Last week Australian News Ltd supremo John Hartigan stirred up every media blogger in the Southern Hemisphere with a speech to the National Press Club. Hartigan took a swipe at bloggers as well as new media sites like Mumbrella and Crikey.
He also toed the company line that we will all be happily paying for news online soon due to the quality of the journalism (which was no doubt aided by the typo in his own paper).
Naturally the blogosphere were up in arms and Mumbrella received a gazillion comments helpfully pointing out that Harto had missed the point and, as @NickHaC so eloquently put it, “you will miss us when we are gone has never been a compelling business model”.
Anyway it occurred to me that this whole episode highlights both the shortcomings and potential solution to the online press predicament. Hartigan is seemingly trying to alienate the blogosphere yet generated substantial links and coverage online with his spray. Why not use the blogosphere (and Twitterverse) to your advantage?
Embrace the blogosphere!
Lets face it, links are the lifeblood of the internet. The traditional press seem to have ignored this fact with their online properties. They actively do their best to avoid linking to others so they can “keep eyeballs on their site”.
The truth is that much of their traffic these days comes from blogs, Twitter and Facebook users linking to their stories. If the end goal is maximum traffic in order to sell advertising, then why not embrace the web’s heaviest and most influential users?
If I was running an online news site I’d be asking quality bloggers to do guests posts, I’d open them up to comments, I’d link back to good bloggers and I’d provide every possible tool for viewers to pass my content around. You know, like all the smart bloggers do. Those people have built large and dedicated audiences online in a short amount of time without spending a cent on promotion; they must be doing something right.
I’d basically do the opposite to what News Ltd is proposing.
Embrace the blogosphere Harto, they may actually be your greatest friend rather than the enemy.