Monday, September 28, 2009

Weakly weekly news

Combine fires grip Alberta. That would have been my headline.

As I poke my nose into Alberta online news, I thought for sure I was seeing a rural news rivalry. Which media outlet did the best job covering last week’s great combine fires?

Would it be the Lloydminster Meridian Booster or the Fairview Post? A rumble in the farmland jungle. “Fire claims combine” says a saddened Post. Apparently the community is in mourning for its machinery. “Not the downtime needed in harvest” says the Booster. Awkward and sarcastic. I like it.

I found the booster doesn’t do a lot of boosting, and the fairview is a little unfair with the number of times they update their websites.

I’m picking on these two online papers, but this is typical with smaller news sites that mainly update their website on the day they publish. Why not shoot extra photos for the web, alert readers of upcoming issues, let them know what reporters are working on? Engage them? I can’t see readers relying too heavily on these sites for their news.

Weekly newspapers do a good job producing “hyperlocal” truly local news, but they have to start thinking daily, hourly, minutely when it comes to operating their online websites. The Vermilion Standard has a stale five-day-old story about a harvest that didn’t end in flames.

As it happens, Fairview and Lloydminster are on opposite sides of the province and reporting on separate combine fires. Both had a photo and a cutline, no article. It appears Fairview posted a day after the fire, and Booster the same day.

Booster wins by a technical knockout.

The Hyper Journalist


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