Freesheet merger on Iceland
Vertigo 42

Social currency anno 2008

"Newspapers have already lost one of their key selling points: Social currency. In 2008, all meaningful political discourse — the essential element of social currency — takes place on the Web."

Dan at Xark in "10 reasons why newspapers won't reinvent news", via Mindy McAdams, who on this particular point says: "If you think he’s exaggerating, then I think you are — sorry to break it to you — one of those people who still hasn’t figured out online. It’s getting a bit late for that now"


I'm not sold on the "social currency" aspect of the argument. For example: Kos led the charge to make sure Hillary didn't get the nomination. But he didn't get to pick exactly who would; the online crowd probably were more sympathetic to Edwards than Obama.

Now I realize "social currency" is a very different thing from "actually causing political change," but that's where Xark is going, and I'm playing by their rules here. And I don't mind playing by those rules because that's telling me that media is so much larger than the Web, as are ways to influence people. I think a legitimate case can be made that those of us who are online are already a very specific group - a major reason why my blog hasn't taken off is because my sort of reader wouldn't be online in the first place, for the most part. They're busy trying to write a poem or read 1000 page books on the history of art.

I think a more refined and useful notion for someone in the newspaper business is this: yeah, you can't get too radical, and you need to lower expectations. But your job now isn't to cater to some old core that isn't sustainable growth. Your job is to find the audience you want and get them the product they need. You've got amazing amounts of resources and yet I can safely tell you most bloggers are doing a better job of this just by saying hi to different people online and asking them questions.

I was actually looking to buy a subscription to the WSJ the other day before I saw that it was $89. The paper is more relevant than ever in the States, both for online and offline discourse, and I wanted a hard copy of it because my parents don't go online much, yet all the major issues are there and not shabbily treated. A newspaper needs to position itself against TV and radio better - that stuff is beyond awful right now, esp. in campaign season.

The comments to this entry are closed.