About Me

  • I've spent more than 25 years at the intersection of traditional and digital journalism. I've helped to invent ways to read and interact with the news and advertising on computer screens and iPads, and before that, I wrote news stories on typewriters and six-ply paper. I co-founded WashingtonPost.com and hyperlocal pioneers Backfence.com and GrowthSpur; served as editor of Philly.com; taught media entrepreneurship at the University of Maryland; and have done product-development and strategy consulting for all sorts of media and Internet companies and startups. You can read more about me here.

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« Right and Wrong | Main | Another Play at The Times »

January 28, 2008



Recently Leonard Witt hosted a video of Clay Shirky talking about how every URL is a potential community.


This is doubly so for any newspaper website that features related articles on topics that can be brought together.

At the norgs unconference one of the items we agreed upon was that:

"Collections of stories, and our interactions with them, define communities."


To each story a URL. To each collection of stories a URL.

Each URL is an opportunity to bring context to a story, and along with it opportunities to engage advertisers.

Newspapers are starting to come around to this and are opening their archives to the public, but I have seen none take the next few steps that enable their communities to engage them in the mix-and-mash way that is the web.


Zac Echola

Part of the problem is newspapers teaming up with national companies like Cars.com, Yahoo, Google and Monster instead of building their own local vertical classifieds products.

Whenever I tell papers they need to own every local keyword they can, that includes classifieds.

As it stands now, these people are fleeing to national sites, which, mind you, have a horrible conversion rate (especially in the Jobs category).

Rick Waghorn


Spot on. We are far from there yet, but we're just about to put a second 'foot soldier' into our two neighbouring counties to start sourcing exactly the local advertising that you talk about... these people want to take their local brand to an online local marketplace; they just don't know how to do it. Build yourself your own banner ad management system - www.twadservices.co.uk - give Joe's Pets his own client log in to see his own numbers and hold his hand and take him across the river...
And then build your own 'self-service' text ads service - we've christened ours 'addiply' as in ads that add then multiply - that, in effect, become the postcard ads people place in the local hardware store... and, hopefully, away you go. Enjoyed your talk at Jarvis' do in the autumn... 'We were on the right track, we just run out of track...' is something that runs around in my head time and time again... that's the challenge for all of us.

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