, this definition is broad enough to include some kinds of blogs and blog networks, discussion forums, user comments on articles and blog posts, photo sharing sites, review and rating services, and social network sites. This report will steer away from the terms“user-generated content”(which doesn’t seem to encompass interpersonal communication or relationship building) and“citizen journalism”(which means different things to different people and, at best, refers to just a small fraction of the content published by Internet users). Whatever terms are used, it is important to point out that online users have varying appetites for online activities and interactions. The most active are self-publishers, creating blogs or other kinds of Web sites where they post original content. TheOnlineCommunityCookbook Section1:Overview WhatOnlineCommunityis -andIsn’t online communities ~ noun: online sites and services that allow multiple people to create and share content, communicate with one another and build relationships with other participants definition
  7. 7. 7© 2008 Newspaper Association of America. All rights reserved. Others might just comment on what others have posted. Many just“lurk”– reading, viewing and/or listening to what others have to say rather than publishing themselves. Many online users don’t even do that much. Forrester Research, the research and consulting firm, has conducted surveys that quantify the kinds of“social computing”activities engaged in by Internet users. According to Forrester1 , 52 percent of online adults are “inactives”– they don’t even read blogs or watch user-generated video. Forrester’s research also found the following categories of all online adults (listed in order from least active to most active participation): Spectators (33 percent of all online adults): Read or view content created by others, but don’t create it themselves. Joiners (19 percent of all online adults): Use social networking sites such as MySpace or Face- book. Collectors (15 percent of all online adults): Collect and categorize information by using RSS feeds or sharing bookmarks on sites such as del.icio.us. Critics (19 percent of all online adults): Comment on content or post ratings/reviews on sites like Amazon.com. Creators (13 percent of all online adults): Publish a Web site or blog, or upload content to sites such as YouTube. These are not discrete categories. Joiners may also be Collectors. Critics may also be Creators. It is also important to note that demographics – especially age – are associated with very different patterns of online participation. Most significantly, young adults are much more likely than their elders to participate in all social media activities. For instance, Forrester finds that“inactives”make up just 17 percent of those 18 to 21 years of age, compared to 70 percent of those who are 62 or older. Among people ages 18 to 26, about one-third are content creators, compared to less than 10 percent of those older than 50 years of age.2 In general, young adults are the most likely to participate in all forms of online interaction, especially social networking sites. For media companies that need to engage younger generations to survive, this fact alone should serve as a powerful motivator to develop online community initiatives.
  8. 8. 8© 2008 Newspaper Association of America. All rights reserved. WhyOnlineCommunity? 1. Online community builds engagement For newspapers, the starting point is this: Online users simply aren’t spending enough time on newspaper Web sites. This is a key reason why the growth in online revenues is not making up for declines in print advertising revenues. In 2007, the average user of a newspaper Web site spent 42.9 minutes a month on the site, according to Nielsen//NetRatings data distributed through the Newspaper Association of America3 . That’s up about 7.5 minutes per month from the comparable period in 2004. But even assuming all that time is spent Monday to Friday, Nielsen//NetRatings finds that the average user visits the newspaper Web site fewer than two times per week and spends only about 5 minutes per visit. To put this in perspective, the average user of a print newspaper spends more than seven hours per month (425 minutes) with the paper, according to data from Northwestern University’s Readership Institute. That’s almost 10 times the average time spent with the Web site. Time and again, interactive services have found that interpersonal conversations drive usage and loyalty much better than passive consumption of content. As far back as 1983, leaders of Knight Ridder’s Viewtron videotext service were surprised to see what users found most valuable.“The services that consistently had the most loyal followers were the electronic mail and CB sections, which, like citizen band radio, made it possible for users to interact anonymously with each other in real time,”wrote Roger Fidler, one of Viewtron’s key staff members.4 Research on“online experiences”by the Readership Institute in 2005 provided clear evidence of the value of online community in driving Web site usage.5 The No. 2 driver of Web site usage is the experience Readership Institute researchers called“Looks out for people like me.” This is an experience users describe with language like this: The people who run this site really seem to care about their visitors. This site has a strong sense of community to it. This is a very interactive site. This site offers a variety of different perspectives. To drive home the point, consider Facebook.com, the social networking Web site that in the past year has become one of the 20 most popular sites in the United States based on unique visitors. According to Compete.com, an average visit to Facebook.com in December 2007 generated 44 page views – compared to just 5.5 page views per visit for washingtonpost.com, 7.7 page views per visit for USAToday.com, 6.8 page views per visit for chicagotribune. com and 5.7 page views per visit for azcentral.com.
  9. 9. 9© 2008 Newspaper Association of America. All rights reserved. 2. The media world is no longer one-way Another important usage-driving experience uncovered by Readership Institute research was labeled “Connects me with others.”Users describe sites that foster this experience with words like this: I’m as interested in input from other users as I am in the regular content on this site. A big reason I like this site is what I get from other users. I’d like to meet other people who regularly visit this site. This site does a good job of getting its visitors to contribute or provide feedback. Newspaper Web sites that have worked to create online communities can see that they do increase usage. The Racine (Wisc.) Journal Times found that by allowing users to make comments on news, the number of online users who visit the site regularly (once a week or more) more than doubled, and monthly page views more than tripled.6 At washingtonpost.com, data show clearly users who participate in online conversations use the site more than those who simply read the news, said editor Jim Brady. “We might get 250,000 views for a big national political story, and just 80,000 views for a discussion with (columnist) Carolyn Hax,”Brady said.“But the discussion is more valuable because the people who generated those will generate a lot more pageviews over the course of a month.” Users now expect to interact with news organizations, journalists and each other, said Adam Weinroth, director of product marketing for Pluck, a vendor of online community technology for news sites.“If you look at how the media landscape has changed, it all points in the direction of becoming not only two-way, but multi-way,” Weinroth said. 3. Online community and journalism can be complementary Online communities offer a place for people to talk about what’s important to them and to surface topics that the newspaper may want to report on further, said Jeff Herr, director of interactive media for Lee Enterprises.“Our roles are changing, and maybe for the better of the entire community, if we can get this collective knowledge base and get it out to the community,”Herr said. Brian Baer, editor of the Fredericksburg (Va.) Free Lance-Star’s Web site, Fredericksburg.com, said the paper’s FredTalk discussion board sometimes is the first place community news is posted.“If two teenagers are killed in a car accident, something is likely to be posted on FredTalk before the newsroom finds out about it,”Baer said. At USA Today, where community features were added as part of a redesign in March 2007, newspaper staff frequently use the Web site as a way of gathering information for stories. For instance, when ice storms lashed the Midwest in late 2007, the site invited users to upload photos – and the lead photo with the story came in from a Web site user in
  10. 10. 10© 2008 Newspaper Association of America. All rights reserved. Oklahoma (previous page). The same day, the paper’s Life section on the Web asked readers to submit their family’s Christmas Eve rituals (which led to a Life section cover package), and solicited questions for an upcoming interview with actress Lisa Kudrow. 4. Historically, newspaper journalism has encompassed community as well as news The culture of newspapers in the late 20th century revolved around gathering and delivering a once-a- day news package to consumers. Modern newspapers have overemphasized“journalism as fact”rather than “journalism as forum,”according to journalism historian David Paul Nord. Most papers had letters-to-the-editor pages, but most letters were not printed and even those that were printed were often heavily edited. Nord’s fascinating history“Communities of Journalism”7 argues that in the past, U.S. newspapers served as a hub of community conversations as well. Nord’s book, which covers the 17th to the early 20th century, is full of examples of ways in which newspapers provided a place for people to communicate with one another and build a sense of community cohesion. In 1793, for instance, the Federal Gazette newspaper played a critical role in enabling Philadelphians to communicate with one another during a yellow fever epidemic. The city government used the Gazette to communicate public-health information, doctors used it to discuss remedies, and average citizens shared their own personal experiences. Alexis de Tocqueville, in his famous 19th century book,“Democracy in America,”was struck by the importance of newspapers’role in enabling Americans to communicate with one another, Nord wrote in his book, which was published in 2001.“If Tocqueville could visit the United States today, he would be impressed by our newspapers, pleased by our electronic bulletin boards, but perhaps surprised and disappointed by the separation of the two.” “The separation between information and participation – between the professional mass media and the new interpersonal, interactive media – is wide and growing. Tocqueville would have expected the reverse, that the vastly improved communications technologies of the twentieth century would have made audience participation in the mass media more common rather than less.” Newspapers need to close the gap“between participation and news,”Nord wrote.“Insofar as newspapers have abandoned the role of public forum in favor of merely reporting the news, they have abdicated their fundamental democratic purpose.” 5. Community can build new relationshipswithyour brand During the second half of the 20th century, most newspapers came to dominate their local markets. While papers in one-newspaper towns had large circulations and strong economic performance, local residents often didn’t feel connected to them.“One of the great benefits of community is it changes the nature of how people relate to the brand. I think that’s really important, these days when people seem ever more disconnected from their local newspaper,”said Dan Pacheco, senior manager of digital products for the Bakersfield Californian. Bakotopia, a social network site built by the Californian for young adults interested in entertainment in the Bakersfield area, has an entirely different relationship with its users than newspapers do, Pacheco said. “They call themselves Bakotopians,”Pacheco said.“I can’t think of any newspaper brand that does that. They feel a sense of ownership of it, and it’s their place, and they want it to succeed.” 6. Communitieswill be built anyway –why not havethem benefityour news organization? Whether or not newspapers create online communities themselves, the history of interactive media shows clearly that people will form these communities and that there will be online conversations about the news. These conversations are evident in the“blogosphere”as well as niche sites such as Slashdot and Digg. Better to seize the online community opportunity than let others benefit, experts say. “If you don’t do it, someone else is
