In this business, we writers watch each other very carefully. We keep an especially twitchy eye trained on those corporate staff writers with their pages of accolades. It’s not their fault. The collective ego of society convinces us that there is value in those accolades. They need it to have value. But the new generation is on to them. They’re bored with them. The slow-acceptance of these primitive thinking newspaper executives allows them to keep ramming their ‘glory days’ references up our wazoos. They tote by-lines noting decades of combined newspaper writing experience—like that means something now. It doesn’t. There is no edge there. It’s just old news.
If you’ve been in southern Ontario, you might have heard of DailyWebTV.com. It’s part of the Torstar conglomerate—residing under the Metroland division. Having paid some dues in the Torstar ranks, I lack the restraint in using them as an example of newspaper ego. With a history of contracting for them, I can tell you that they are—as any other large corporation—in it to win it. Focus on numbers and profit, and understand very little about the culture they’re cultivating.
They are big management types making uninformed decisions based on old-school thinking. Times have changed for the print houses—but their mindsets have not. They’re struggling to keep their traditional identities out there in a shifting landscape. (It’s really more of a landslide.) Enter the DailyWebTV.com. Truthfully, I don’t know much about the division, and I do know a couple of good, qualified people tucked in to the production side of things. However, this is an example of a traditional print house trying to carve out a corner of the new media market. This translated identity is based on expired knowledge—and they seem to believe that it is a benefit to them. Their social presence lacks personality and something about their blog started a school-house-size fire deep in the crevices of my writer patience. There are three writers—all clearly part of the newspaper club—with a collection of flat information that reads like the dry pamphlets littering the waiting room of my dentist’s office. Harsh, right? Pffft! I’m their audience too.
Us social writers, already eking out our living—in real time—know something about the new audience that newspaper folk just don’t know. There is no apocalyptic gone-to-press deep breath. You are engaging your audience the second you post—and you’d better have written something that captivates, woos their hard-working souls and embraces the social nature of everything. The competition is tight. Every second person you pass is a blogger. Stories are free. There is no query process for commercial anymore. The competitive strategies for landing article gigs are obsolete. There is no more old-school news. Nobody wants it. Nobody listens. Nobody reads it. If you’re not giving the reader a little bit of fun and a whole lot of wow—they’ve moved on to the next site that will. 250 words. That’s how long you’ve got to entice your audience or they’ll be backing out of your page before it finishes loading. News writers and feature writers listen up; you’ve become obsolete. It’s time to get your toes wet as a Social writer—or get the deuce out of our way.
I respectfully apologize (in advance) to the staff writers of the DailyWebTVBlog.com for posting an excerpt from their “About Us” page. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a run-on sentence that can dry out my corneas. With 30 years of skilled newspaper writing and editing experience—who the frak edited this?
“The skilled team of writers at DailyWebTV.com brings together the experience a 30-year veteran of newspapers and magazines who has worked as a news reporter, feature writer, senior editor and web editor; a writer and newswire service editor; and a consumer and trade magazines writer and online writer and editor.”
You lost me at skilled team of writers.