Ottaway Newspapers’ excellent model

Ottaway Newspapers’ excellent model
As noted here many times, newspapers are ahead of television stations in the use of New Media to further their reach. An interview with George M. Dratelis, Corporate Internet Marketing Director for Ottaway Newspapers Inc. Web sites, in today’s online Editor & Publisher is MUST READING for anybody serious about this subject. Dratelis is blazing the trail that most will follow, and he sings a tune readers of this space will recognize. Here are a few tidbits:

1. Ottaway has a web development and hosting arm, and they build websites for advertising clients.

“What I do see as a departure from most other newspaper groups is our willingness to build Web sites for businesses in our markets. I have heard some commentary at industry events that Web site development is not a “core competency” for newspapers so we should stay away from that opportunity. I don’t buy that argument. Our industry has ventured into a new field with our Internet publications and related advertising opportunities so I think we need to look at what businesses are looking for as they navigate this new medium. I see a Web site for a business as nothing more than a large interactive advertisement that needs user traffic to be viable.”
2. Ottaway is planning for multimedia content.
“One of the initiatives that I had presented to our corporate management team a while back was the implementation of a database-driven CMS (Content Management System) to create and manage our Web sites. These initiatives are now being pursued in tandem since we see the future of our publishing efforts in a multimedia environment. My biggest challenge in 2004 will be to ensure that the online content management piece of the system that Ottaway selects will meet our expectations for Web publishing functionality. The system will need to be flexible enough to evolve and grow with the changes that will come in the future.”
3. It’s dangerous to view online as merely an extension of the original.
“I think the biggest challenge facing online journalism as practiced by most newspapers is the need to accept that the Internet is different than the newspaper. Internet user expectations are what we should be focused on, yet many in our industry have continued to see the Internet as simply an add-on to the existing product. I think that we risk becoming irrelevant in the online information field if we look at our Web sites as just the online edition of the paper.”
These are troubling, but exciting times we’re in, and I’ve been screaming for a long time that the core competency of a local TV station in the future will be multimedia content delivery, and that, as such, our biggest competitor will be the local paper. Clearly, this is the case where Ottaway has papers. Are you listening, TV stations?

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