  11. 11. 11© 2008 Newspaper Association of America. All rights reserved. going to do it,”said Scott Anderson, director of shared content for Tribune Interactive. Besides sites like MySpace and Facebook, newspapers face competition in the community space from consumer brands, which see online communities as a more effective way of connecting with customers than buying advertising. In a recent article in Advertising Age, online marketers Patrick Hanlon and Josh Hawkins argued for“new strategies and investments to engage consumers in active conversations.” “Traditional media offer monologues,”they wrote.“New social media prompt dialogue.” It’s important that newspapers don’t see themselves only as news brands, Pacheco said. “If you are just doing things with the news-oriented brand online, there are certain opportunities that you are going to miss out on that other brands more focused on communities and users will take advantage of.” Footnotes 1 Li, Charlene,“Social Technographics: Mapping Participation in Activities Forms the Foundation of a Social Strategy”(Forrester Research, 2007). 2 Li,“Social Technographics.” 3 http://www.naa.org/TrendsandNumbers/Newspaper-Websites.aspx (NAA). 4 Fidler, Roger, Mediamorphosis: Understanding New Media (Pine Forge Press, 1997). 5 “The User Engagement Study,”http://www.mediamanagementcenter.org/opa/OPA_overview.pdf (Media Management Center, Northwestern University, 2005). 6 Gordon, Rich,“Audience Building Initiative: Online Community at the Racine Journal Times,”http:// www.growingaudience.com/bestpractices/article0707.html (NAA, 2007). 7 Nord, David Paul, Communities of Journalism: A History of American Newspapers and Their Readers (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2001).
  12. 12. 12© 2008 Newspaper Association of America. All rights reserved. Step 1: Identifyyour audience and objectives Online community initiatives at newspapers often seem to be driven by a desire to apply a “cool”new technology, or by the availability of tools offered by a vendor or strategic partner. “One of the things that has made me crazy about the newspaper industry is that they tend not to have goals, a specific vision that they’re building toward, and outcomes that they’re seeking – beyond, say, putting the newspaper online or using the latest technology that some vendor made available to you,”said Steve Yelvington, strategist for Morris DigitalWorks, the new media division of Morris Communications. Deciding on an approach to online community is getting trickier as more varieties of tools emerge, and as the boundaries blur between different types of technologies. For instance, if you want to provide a place for a niche audience to discuss topics of common concern, options include a blog with comments, a discussion board or a social network group. Which is the right choice? Experts suggest that a news organization should decide on a technology approach only after understanding existing and potential audiences, and deciding on objectives for a community initiative. Forrester suggests a four stage“POST” process to develop a social media strategy: People: Assess how your targeted audience currently uses these capabilities. Objectives: Decide what you want to accomplish. Strategy: Plan for how social media will affect your relationships with the audience. Technology: Only after the first three steps can you decide what technologies to use. TheOnlineCommunityCookbook Section2 HowtoCreateCommunity -StepbyStep The Steps 1. Identify your audience and objectives 2. Consider different tech models Comments Discussion boards Blogs Photo/video sharing Social networks 3. Assign people - the right people - to manage communities 4. Motivate participation Make it easy Communicate your policies and expectations Enable user profiles Actively recruit the first users Welcome new users Provide a wide range of ways to participate Highlight and reward the participation you want Anticipate problems and avoid them Create ways for community members to meet Connect online community with offline participation 5. Minimize “unpleasantness” Use technology to screen objectionable material Enlist user help Actively patrol hot topic areas Consider not allowing comments on every topic When problems (inevitably) arise, RESPOND Have intermediate sanctions
  13. 13. 13© 2008 Newspaper Association of America. All rights reserved. The most successful online community initiatives at newspapers tend to have grown out of a similar approach – targeting a specific audience, deciding on objectives and a strategy, and only then choosing technologies. For instance, Morris’Bluffton Today, a site at blufftontoday.com associated with a relatively new daily print newspaper for a rapidly growing suburban area in South Carolina, was built based on an understanding of its community, which is“made up of private subdivisions with guards in front of them,”Yelvington said.“We wanted people to connect across those border lines. … We had a goal of using the Web site to capture the voice and the issues and the concerns of the community and have the newspaper reflect those issues and concerns.”This led to a decision to build the site, essentially, as a group blog where users can register, create profiles and post whatever is important to them. In Indianapolis, the new-product team at the Indianapolis Star was looking for a way to build connections with the 180,000 women raising children in their market. They knew many of these women were time-pressed and not that interested in a daily newspaper. In interviews and focus groups with mothers, the Star identified a need for these women to connect with and get advice from their peers. They developed IndyMoms, a Web site and monthly print magazine focused almost entirely on mom-to-mom communication8 . In Racine, Wisc., editors at the Racine Journal Times wanted to build loyalty and engagement among users of their news Web site. They read research from the Readership Institute that suggested creating a“talk about it” Web site for people to engage with and comment on the news. This recommendation was based on Readership Institute findings that the“gives me something to talk about”experience is one of the most powerful drivers of newspaper and Web site usage. As a result, they began publishing on a technology platform that made it easy for users to read and comment on the news9 . EXPERT TIP Experts suggest that a news organization should decide on a technology approach only after understanding existing and potential audiences, and on objectives for a community initiative. BOSTON.COM: COMMUNITIES OF PASSION AND GEOGRAPHY The Boston Globe’s Boston.com has begun an ambitious effort to build two different types of online communities: communities of geography and communities of passion. For both types, the site sought to identify online communities with the greatest chance of building user participation as well as the greatest opportunities to generate revenue. Communities of geography are an effort to build“hyperlocal”sites that could be enriched by user- generated contributions and that could offer an advertising environment for small, locally-focused businesses that have been priced out of newspaper advertising. But, with hundreds of towns and neighborhoods in greater Boston, Boston.com needed to figure out which had the strongest potential for a successful community initiative. Teresa Hanafin, director of community publishing for Boston.com, said her team looked for towns that: the Globe covers well; have strong local papers that also cover the community well; have a“goodly number”of active local bloggers; have a“robust commercial district”with many small, locally owned shops; and have active community organizations, a strong municipal Web site, a“lively political culture”and interest from competing sites.
  14. 14. 14© 2008 Newspaper Association of America. All rights reserved. Communities of passion are an effort to build stronger connections among users with common interests. The Globe looked for interest areas that: already attract active, passionate users on Boston.com; represent popular activities, with significant spending, in the Boston area; lend themselves to peer-to-peer advice; have retailers catering to people with this interest; and might benefit from a business or service directory and/or classified advertising. To identify these communities, Boston.com used a variety of research sources, including data on magazine readership, pet ownership and shopping behavior, Hanafin said. Some research was easy, relying only on what the staff already knew about Boston.com users. The site already had active discussion boards for groups such as brides-to-be, parents, pet owners, photographers and people interested in home-improvement projects, so those quickly became areas of possible focus. “We have never really touted the message boards we have in our wedding section anywhere else on the site, and yet those boards are huge,”Hanafin said.“It just demonstrates that people who are committed to trying to find advice, trying to find other people like themselves, trying to find help, will find that help. And there is a really strong community that exists on those message boards. They keep track of wedding dates and send each other good wishes.” Boston.com’s research department provided additional data, drawn from sources such as the Tacoda behavioral-targeting system, which segments Internet users in the Boston market based on their online interests and behaviors. This helped the Globe identify niche interest groups, such as auto enthusiasts, who actively seek out content elsewhere on the Internet but not on Boston.com. Boston.com’s new online community initiatives will begin rolling out in early 2008, Hanafin said.
