It is the Fourth of July, Independence Day in the United States, a day when we dress up in red/white/blue outfits, eat hot dogs and barbecue, and set off small explosives. It also is a day for pontificating about what it is to be an American. We don't really need a special day for that, as we now are in a state of continuous political campaigning and under a barrage of propaganda from our "deregulated" broadcasting industry.
I was part of a panel discussion of metrics and analytics in the newsroom a couple of weeks ago at the Journalism Interactive conference at the University of Maryland. I approached the subject with some trepidation. Some journalists are resistant to the very idea of measurement, often downright innumerate, and sometimes hostile to any idea that doesn't lead us all back into the honey and clover of the 1980s, before the Internet came along and turned it all into snakes and bees.
I passed another milepost yesterday. April 1 was my 20th anniversary in digital media. I moved from the print newsroom of the Star Tribune on April 1, 1994, found a desk in the tech office, and started noodling on a website prototype on a Mac Quadra.
Back in the last decade we created a community photo-sharing platform called Spotted. The original idea was borrowed from a simple, successful content/marketing program at Cox Interactive Media, where I was executive editor at the turn of the century. We sent someone with a digital camera to an event with instructions to turn around and shoot the spectators, and hand out business cards. The resulting slideshows were huge traffic generators.
News alerts, headline pushes, weekly digests, Daily Deals ... most of us running news organizations use email marketing to get the word out and drive website traffic. It's cheap, it's easy, and it addresses the Web's greatest weakness -- that it's a pull medium, not a push-delivery medium.
Another day, another smooth-talking dotcom entrepreneur with big ambitions runs aground trying to build a national hyperlocal site, or network, or something. Jeff Jarvis has studied the matter and concludes: