February 17, 2012

Who needs the Web? Boston Courant and many other community papers

This post on the Nieman Lab blog is worth a read.

BostonCourant.com — or whatever the heck Jacobs might call the site, if he ever buys a domain name for it — exists only on [Publisher David] Jacobs’ desktop. The paper has no Twitter feed, no YouTube channel, no mobile app. It sort of has a Facebook page, but only because one was autogenerated from the Courant’s Wikipedia page. The Courant doesn’t control it.

But if the old-fangled Courant is doing journalism all wrong, someone forgot to tell its accountant. Circulation is at 40,000 and rising, the newsroom just moved into a swanky downtown office building, and the paper — which already covers four of Boston’s most affluent neighborhoods — is about to add two new full-time reporters to reach more of the city. ...

In a more subdued moment, Jacobs conceded there is something to lose by digital abstinence. Without a website, he said, the Courant misses opportunities to break news between printings. “I was discussing this with one of my reporters yesterday,” Jacobs said. “She really wants to have a website, and I said, ‘Why?’ She said, ‘Because we break so many stories before even the dailies know about them, and if we’re the first to post, we get the recognition.’ I understand that, and no one is more competitive than me.

“But look,” he continued, “it’s a question of tradeoffs. My ego and my staff’s ego — which is very important because we’re all in this to be competitive — versus losing money.”

 Jacobs is following the path many community publishers have taken ...

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