  15. 15. 15© 2008 Newspaper Association of America. All rights reserved. Step 2: Consider differenttechnology models Successful online communities – whether or not newspapers are involved – use a wide variety of technology models. The technologies can be“home-grown”(developed by the newspaper), licensed and integrated by the newspaper’s technology staff, or provided and hosted by an outside vendor. A. Comments on articles The simplest and fastest way to add community features to a news Web site is to allow users to comment on articles. Many Web site content management systems include this capability“out of the box.”Even if your CMS does not have commenting capabilities included, vendors such as Topix.com and Haloscan.com can provide this service. Topix and Haloscan even host the comments on their servers, so enabling comments can be as simple as adding a small amount of HTML to article templates. Or, you can have a developer add commenting technology to your CMS. Newspaper sites have found article commenting attracts new users and increases the frequency and length of site visits. One powerful example: USA Today’s“Springfield Challenge”invited readers to vote and discuss the different cities named Springfield that were competing to host the premiere of The Simpsons Movie. This discussion attracted more than 21,000 comments. Even so, online newspaper managers have learned the hard way that it can be quite difficult to keep comments on topic, to screen out profanity, racism and personal attacks, and to defend against automated spam software that fills up comment threads with links to sexually oriented and other objectionable sites. Papers as small as the Ventura County Star and as large as The Washington Post have had to turn off commenting temporarily to improve technology or beef up staffing to manage comments more effectively. Two key lessons from newspapers’experience: Lesson 1: The more anonymous the users, the more likely there will be objectionable comments. If any online user can comment without registering, there will be nothing to deter the small fraction of online users who seem to take pleasure in posting inflammatory material. Scott Anderson, director of shared content for Tribune Interactive, oversees the Tribune Co.’s partnership with Topix to provide article commenting on the company’s newspaper sites. Topix’s system does not require user registration, and the company believes a registration requirement would limit the company’s growth and success.“If you have some kind of system to prevent people from posting, they don’t post,”Tolles said. But Anderson said there have been episodes of“horrible, hateful”comments. One comment thread related to a short article about a fire at an abandoned warehouse started off with speculation about whether lightning was responsible.“By the fifth post, it was‘Jewish lightning’and by the sixth post it had turned into anti-Semitic tirades,”Anderson said. The newspaper staff deleted the post, but not before it had been seen by other users. Even so, Anderson said, article commenting is an essential feature for a contemporary news site.“The conversation may not be pretty conversation, but it’s the community talking,”Anderson said.“There’s a lot of bad stuff happening, but over time we will learn how to do a better job of managing it.” Chris Tolles, CEO of Topix, acknowledges that the lack of registration opens the door to objectionable comments. However, he said his company’s tools for managing content – including spam and profanity filtering and the ability to block posts based on IP addresses – can make the problem manageable. More importantly, he said, the open system also makes it easy for people to post relevant information without hassles. After the California wildfires last year, one early commenter wrote,“Burn, California, burn!”Tolles recalled.“But the third comment was a first-person report:‘My roof is on fire, let me describe exactly what’s going on.’” “The shock troops of a community site are people who have strong opinions and say things that other people groan about,”Tolles said.“They are the primordial ooze from which more stuff develops that is interesting. … The really interesting thing is getting first-person accounts of stuff, and that only happens when you have volume. The larger the conversation, the more interesting stuff there is.” Lesson 1:The more anonymous the users, the more likely there will be objectionable comments Lesson 2: It’s hard to build a genuine community spirit with article comments alone.
  16. 16. 16© 2008 Newspaper Association of America. All rights reserved. Topix.com, which is majority owned by Tribune Co., Gannett Co. and McClatchy Co., has been quite successful building an audience by aggregating links to news articles based on topic and geography (community name and zip code), and by enabling user comments on those articles. It’s one of the top 20 news sites in the United States, according to comScore, and most of the traffic and comments are unrelated to newspapers’use of Topix for commenting technology, Tolles said. Lesson 2: It’s hard to build a genuine community spirit with article comments alone. News articles tend to attract plentiful comments, but they don’t tend to spawn real conversations among users. In part, this is because news articles have a short“shelf life”– they tend to be timely and people lose interest in them quickly. Another factor is that most article (and blog) commenting systems are not“threaded” – if the post you want to respond to is days or weeks old, your new comment will be separated from the original one. Also, some newspaper sites move articles to a paid archive after a week or two, cutting off the opportunity for comment threads to continue. Beyond that, comments are scattered all over the site, making it difficult for users to get to know one another and forge interpersonal connections. “It’s very hard to build community from story comments,”said Baer, editor of Fredericksburg.com, which offers article commenting as well as the FredTalk discussion board.“If you’re looking to build community, a discussion board is probably the best thing for you.” B. Discussion boards Discussion boards, or forums, have been a staple of online interaction since the days of consumer online services such as AOL, Compuserve and Prodigy in the 1980s and 1990s. They quickly became plentiful on the World Wide Web as well. Typically, discussion boards are organized into categories and subcategories, with threaded posts (comments can be attached to any other comment, not just to the first one). While discussion boards as a standalone feature are an old technology in Internet terms, they have evolved into a new form as part of“groups”on social-network sites. Whatever technology is used, forums thrive when users with shared interests decide to visit regularly, and when some of those users become active posters. A critical mass of regular visitors and frequent posters is essential – people come to these forums mostly to hear what other people with similar interests think. A discussion board can revolve around: A geographic area. Examples include the FredTalk forum operated by the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star in Virginia, and forums on Boston.com that center around towns and neighbor- hoods. A demographic group. An example is IndyMoms, the Indianapolis Star’s site and monthly magazine for mothers. A theme. Examples include weddings at Boston.com, or Cleveland.com’s forum on the Cleveland Browns. A columnist or personality. The Washington Post has set up discussion boards revolving around columnists such as Eugene Robinson and E.J. Dionne, and around reporters and editors, including Sally Squires, a health editor. Discussion boards can be extraordinarily vibrant and active. FredTalk, operated by a newspaper with a circulation of about 50,000, has 19,000 registered users. At any given time, dozens of people are typically using the site. Among the most popular topics are politics, football, health, television and recipes. “I think there are a lot of people who identify with FredTalk as a brand, separate from Fredericksburg.com or the Free Lance-Star newspaper,”Baer said.“It’s a great place for community connections.” At least three children have been born to parents who met each other on FredTalk. It’s a place where people arrange get-togethers for coffee, exchange CDs, plan Halloween parties and seek advice, Baer said.
  17. 17. 17© 2008 Newspaper Association of America. All rights reserved. Advice is a key driver of many successful discussion boards. Howard Rheingold, in his seminal book,“The Virtual Community: Homesteading on the Electronic Frontier,” wrote that discussion boards on the WELL, a pioneering dial-up service in the Bay Area, repeatedly provided him with valuable answers and information:“The knowledge-sharing leverage of a large, diverse group of people who are motivated to help one another, and whose differences of place and time are erased by [computer-mediated communication], can be considerable.” IndyMoms is a good example of a site where advice drives usage. “If I need a pediatrician for my child, I can’t ask a mom in New York or California,” said Jennifer Gombach, general manager of IndyMoms.“If I want to go on a date with my husband on Saturday night, I need to talk to someone who understands the area.” One advantage of discussion boards is that if the site becomes important in the lives of its users, some may take responsibility themselves for policing behavior. The Star encouraged this to happen by hiring and paying 10“discussion leaders”$25 per week to start and monitor conversations. It’s clear, though, that scale can be the enemy of community cohesion on discussion boards. “On larger sites, you reach a point that at any given moment you’re going to have an idiot online, and that idiot is going to respond to everything,”said Yelvington of Morris.“On smaller sites, people of goodwill have a real chance of posting first.” C. Blogs In the past few years, most newspapers have added blogs as a key feature of their Web sites. Frequently, though, these blogs are nothing more than online columns. For a blog to become part of an online community, one of two things must happen: The blogger needs to encourage participation by audience members by posing questions, post- ing surveys or soliciting content such as photos or silly captions. The blog needs to link to, and be linked from, other blogs. This enables conversations to happen across sites. Two newspaper bloggers whose blogs have become true online communities are Eric Zorn (Change of Subject) of the Chicago Tribune and D.F. Oliveria (Huckleberries Online) of the Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Wash. Both continue to write columns for their newspapers and use their blogs as a platform for interaction with readers and Web site visitors.
