Monday, December 8, 2008

Newspapers go interactive to keep up with the ‘new participation age’

For long newspapers have been a static medium, doling out news, opinions and analysis with hardly any participation or contribution from the readers, barring the letters to the editor. However, technology is providing newer platforms to newspapers to bring in a more participatory element to news – be it blogs, citizen journalism, SMSes, emails or opinion polls.

Speaking on BCCL’s various initiatives, its Chief Marketing Officer, Rahul Kansal, said, “Apart from blogging, the other elements that a newspaper has at its disposal to encourage interactivity include emails, SMSes, physical panel discussions directly with the editor through campaigns like ‘Teach India’ and ‘Lead India’, and lastly, market research, where you get to know what readers are saying, what are their issues and what they want. In The Times of India, we have column called ‘My Times, My Voice’ on the Edit page in which we publish the responses directly come from our readers. And at the end of this column, we also give options to the readers to write to us either through emails, SMSes or letters on so and so number and address, respectively.”

Neelanjan Shome, Chief Marketing Officer, HT Media, remarked, “We are entering what Jonathan Swartz (COO of Sun MicroSystems) calls the ‘new participation age’, where boundaries between consumer/ creator is becoming increasingly blurred. This is particularly evident in the media firmament, where newspapers are attempting to forge relationships with the reader which is active rather than passive like in the past. Interactivity – content flowing both ways – is key to forming such a relationship. Newspapers around the world are attempting to do this in several ways, the only real constraint is our imagination. To mention a few examples, ‘OhMyNews’ in South Korea is written entirely by its readers – created by 33,000 citizen journalists everyday – generating a regular readership of 20 lakh. Wisconsin State Journal (second largest in the state) asks its readers to vote for the next day’s lead story.”

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