A story this morning about levees reminds me of one of the big debates among print types as they try to figure out what people want online.
We plan to run a couple of maps online, one from the Corps of Engineers, one a Google map, that show where an at-risk levy is. This isn’t something we had the time or room for in the print edition, but as with many stories, it is no big deal to have room on the Web…
But is that worth the trip? Does it take more than a bit of relevant extra information to get people to go to the site? I mean, yeah, if the flood of ’96 happened again and we had video of the water lapping at the top of the Bennington Lake dike, I would go online to look at it. But a map showing where the dike is? Probably not.
That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do those things. I think we should, but I don’t think we should expect massive traffic to our site because of them. We print a lot of news that on its own wouldn’t be enough to sell the paper, but that sure doesn’t mean we’re going to leave it out. I view online extras the same way: Not the reason people go to the site, but something they should reasonably expect from us once they get there.
The debate I refer to is whether to simply (and it isn’t always simple) “repurpose” copy for the Web or do that, and add a few extras here and there, or whether to do something completely different for the online.
The 10 Ahead calendar in Marquee (the center two pages) wouldn’t be much use in that form online, but it would be wonderful to have an easily searchable events calendar. Those are two different things, but have essentially the same content.
I tend to think that Web content needs to be made from scratch most of the time, not just being the result of fiddling with print content…