  18. 18. 18© 2008 Newspaper Association of America. All rights reserved. There also are some newspapers trying to building community by allowing users to create their own blogs on the newspaper site. Bluffton Today is an example of a small newspaper that has done this with some success. A large paper trying to do this is the Houston Chronicle, with Chron.Commons. A common problem with user-generated blogs is that the people who have the appetite and talent to blog regularly tend to have their own blogs already. Only a few newspaper-hosted bloggers post frequently enough to build a loyal audience. In both Bluffton and Houston, the newspaper minimizes these difficulties by displaying multiple users’blog posts together. In essence, the blog platform becomes a means of aggregating content from many different users. Yelvington said Bluffton Today is“what I would call the shared blog environment, where the view of the content is first-in, first-out,”meaning the most recent post is displayed at the top.“People don’t go to individual users’blogs – they use the home page as a place to engage in the unified community conversation.” Worth watching are initiatives by newspapers to create“blog hubs”– sites that use RSS to aggregate posts from blogs hosted outside the newspaper site. Such sites have been created independently of newspapers – for instance, PhillyFuture.org’s Philly Wire, or the Boston Blogs Network. One newspaper that has recently tried something similar is the Knoxville News-Sentinel, which launched the Knoxville Blog Network in 2007 through a partnership with Blognetnews. com. Washingtonpost.com has created its BlogRoll program, which aggregates content from local bloggers and also helps bloggers make money by selling ads across the network. D. Photo and video sharing Thanks to Flickr and YouTube, many online users have become familiar with the idea of Web sites where they can share images or video with others. Declining prices and increasing quality of still and video cameras and mobile devices have ensured that many newspaper readers have the tools they need to shoot photos and video. Morris Communications is one newspaper company that has embraced these trends with gusto, rolling out “Spotted”photo-sharing sites at all of its company’s papers. As of late 2007, Spotted was generating more than a sixth of the company’s page views, according to Ed Coyle, director of audience growth and development at Morris DigitalWorks.
  19. 19. 19© 2008 Newspaper Association of America. All rights reserved. A key to Morris’success is that Spotted doesn’t rely exclusively on user-provided content, which accounts for about a third of the traffic to Spotted galleries Most of the page views go to photo galleries shot by the newspaper – typically photos of people attending events. Spotted photographers, who are often interns, volunteers or modestly paid senior citizens, go to events such as high school football games, club meetings, parties and concerts. They take pictures of participants and hand out“We Spotted” cards that include the Web site address. The“We Spotted”photos attract an audience, some of whom later post their own photos to the site as well. The site has proven to be particularly popular among young people. The most successful Spotted galleries are from high school sports and entertainment events. “Always go to high school games, proms and parades, and leave out job fairs and the senior citizens council if you have to,”Coyle said.“It works well no matter who you target, but those are the kids with the digital cameras and they’re more online-savvy.”10 E. Social networks The rapid growth and popularity of online social networks such as MySpace and Facebook – especially among teenagers, college students and other young adults – has left leaders at many newspapers wondering what they should do in this area. These sites meet the usual definitions of“online community,”but they also clearly are different from older forms. Before considering social network initiatives, newspaper staff members need to understand exactly what these sites are, who their users are and what benefits they provide. As a starting point, here’s a definition of a social network site, courtesy of danah boyd and Nicole Ellison, two academics who have studied these sites: “We define social network sites as Web-based services that allow individuals to (1) construct a public or semi- public profile within a bounded system, (2) articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection, and (3) view and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system.”11 The user profile and“friends”list are the key components of social network sites, boyd and Ellison said. Social network sites ask users to answer a series of questions about themselves (such as age, location and interests). “What makes social network sites unique is not that they allow individuals to meet strangers, but rather that they enable users to articulate and make visible their social networks,”they wrote. This means that social network sites are fundamentally different from most older forms of online community, in at least two ways: Anonymity is largely pointless. There’s no point to participating on a social network site if you don’t want your identity known to other users. (Most such sites do allow users to conceal part or all of their profiles from strangers.) What drives usage on the site is connections with people you already know. By contrast, older kinds of online communities tend to build new relationships among people who were previously strangers (and might never be able to meet because they live far apart). The huge popularity of MySpace and Facebook might suggest that newspapers should build social networks themselves, but it is important to note that both sites’success is attributable to an important factor that goes beyond their technological features: namely, the age of their core users. Both sites first took hold among young people – teenagers in the case of MySpace, college students in the case of Facebook. For both demographic groups, relationships with friends are central to individual identity. definition social network ~ (noun): Web-based services that allow individuals to (1) construct a public or semi-public profile within a bounded system (2) articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection and (3) view and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system.
  20. 20. 20© 2008 Newspaper Association of America. All rights reserved. Newspapers trying to engage teenagers and young adults, therefore, should consider social networks as part of their strategy. The decision they face is: Build your own social network or piggyback on social network capabilities on other sites? The Bakersfield Californian decided to create its own social network site, Bakotopia (bakotopia.com), for young adults in its market. The original idea behind Bakotopia was to offer a free classifieds site before Craigslist launched in Bakersfield. But the site quickly became popular among young adults interested in entertainment – attracting usage by local bands and young people interested in getting to know their peers. User profiles are the key to participation on Bakotopia, Pacheco said.“Everything you post has a link to your profile, which in turn links everything else you’ve ever posted: blogs, articles, things for sale, comments on others’blogs, comments people have posted on my blog, my reviews, articles I’ve submitted,‘hot or not’ratings, what I like, etcetera,”he said. Bakotopia has evolved into a thriving, locally-based community and has now spawned a biweekly entertainment paper, also called Bakotopia. In addition, its online community features such as profiles, friends lists and blogs have been rolled out to all the Californian’s other Web sites – including the news site (Bakersfield.com); hyperlocal sites (Northwestvoice. com and others); and even classified advertising. The community features now drive 20 to 25 percent of the usage of Bakersfield.com, Pacheco said. The patterns of usage are very different on Bakersfield.com than on Bakotopia. On Bakersfield.com, where news is central to the focus of the site and where the user profile skews older, traffic is driven by usage of content, not interpersonal connections, Pacheco said. Other newspapers are experimenting with Facebook’s“application platform,”which enables anyone to develop technology-driven tools that are distributed through the site and can tap into profile information provided by users. The New York Times has created a news quiz application. 49967 The Washington Post has created a “news tracker” and The Compass, an application that lets users answer questions about their political leanings and then compare themselves with their friends. 56657667674994 As time goes by, online community tools of all types are adding social network capabilities – at least, a unified profile (describing a user and aggregating content he or she has created), a list of the user’s interests and the ability to“friend”other users. Sites as small as Bluffton Today and as large as USA Today have incorporated these capabilities. What’s interesting, experts say, is that on sites that aren’t dominated by young people, these features are accessed less frequently and seem to serve a different function. On Facebook and MySpace, the social network features are the central focus of user activity – these are sites whose central reason for existence is to allow users to build and monitor their social connections. In contrast, on sites like Blufftontoday. com and USAToday.com, profiles and friends lists are part of the context that “helps moderate behavior,”Yelvington said. The fact that everyone has a profile reduces the frequency of objectionable content, and having the profile linked to user contributions helps users evaluate the merits of material that others have posted. In 2006, the Star Tribune in Minneapolis
  21. 21. 21© 2008 Newspaper Association of America. All rights reserved. created Vita.mn, a site for young adults interested in entertainment in the Twin Cities. Like Bakotopia, the site has profiles, friends lists, groups and other social network features. The site is just more than one year old, and generated more than two million pageviews in 2007, with pageview totals increasing by 10 percent a month. “Social networking is not what drives usage on Vita.mn,”said Matt Thompson, deputy Web editor for the Star Tribune, and editor of the entertainment site.“The purpose of the site is not to be a social networking site. Facebook: That’s its focus and its form. But Flickr is not a social networking site, it’s a photo site with a social network layer. Vita.mn is an entertainment site with a social network layer.” Nevertheless, Thompson said, user profiles are important to participation on the site.“User profiles are not a significant source of Vita.mn’s traffic, but at the same time, without them, the site would lose air.” Step 3: Assign people –the right people –to community management When budget pressures are forcing newspapers to cut newsroom and other positions, it is tempting to hope that online communities will thrive without requiring much attention from the staff. Online community experts say, unfortunately, that’s not the case. At a minimum, someone must be ready to respond promptly to user complaints about objectionable content. At small sites, this may be sufficient – the volume of participation may be low enough, and community cohesion strong enough, that the job of responding to complaints can be given to one person on a part-time basis or even be shared by several staff members. When the Racine Journal Times rolled out article commenting, for instance, the technology was set up so complaints of objectionable content were sent by email to 10 newsroom staff members, any of whom had the power to delete a comment. Most days, only a few complaints were registered. But as sites grow larger and more complex, the task of managing community can become a full-time job for one or more people. Two years ago, washingtonpost.com had to shut down comments on one blog because profanity and personal attacks got out of hand on the site.“That was the early days – we didn’t have the right tools, the profanity filter wasn’t working properly, and no one was keeping an eye on comments,”said Jim Brady, editor of washingtonpost.com. Since then, the paper has enhanced its technology (it uses technology from Pluck) and has added two full-time positions for people whose main responsibility is to manage comments. Now the site gets 6,000 to 8,000 comments a day, and about 200 complaints of objectionable content, Brady said. “The amount of abuse reports has gone down, and we’re generally happy with the situation,”Brady said.“It’s easier now. It doesn’t mean we don’t have problems.” Beyond responding to complaints, attention from staff members can help build a sense of community cohesion on the site. In Bakersfield, Jason Sperber is assigned full-time as community content coordinator for Bakersfield.com, the newspaper’s main news site. “He’s always in that community, and the biggest lesson is that having someone who is ever-present and who sets a good example is really key to guiding the direction your community is going to take,”Pacheco said.“He primarily leads with a spotlight, complimenting people, but occasionally, when someone is out of turn, the core community members will notify Jason.” EXPERT TIP At a minimum, someone must be ready to respond promptly to user complaints about objectionable content. At small sites, this may be sufficient... But as sites grow larger and more complex, the task of managing community can become a full-time job for one or more people.
