Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Offline to Online – The Marketing Migration

Whenever I’m talking to my friends about a news story and I can’t remember the exact source, I tell them to Google it. I don’t say it’s in the Free Lane Star or the New York Times; no, it is always Google it. With my parents, though, they always reference the local newspaper, The Journal. I think it only serves three very small counties. The other day I tried finding it online and when I did, the site was pathetic. No up-to-date status on stories; they literally posted the same thing that they put in their paper. The problem with this is that The Journal is only printed once a week. Usually the information is outdated or strictly local.

Most of these small town newspapers are failing in today’s internet journalism. Journalism is still alive and thriving; however, newspapers are dying rapidly. The Tucson Citizen in Southern Arizona will be closing it’s doors after 140 years this Saturday. They aren’t the only ones that are having issues keeping their paper afloat. The LA Times, Chicago Tribune, and Philadelphia Inquirer have all sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the past year.

The question shouldn’t be “Why aren’t people reading the news anymore?” but “Why aren’t newspapers going online?” My friends all have subscriptions to washingtonpost.com and it’s daily e-mails. I still get the real paper delivered to my apartment though. The only reason I have it isn’t habit, but because the subscription was free when I moved in. Now the only thing I use the paper for is kitty litter clean up. Fewer and fewer people still rely on newspapers as their go-to source. I know my Dad is one of them. It might be a generation difference, but more and more there are people in their fifties that prefer to go online and read the stories simply because it cost less.

Journalism won’t be a long-lost art because of the internet. If anything, it’ll make the job better because the information can always be up-to-date instead of eleven hours old. "The overall move to online has been big," IDG chairman Patrick McGovern said. "Print editions are yesterday's news. If it is news, people want to hear it as soon as they can." Journalism has evolved to fit this need of current news being, well, current. The newspapers that are failing aren’t following suit; The Washington Post and The New York Times are still doing well, serving both the traditional newspaper and one online with RSS feeds set-up to the most up-to-date information. These two companies have evolved with journalism; they took the leap from offline to online.

Newspapers aren’t the only companies that are faced with a decision to move online though. Radio made the move as well with sites such as Pandora allowing commercial free music channels that the user creates or iTunes. YouTube, Hulu, Break.com and other sites all have made television or funny videos available to you at any time. The digital age is upon us and being on the internet is critical to survival. Even if it is the simplest site ever, just having it up will help people find your business. I don’t use the phone book to look up businesses; I go to Google and look. The point is that if you don’t evolve, you’ll be left behind with the newspaper stands, yellowing in the sun.

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