And no, it’s not a U.S. corporation – although there probably are some corporations making smart, forward-thinking moves that are paying off in huge increases in traffic, the establishment of something cool that brings in the young audience and that works smoothly with all the other parts of the corporate empire. Uh… aren’t there? Anyone? Bueller? Anyone?
The case studies that I did recently for the NAA (Newspaper Association of America) focused on a couple of newspapers in Latin America that have had the balls to swim again the Conventional Wisdom Current and come up with innovative web-based strategies. I’d love to post both stories – but the NAA paid me handsomely (money money money hee hee hee – oops sorry was that out loud?) and I don’t want to screw them over. So I’ll just talk in general terms about the stories for now.
The first case study was about a website in Spain – Spain’s largest newspaper, El Pais saw that it was having the same problems that papers in the U.S. are having – that is, they noticed that the younger generation was paying no attention to the paper. This is a real problem. Not only do advertisers want to reach the young people, but long (or even mid) term, if your audience is growing older and croaking without being replaced, that means that your paper is just going to wither and die.
U.S. papers have responded to this crisis with characteristic efficiency. They’ve made bold, well-thought-out initiatives to … (WHACK!) … sorry, that was the Giant Baseball Bat of Irony smacking me on the head.
The truth is that U.S. papers have done jack shit. They shoveled their content onto the web, didn’t listen to the webmasters and people who actually work on the web and know what they’re talking about, shit all over their ideas when they did listen to them, and then turned around and threw money at a succession of snake-oil salesmen.
In Spain, they took their best and brightest, and said, "Hey – why don’t you go and design the kind of website with the kind of content that you would like to see?"
The result was EP3. It doesn’t take itself too seriously. It involves its audience. It looks and works different than the traditional news sites.
It’s tremendously popular. It’s winning awards. It is the future. And what it required was actually trusting the people that you hire and pay to actually know something. To know what works or what will work.
I know. Talk about a concept that is garlic&crucifix to U.S. Corporate KultÃ¼r.
I wonder if anybody is going to pay the slightest bit of attention to my story? Probably not – at least not as long as some brother-in-law of one of the Board of Directors is working for a sleazy "web solutions" company that parrots all the right buzzwords…
And yeah, this whole thing was an excuse to strip in a lot of the illustrations and screen grabs that I got for the EP3 story, but was unable to use.
So sue me.