  22. 22. 4© 2008 Newspaper Association of America. All rights reserved. Weinroth, who has worked with a variety of different newspapers in implementing Pluck’s online community tools, said responding to complaints is just a first step to success. “The community can certainly police itself, it can’t necessarily manage itself,”Weinroth said.“That’s where an involved editorial staff can add a whole lot of value.” Managing online communities requires an unusual skill set – part psychologist, part social worker, part police officer. Some sites find that they can best find these skills outside the newspaper. Sperber, for instance, is a former teacher who had never worked for a newspaper before taking the Bakersfield.com job. He had, however, been blogging actively about his experiences as a“stay-at-home dad,”which gave him valuable experience in building community online. Advance Internet hired Marc Mercer, who previously helped set up an online community for the state human services department, to oversee forums and comments for the company’s 10 different sites across the country, including Cleveland.com, NJ.com, Nola.com and Oregonlive.com. Whatever someone’s previous work experience, a community manager should be someone who understands and has previously been involved in online communities, experts say. “In general, the newspaper people are pretty uncomfortable in this environment,”Mercer said.“I think it’s because they’re accustomed to an environment that’s very controlled. Someone submits a letter to their editor, they give you their name address and phone number and you can decide whether to print it. That’s not the way the Internet is.” Step 4: Motivate participation (solvethe“zeroto one problem”) After identifying a target audience, developing a strategy and setting up the technology, the task of building community begins. The first obvious challenge is to make people aware that the online community tools exist and – if you’re launching a new site – get them to visit. But beyond that, the key to success is to motivate people to participate actively, not just visit and“lurk.” Ze Frank, a designer, humorist and consultant who has built a community around his blog-based site, talks about the“zero to one problem”– what it takes to turn someone from an observer into a content creator. Jakob Nielsen, a researcher and consultant who focuses on Web site usability, said that participants in online communities typically can be categorized according to a“90-9-1 rule”12 . 90 percent read or observe, but don’t contribute; 9 percent contribute only from time to time; 1 percent participate a lot and account for the majority of the content. There’s nothing inherently wrong with having 90 percent of your audience be silent observers – as long as the remaining 10 percent provide them with enough interesting and relevant content to keep them coming back. This section of the report describes lessons from the experts on how to motivate participation. Not all of these recommendations will apply to all kinds of sites. 1. Make it easy to participate – but know that making it too easy will mean more work in monitoring and policing user contributions For maximum participation, the best approach would be the one used by Topix: allow anyone to post without registering. But the evidence suggests that the lack of a registration requirement will make it too easy for people to post objectionable content. At newspaper sites, the most common policy is“light registration”– requiring as little as a consistent“handle”or nickname and a valid email address. (Typically an email is sent to that address The community can certainly police itself; it can't necessarily manage– itself. That's where an involved staff can add value. – Adam Weinroth, Pluck Media
  23. 23. 23 5 © 2008 Newspaper Association of America. All rights reserved. after initial registration; to complete the registration process, the user must click on a link in that email.) The Racine Journal Times initially did not require registration to post comments on articles and blog posts, and this open system certainly contributed to the dramatic growth in user activity on the newspaper’s Web site. But the quality of the conversation definitely improved once limited registration requirements were imposed, said Herr of Lee Enterprises. “With light registration, the whole tenor of the dialogue improved almost overnight,”Herr said. Requiring additional information such as zip code and gender can provide useful demographic information for understanding users and, potentially, targeting advertising. By asking for some personally identifiable information – even if that information can be accessed only by staff – a Web site can build stronger relationships with its users, Yelvington said. “We ask for phone numbers. People don’t have to provide them, but most do,”Yelvington said.“Once they’ve done that, they feel like they have a relationship with you.” 2. Communicate your policies and expectations prominently, and invite users to help build your community All sites that require registration, and many that don’t, publish a“terms of service”agreement in which users agree (whether or not they’ve read it) not to post objectionable content or engage in other antisocial behavior. But sites can do more than that to establish norms of behavior. Many sites publish their policies and expectations prominently anywhere a user can post content. The Ventura County Star, for instance, posts an abbreviated user agreement adjacent to comments that explicitly lays out the rules and expectations, reminding users“not to post comments that are off topic, defamatory, obscene, abusive, threatening or an invasion of privacy.” Bluffton Today has built a strong community in part, Yelvington said, because the site created a prominent mission statement and explicitly invited users to be part of the community. “With your help, we will provide a friendly, safe, easy to use place on the Web for everyone in Bluffton to post news items, create a unified community calendar, and share photos, recipes, opinions,”the policy says, in part. “In return, we ask that you meet this character challenge: be a good citizen and exhibit community leadership qualities. It’s a simple and golden rule. Act as you would like your neighbors to act.” The phrase“with your help”, which Yelvington took from a model policy drafted by online managers who participated in a Poynter Institute program, was an important“note of humility,”Yelvington said. “Having prominent language about what you’re trying to accomplish and asking them to join you in that mission, and exhibit leadership, really works,”Yelvington said.“Humility and respect in all directions was really the key to this.” 3. Enable user profiles so participants can get to know one another Publicly available profiles that link to all contributions a user has made will help users build relationships and feel part of the community, experts say. “In an offline context, when someone stands up and starts talking, you get a sense of who they are from being around them physically,”Herr said.“You don’t have that context online – a profile gives you a little more depth, including past commentary, so you can decide whether to participate in a conversation with that person.” 4. Actively recruit the first participants Bluffton Today and IndyMoms both sought out the first wave of contributors before their official launches, to pre-populate the site with content and to help set expectations for future users. In the case of IndyMoms, the newspaper paid 10 discussion leaders $25 per week to start discussions and prepopulate the site with comments. “I looked for women whose comments were very positive, whose tone was encouraging,”said Epha Riche, editor of IndyMoms.“They were just instrumental in helping us set the tone from the very beginning.” 5. Welcome new users One way to help establish a positive environment for user participation is to formally welcome new users to
  24. 24. 24 6 © 2008 Newspaper Association of America. All rights reserved. the site. The Bakersfield Californian hired Matt Munoz, a local musician who was an active early user of Bakotopia, to serve as product manager for the site. One of his responsibilities is to welcome people who’ve just signed up. “If you join the site you are immediately befriended by Matt. It’s all about that positive element – that once you participate, you’re cool,”Pacheco said.“It’s almost like walking into a new church and having people talk to you after the service so you feel like you belong.” 6. Provide a wide range of ways to participate. Most users won’t immediately want to participate in“high intensity”activities like creating a blog, said Thompson of the Star Tribune.“We wanted folks to be able to interact on Vita.mn through a whole range of intensity, from very low to very high.” At the low end, a Vita.mn user can simply“save”content for later review, rate contributions by others or add tags to content. About a quarter of Vita.mn users have tagged content. A slightly more intense activity is creating lists, such as“Best songs of 2007,”or“Greatest board games of all time”or“I’m sorry, I can’t date you because … .”About 20 percent of Vita.mn users have contributed lists, more than 15,000 lists in all, Thompson said. The most demanding type of contribution is to use Vita.mn’s wiki-based software to create or edit a“guide”– such as advice on finding good local music or how to“live green”in Minnesota. After a year, the site has fewer than 100 guides, and most have been edited by only a handful of people. But the guides“include some of the richest and most useful content on the site,”Thompson said. 7. Highlight, reinforce and reward the kind of participation you want If you want users to participate in the community, it’s important to feature and celebrate good contributions. One way to do this is simply to highlight popular or highly rated content all over the site, Thompson said.“We discovered shortly after we launched that if we don’t put the user content out there prominently, we don’t encourage people to participate.” The Star Tribune redesigned the site to“bring user participation to the foreground,”Thompson said. For example, the main music page features the events saved most frequently, recently updated music lists and guides, four user-contributed photos, recent discussions and comments and a“tag cloud”for music events. Vita.mn also lets users accumulate“karma”points for their contributions to the site. Karma scores go up when other users save it, comment on it or tag it. Once a month, the site awards prizes to users who have earned a lot of karma that month. “That has been a huge driver of participation,”Thompson said.