The transition of getting news from print to Internet has several negative “one-two punches” involved. A major one is getting not only the actual news online, but the audience as well. It takes a news organization a considerable amount of time and energy to get a website or blog up and running, and even if they succeed at that, it can still fail. As the Online Journalism Review article pointed out, much of the work in getting a newspaper transitioned to the Internet is actually spent building up a relationship with the readers via social networking. With how quickly society is moving into the digital and virtual age, reporters should be expected to handle this task.
Some reporters are concerned about their time being allocated more to managing social networks instead of actually reporting and writing. They feel that their priorities are being skewed incorrectly, when really they just need more training. It is overwhelming having Twitter, Facebook, Disqus, and a website dropped into your lap to run if you don’t have the knowledge to oversee them in an acceptable amount of time. There simply hasn’t been enough training offered to reporters to make this possible, and it ends up taking up much more of their time than it should. It gets handled inefficiently; therefore, isn’t successful; therefore, the reporter feels it is pointless. It’s a nasty cycle and isn’t fruitful for the news organization.
However, if done correctly, an online news source can create a thriving community that interacts within itself as well as with the writers of the website. There are a few technical guidelines involved, such as making sure you phrase questions to the audience in a way that guides their responses, instead of just inviting them to vent. But mainly, the important thing is to take some time and foster an audience that is willing to socialize. And once that is accomplished, the success of the website will rise significantly. Yes, it takes some work. And yes, it is definitely worth it.
Niles says in his article, “Once you’ve engaged a few readers in a meaningful conversation on a topic about which you are passionate, you’ll find continuing that conversation across multiple media a engaging pleasure, not a time-sucking chore. Readers will see that, and want to jump in themselves, if only just to watch.”