Making fun of lame corporate online publications is one of my favourite recreational activities. Have you seen the relatively new News Corp series of faux local online newspaper sites called Where I Live, including the Melbourne Leader (the online equivalent of the print paper)? It has more advertisements than content. It also features the worst example I have ever seen of user generated news or participatory journalism. It is fake hyperlocal content at its most pathetic.
Potential contributors start by creating an account that allows them to submit news. Accounts do not allow users to include an external URL to point to another online identity or content platform, and this makes the Leader a dead end content silo that does not give and take in a fair or equitable manner. It expects to take content from contributors but give them nothing in return. It does not share. It’s a greedy, selfish content parasite. It wastes the time of contributors by basically making them do work for News Corp for nothing. It’s another perfect example of how not to do social media.
The tips for contributors outline the inverted pyramid concept of news reporting, which is used by newspapers. It’s why most news reported reads like disjointed repetitive driven aimed at intellectually disabled children. The inverted pyramid creates unnatural, boring and tedious writing. It may work in twentieth century print news but does not work well online. Good online writing does need to be granular, broken down into short sections and paragraphs, but need not be constrained by the inverted pyramid. These tips encourage bad writing.
The worst condition in the incredibly selfish terms and conditions is 17, which states “You waive any moral rights in your contribution for the purposes of its submission to and publication on the Site.” In the context of the site this basically means you give up your right to be identified as the creator or author of the content you submit. They will use your content any way they wish and won’t even give you a nominal credit for it. Like many web 2.0 startups, they are all take and no give.
Combined with the absence of a link to a contributor’s external site, such as a blog or a social network profile, this means that the Leader gives no credit or recognition to contributors. It creates a closed system where there is no incentive or motivation to contribute. The result? Two news submissions in more than a month of the feature being live. If you could call it that. I’d call it dead, diseased failure.
Early adopters of social media are smarter than the media suits, and the suits consistently underestimate the digerati. We’re not playing their boring old game. None of them can give me a good answer to my question ‘why should I help you build your business empire?‘ That’s because there is no answer. Customers are the social media experts, not corporations. We know the value of our content and will not allow corporations to exploit it.
Like most newspapers, the Leader will not achieve anything by replicating its failed print business model online. Many sections of newspapers, such as letters to the editor and film and restaurant reviews are now done better online than in print. Classified advertisements were perhaps the first newspaper feature that the internet improved on. Genuine citizen journalism is far better at reporting on hyperlocal news than corporate dinosaurs.
As one commenter eloquently put it, legacy media’s local newspapers, whether print or online, are stadium rock while hyperlocal media is punk. Another says that hyperlocal may be “the most disruptive phase of the internet yet“. Kick out the jams motherfuckers…