“Just as the promise of rewards gives people something to aim for, also it gives the site a sense of purpose, of game play. The karma contest itself is entertainment.” At USAToday.com,“Pop Candy”blogger Whitney Matheson highlights a“featured reader”every day, listing famous people they’ve met, their favorite movie, book and TV show, and when they started reading Pop Candy. “It’s a huge conversation starter every day,”said Patrick Cooper, network editor for USAToday.com. Indeed: The “reader of the day”post routinely generates more than 1,000 comments, and has been known to generate twice that. 8. Anticipate possible problems and deal with them preemptively if possible One reason it’s important to assign staff to monitoring online communities is that experience can indicate what topics are most likely to generate hostility or objectionable content.“Certain topics you have to keep an eye on,”said Brady of washingtonpost.com.“Abortion, gun control, local crime – there are spots you sort of know may be difficult.” At IndyMoms.com, editor Riche knows the kinds of topics most likely to generate heated discussion – for instance, whether or not to spank a child. When a new discussion thread seems like it will be controversial, she will make a post herself reminding members to“respect each other’s opinions,”she said.“Sometimes I’ll go in and say,‘OK, everyone, let’s take a breather. Step away from the computer and think before you type.’If it’s not something you would say to a room full of people you just met, you should think twice about posting it to our forum.”
  25. 25. 25 7 © 2008 Newspaper Association of America. All rights reserved. 9. Create opportunities for online community members to meet in person Live events can cement bonds first formed online, and create new ones that encourage further online participation. FredTalk has regular FredTalk User Group meetings. Vita.mn holds mixers at local bars. Matheson, the USA Today pop-culture blogger, has held“meetups”around the country that have each attracted dozens of her readers.“She gets hundreds and hundreds of comments a day, with a very low level of abuse,”Cooper said. “It’s a very successful community.” 10. Connect the online community with the offline operation The newspaper staff and its print products are enormous assets that can help an online community thrive, experts say. At a minimum, print products can drive traffic to online communities. Newsday, for instance, frequently solicits user comments via prominent mentions on the front and back covers of the paper’s print edition (see area circled in red). Some papers are more actively trying to involve the newspaper staff in online communities. More than 100 USA Today staff members, for instance, have set up profiles on USAToday.com. The newspaper encourages journalists to participate in online conversations when relevant. For instance, a New York-based reporter did a story about bedbugs, including her own personal experience with them. An active discussion ensued on the Web site.“She jumped into commenting on what various people had to say, providing more information, and people reacted very positively. They saw this person as a member of the community, too,”Cooper said. For a newspaper, said Weinroth of Pluck, integrating traditional products and online community is an important opportunity. “Our customers want to make communities not just a sideline or footnote to the user experience but something that is strategically integrated to what they’re doing as a news company,”he said.
  26. 26. 26 8 © 2008 Newspaper Association of America. All rights reserved. Step 5: Intercedeto minimize objectionable content First, the obvious: There will be unpleasant content, and allowing a free-for-all may draw many comments initially, but it will deter many people from participating, perhaps even visiting later. “You might have this view that people reading your stories are educated and savvy when, in reality, there is a percentage of your audience who will leave messages that will make you cringe,”said McCarthy of Newsday.“It’s been relatively clean here, but that said, when it’s bad, it’s really bad.” Objectionable content is especially prevalent when a particular topic brings together people who don’t have a sense of affiliation with the site and other users, experts say. In general, allowing commenting on news articles will surface more unpleasant behavior than creating a site for people with common interests. In Bakersfield, for instance, the newspaper uses the same technology platform for Bakotopia (the site focused on young adults and entertainment) and for Bakersfield.com (the main news site). Problematic content from users is rare on Bakotopia and much more prevalent on Bakersfield.com. “With a news brand, there is this core group of people who just want to talk about issues – liberal vs. conservative, black vs. white – and identify all the ways they are different,”Pacheco said.“What people associate with that brand is very different than what they associate with some of the new brands like Bakotopia, which started as pure community brands. News and issue discussions seem to take over. People who want to talk about girls’soccer, the things they have in common, they tend to get drowned out. … It’s because the news brand tends to be about controversy, I think.” But even sites where people bond and share common interests can generate antagonism and name-calling, in part because people can come to know one another well enough to decide they don’t like some of their fellow participants. “With FredTalk, things get very personal,”Baer said.“In some cases, members of that community really hate each other. It’s hard to get to that level of hate as intensely and quickly with story comments.” One option is to have all user comments approved by staff before public posting. That was the approach announced in November by The New York Times when it began allowing comments on selected news articles. The paper hired four part-time staff members to screen user comments.“A pure free-for-all doesn’t, in my opinion, equal good,”Times Digital CEO Martin Nisenholtz was quoted as saying in Public Editor Clarke Hoyt’s November column.“It can equal bad.” But few papers have adopted the Times’approach – in part because it is so expensive to administer, and in part because this kind of prior review can deter participation. People who have something to say will engage more deeply with a site if they can see their postings appear immediately, experts say. So most sites let text contributions go live immediately (it’s more common to pre-screen photo submissions) and deal with problems as they arise. “Most of our customers say,‘I’m not going to throw an army of staff at microscopically managing every single unit of content that comes through the system. At the same time I want to have a level of control that makes it manageable and that creates a good experience for the users,’”said Weinroth of Pluck. From the experts, here are some strategies – some human, some technological – for dealing with troublesome users and objectionable content. 1. Apply technology to screen and/or prevent objectionable material Technology is a critical ingredient for making communities manageable. In fact, said Clay Shirky, a respected author and consultant, the technology is inextricably connected to the human aspects of online communities. “You cannot completely separate technical and social issues,”Shirky wrote.13 For successful online communities, key technology features include: Features to deter automated postings. If a site doesn’t require registration,“spambots”can overwhelm a commenting system by posting comment after comment containing nothing but links to pornographic or other objectionable sites. A common solution is to make commenters do something that only humans can do – for instance, read an image containing distorted letters
  27. 27. 9© 2008 Newspaper Association of America. All rights reserved. and type those letters into a form. These are called“captcha”systems (an acronym for Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart.”)14 ‘Dirty word’filters. Most online-community software can screen out or alert staff to posts contain- ing profanity or other words you don’t want to see on your site. Look for tools that enable you to build your own dictionary of objectionable terms. But this is not a foolproof solution – people are endlessly creative in coming up with new spellings to evade these filters. At Advance, Mercer recently found that the automated filter was blocking posts about“Dick Cheney.” Spam filters. Some software can alert staff to potential spam posts by analyzing the content of messages or, as with Topix tools, cross-referencing with a database of known spam sites. Filters based on user ratings. Software allowing users to rate other users’postings can be used to affect the display of that content. At Slashdot, an extraordinarily popular technology-oriented discussion site, every user can set a threshold for content ratings – anything below that threshold will simply not be visible. Technology that leverages human nature. For instance, Pluck’s community management tools can be configured to motivate positive participation by letting people earn the right to post without prior staff approval. If a site desires, the first posts from new users won’t go live until they’re reviewed, but after some number of approved postings, a user can have his or her com- ments go live automatically. Another approach, said Jeff Herr of Lee Enterprises, is to“silently squelch”certain participants. Once a participant is designated a known troublemaker,“that person keeps posting and they see their comments but no one else does. … They’re no longer getting the responses that used to give them such a kick. Nobody’s responding and pretty soon it’s not so much fun any more.” 2. Enlist help from users In police work, informants are critical because they can let officers know when something significant has occurred, or is about to. That’s why, in online communities, the simplest and most important tool is a“report abuse”or“report objectionable content”button. Typically these tools are configured to alert staff members who can then review the content and consider deleting or editing it. More sophisticated tools can be set up so more than a certain number of complaints will cause the content to be removed automatically. Beyond that, some sites like IndyMoms have had success recruiting paid or volunteer moderators who can intercede when conversations are deteriorating or remove objectionable posts themselves. “You can build a core group of followers,”Yelvington said.“That core group is going to model the behavior that you want others to follow, and people will tend to fall into place.” 3. Actively “patrol” areas where there is a lot of activity or topics that are known to be sensitive Community managers can minimize problems by watching out for flurries of posts on a particular article or topic (online community software can even highlight these areas automatically). With experience, they can also recognize topics that are particularly likely to stimulate emotional or objectionable contributions. “In stories that involve race, crime or sex, those are the discussions that tend to trend rather badly, especially if they involve all three,”said Mercer of Advance. Other known“hot-button”topics include immigration, religion, sexual orientation, public corruption and high school sports. 4. Consider not allowing users to comment on every topic For topics around which conversations often turn unpleasant, one option is simply not to allow comments at all. Newsday recently wrote a policy advising editors not to allow comments on:
  28. 28. 28© 2008 Newspaper Association of America. All rights reserved. Crime and crime-related stories Accidents Immigration, naturalization and other nationality/race-related stories Stories that highlight racial distinctions Stories that highlight religious distinctions Stories that are sexual in nature Stories involving children Deaths The policy also encourages“close moderation”for stories involving sexual orientation”and public corruption. It’s important to realize, though, that shutting off comments can limit the success of a community. At the Racine Journal Times, a murder case involving a shooter and victims of different races was one of the key drivers of growth in the paper’s online community.15 “I’d rather let people talk about things and handle it through moderation rather than shutting down a board,” said Brady of washingtonpost.com. 5. When problems arise, respond quickly and decisively At Advance, Mercer oversees a staff of home-based workers who monitor conversations around the clock on its network of sites, which collectively may have the most user contributions of any newspaper company. Users click the“Inappropriate Posts? Alert Us”button 1,200 to 1,400 times per day, Mercer said. “The longer you leave something up, if it’s nasty, it gets nastier. Other people respond, and their response is the same thing usually or even worse,”Mercer said.“So it’s very important, if you can, especially during the active part of the day, to respond in real time.” 6. Have intermediate sanctions “You don’t train a puppy by saying no a couple of times and then hitting it on the head with a hammer,”Mercer said. By having a range of penalties, site managers can most effectively deal with problematic users. At Advance, the first penalty is to delete the comment. Frequent offenders can have their account suspended. If they try to set up a new account, Mercer’s staff can block them based on their IP address. One creative tactic adopted by a few sites is known as “disemvowelling.”When someone makes an objectionable post, the staff doesn’t delete it – instead, they edit out all the vowels in the content. (Software can do this with a single click.) AD9965 definition disemvowel ~ (verb): to remove the vowels from text to remove the “sting” from objectionable content by forcing slow reading Used as a forum moderation method as early as November 21, 2002 by Teresa Nielsen Hayden on Making Light.16 55877
  29. 29. 29© 2008 Newspaper Association of America. All rights reserved. “The advantage of this is that it leaves the words intact, but requires that you read them very slowly – so slowly that it takes the sting out of them,”Cory Doctorow wrote in an excellent article,“How To Keep Hostile Jerks From Taking Over Your Online Community,”in Information Week in 200717 .“And, … disemvowelling part of a post lets the rest of the community know what kind of sentiment is and is not socially acceptable.” Footnotes 8 Gordon, Rich,“IndyMoms Draws Busy Parents with Discussion, Niche Content”(http://www. growingaudience.com/bestpractices/indymoms907.html). 9 Gordon,“Audience Building Initiative: Online Community at the Racine Journal Times” 10 Gordon,“Spotted at Morris Communications (http://www.growingaudience.com/bestpractices/ audience_report.html#spotted). 11 boyd, danah m. and Ellison, Nicole B.,“Social Network Sites: Definition, History, and Scholarship” (http://jcmc.indiana.edu/vol13/issue1/boyd.ellison.html). 12 Nielsen, Jakob,“Participation Inequality: Encouraging More Users to Contribute”(http://www.useit. com/alertbox/participation_inequality.html). 13 Shirky, Clay,“A Group Is Its Own Worst Enemy,”(http://www.shirky.com/writings/group_enemy.html). 14 For more on‘captcha’technology, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Captcha and http://www. captcha.net/ 15 See http://www.growingaudience.com/bestpractices/article0707.html 16 See http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/disemvowel; http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/ archives/001551.html#8725 17 Doctorow, Cory“How To Keep Hostile Jerks From Taking Over Your Online Community,”Information Week, May 2007 (http://www.informationweek.com/news/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=199600005).
  30. 30. 30© 2008 Newspaper Association of America. All rights reserved. Historically, the conventional wisdom has been that many advertisers don’t want to buy space on pages where users are interacting with one another. This may be because they expect users engrossed in conversation will miss the ads, or because they’re uncomfortable with discourse may deteriorate into profanity or“flame wars”between users. But newspapers with successful online community strategies are finding that they can be revenue generators. Here’s some advice based on their experience: Integrate community features with editorial content. If the user-generated content appears on different pages than editorial material, the adjacent ad space is less likely to be appealing to advertisers, experts say. This is one advan- tage to having comments appended to the bottom of news articles instead of on a separate page hosted by a vendor such as Topix. Create community-driven sites to cater to targeted audiences that niche ad- vertisers want to reach them. Ad inventory on IndyMoms.com sells out almost every month, said Gombach, the site’s general manager.“A lot of the advertis- ers on the site are new to the Star, smaller advertisers, because it’s delivering an audience they wanted to reach.”Boston.com’s“communities of passion” initiative is based on a similar approach. Allow ad sales staff to specialize when possible. At the Indianapolis Star, there are three dedicated online sales representatives (who sell ads on IndyStar.com, IndyMoms.com and the paper’s pets site, IndyPaws.com), and two sales repre- sentatives who primarily sell ads in the IndyMoms print magazine, Gombach said. Work hard to keep the conversations on track. The key to attracting advertisers is relevant, high-quality user contributions, said Weinroth of Pluck.“If you can implement these kinds of tools in a way that people are encouraged to stay on topic and stay on quality, that’s not a turnoff, that’s when it ends up adding value, and adding other things such as pageviews and repeat visits,”Weinroth said.“Brands and marketers are just as eager [as publishers] to tap into the power of social media and reach audiences in hard-to-reach places.” Newspaper sites are also experimenting with creative ways of generating revenue beyond the banner-ad model. At Morris, the card that Spotted photographers hand out at events is blank on the back, a space that can be sold as a sponsorship or as a redeemable coupon, Coyle said. The company is also selling sponsored“before and after”photo galleries. Customers can include landscaping contractors, remodelers, cosmetic surgeons and orthodontists. Leaders of newspaper sites also believe that they can leverage online social networks to benefit advertisers. TheOnlineCommunityCookbook Section3: MakingMoneywithOnlineCommuity
  31. 31. 32© 2008 Newspaper Association of America. All rights reserved. At the Bakersfield Californian, for instance, the online autos section doesn’t just list cars for sale. It also includes links to Bakersfield bloggers’posts about cars, to user- submitted stories and photos of cars, and to people who have tagged their profiles indicating they are car enthusiasts. With enough content and user profiles tagged like this, Pacheco said, tagged content could be sold to an advertiser seeking very targeted exposure.“We think we can sell the tags like Google sells keywords,” Pacheco said.“With people just sharing so much personal information for each other, it’s really a good thing. I think we can tie that to permission-based advertising.” Some newspapers, including the Californian and those operated by Lee Enterprises, are moving to develop what Herr called“a commercial social marketplace.” Think of this as the yellow pages plus social networking capabilities. “We want consumers recommending to their network their favorite sushi restaurant, house painter, criminal attorney, florist or whatever,”Herr said.“And as they recommend a business to their network, that business has an opportunity to return the favor and, say, invite you to join Dave’s Brewpub Club. This takes what historically has been a failure, a business directory, and turns it into a business recommendation engine.” A key challenge to overcome in generating online revenue in local markets is selling to small businesses that newspapers have historically ignored.“Targeting those niche advertisers is a brand-new skill for an organization like the Star Tribune,” Thompson said. Herr said Lee plans to add sales representatives to sell ads on its“social marketplaces.”
  32. 32. 32© 2008 Newspaper Association of America. All rights reserved. It’s also important to keep innovating in the community space, Herr said. The Racine Journal Times found success by enabling comments on articles -- tripling page views in two years and building revenue substantially -- but didn’t stop there. A July 2007 redesign of the site, which added a registration requirement and social network-type profiles, initially depressed traffic. But by the end of the year, total page views had recovered -- and more importantly, Herr said, the number of monthly page views per unique visitor had risen from 7.2 to 12.7 from December 2006 to December 2007. “Creating the community and really cultivating it is hard work,”Herr said.“But it’s worth it. If we become a place where people come, they’ll stick around and find our news content and advertising and everything else we offer.”
  33. 33. 33© 2008 Newspaper Association of America. All rights reserved. For more than a decade now, U.S. newspapers have been trying to cook up a winning Web strategy, starting with simple meals (publishing print content online) and later moving up to more complicated fare such as audio, video, games and searchable databases. Newspapers have been slow, though, to add what might be the most important ingredient: online community. This report, based on interviews with some of the industry’s leading experts on online audience interaction, makes the case for adding community to the menu and provides step-by-step guidance on how to do it. Here is a summary of the findings:| Different people have different appetites for interaction. To get maximum par- ticipation, a site should offer a range of options – from simple activities such as rating content to more challenging ones such as writing a blog or contributing to a wiki. Online community builds audience engagement. Users of newspaper Web sites don’t visit often or long enough for online usage to overcome declines in the print business. Community features can help address this problem. Community conversations are consistent with the mission of newspaper jour- nalism. As journalism historian David Paul Nord puts it,“journalism as forum” has historically been every bit as important as“journalism as fact”to defining the role of newspapers. Successful online community initiatives require a plan. The plan starts with identifying a target audience and understanding its needs for online commu- nity capabilities. Only then should specific technologies be considered. Social network sites such as MySpace and Facebook have built huge audiences, but their lessons for newspaper sites may be modest. They are attracting large audiences and considerably more loyalty than newspaper Web sites, but this appears largely to be due to their core audiences of teenagers (MySpace) and college students (Facebook), who are at a point in their lives when relationships with friends are central to individual identity. While online conversations can get unpleasant, they can also be successfully moderated and kept on track. Choosing the right technology model, requir- ing some degree of registration and devoting staff resources to online communities are among the key steps to success. Online communities can generate new revenue. Newspapers are finding creative ways to build businesses around online communities, selling targeted banner ads and experimenting with new ingredients such as business directories with social-network features. TheOnlineCommunityCookbook Conclusion
  34. 34. 34© 2008 Newspaper Association of America. All rights reserved. The following vendors have products and software available for newspaper Web sites interested in building an online community. This list is limited to those vendors included in the Exhibitor and Sponsor Directory from the 2008 Newspaper Association of America Marketing Conference in Orlando, Fla. A guide to all the Marketing Conference exhibitors and sponsors is available at www.naa.org/marketingconference. Community Sports Desk (2008 Marketing Conference booth #915) Address: 5800 7th Ave., Kenosha, WI 53140 Phone: (262) 656-6313 ext. 313 Web site: www.communitysportsdesk.com Contact: Bill Dunbar, Consultant, mserpe@kenoshanews.com “Play the field”where your viewers and readers are–in burgeoning youth and recreational sports –without adding reporting staff. Communitysportsdesk.com equips participants to enter game stats and summaries, upload photos and administer their leagues. All entries flow online; newspapers define the content they want drawn off for publication. Features auto-generated highlights, missing game reminders for teams, slots for local ad sales. Connect with your community at the grassroots level by covering activities deeper, better, faster. CommunityPro, LLC (2008 Marketing Conference booth #502) 13101 Washington Blvd., Suite 458, Los Angeles, CA 90066 Phone: (310) 566-7151 Web site: www.community-pro.com Contact: Steve Dienna, President and CEO, Steve.Dienna@Community-Pro.com CommunityPro - Connecting Your Newspaper with Local High School Sports Teams. CommunityPro offers free online tools and high quality Web sites for prep sports teams provided by and co-branded with the newspaper. This exclusive program effectively drives new revenue from local content and enhances newspapers’relationships within the local community. With CommunityPro, editors augment timely local content while maintaining editorial control. Publishers gain new ad products and inventory to offer advertisers. Dell Sports (2008 Marketing Conference booth # 415) 2303 Distribution St., Charlotte, NC 28203 Phone: (704) 332-5562 Web site: www.dellsports.com Contact: Terry Dell, President, terry@dellsports.com Dell Sports provides highly interactive online sports games, content, and social networking for media partners around the United States. Our latest product“Prep Sports Nation”is a localized High School Sports social Web site with a robust stats engine to enter, track, and produce stats reports for every High School sport. Complete with video/picture sharing, school/team pages, user profiles, and blogs, Prep Sports Nation is a full solution with reverse publishing on all user content. TheOnlineCommunityCookbook Appendix:VendorList
  35. 35. 35© 2008 Newspaper Association of America. All rights reserved. Legacy.com (2008 Marketing Conference booth #515) 820 Davis St., Suite 210, Evanston, IL 60201 Phone: (888) 397-9494 Web site: newspapers.legacy.com Contact: Kim VanderVelde, Director of Sales kimv@legacy.com Serving 500+ newspapers in the US, Canada, and the UK, Legacy.com is the recognized leader in online memorialization and has a growing presence in several additional verticals including pets (Gadzoo!), celebrations and public notices (MyPublicNotices). Legacy.com verticals grow audience, enhance content, foster community and immediately generate incremental income for newspapers. There are no set-up fees and any of our vertical solutions can be launched within 30 days. McClatchy Interactive 1100 Situs Court, Raleigh, NC 27606 Phone: (919) 861-1213 Web site: www.mcclatchyinteractive.com McClatchy Interactive provides digital publishing solutions that support The McClatchy Company, the third- largest newspaper company in the US, and numerous external newspaper customers by generating revenue and workflow efficiencies that grow their business. Hosted services include the Workbench content management system and InSite, our turn-key online registration tool. McClatchy Interactive owns and operates the Real Cities Network, the largest national network of local news Web sites, with over 1,800 affiliates in more than 110 U.S. markets. Morris DigitalWorks (2008 Marketing Conference booth #701) 725 Broad St., Augusta, GA 30901 Phone: (706) 828-4337 or (866) 495-5097 Web site: www.morrisdigitalworks.com Contact: Karen Taylor, Director of Business Development, karen.taylor@morris.com Morris DigitalWorks (MDW) is an innovative multimedia development company providing tools, technologies, Web development services and prepress solutions to Morris Communications newspapers and external clients. Our advanced Internet publishing tools, such as mdClassifieds™, mdRealEstate™, mdTransit® and SPOTTED®, have been field-tested by Morris newspapers, and have proven effective in producing enhanced Web content and generating substantial revenues. Additionally, MDW’s impressive suite of BluMunKee® prepress software automates the process of correcting photos for print and Web publishing. NewsGator Technologies (2008 Marketing Conference booth #814) 950 17th St., Suite 2500, Denver, CO 80202 Phone: (303) 552-3900 or (800) 608-4597 Web site: www.newsgatorwidgets.com Contact: Craig Lachman, Sales, Syndication Services, craigl@newsgator.com NewsGator’s Widget Framework and RSS platform enable newspapers to create Web 2.0 deployments that enhance content, add collaboration, and extend their brands and ads to users’portals, homepages and social networks. Powering a range of sites from USA TODAY, Discovery and CBS to National Geographic, community papers, and financial and retail sites, NewsGator delivers profitable Web 2.0 functionality to the desktop, Web, and wireless. Our services launch rapidly, drive page views and increase advertising revenues.
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