“The Collaborator”? Naming Newspapers 2.0

This evening I had that very rare and precious of things: time on my hands. But, unfortunately, it appears that when given space to think I don’t always use it that wisely.

As I was pounding on the cross-trainer in the gym my mind definitely wandered.

Ignoring some of the more fundemental historical reasons for their being, it occurred to me that many newspaper names in this country might be accused of reinforcing the “we shout, you listen” mentality.

The Post, although I hope developing a reputation to the contrary, is a case in point.

Then there’s The Mail, The Mercury (the winged messenger of the Gods no less!), The Standard, The Telegraph… even The Guardian seems a little paternalistic.

So, I mused, in this brave new world of crowd-sourcing, participation and reader inclusion what should a news publicaton be called?

The Consult? The Listener?

The we-try-and-take-your-opinions-into-account-but sometimes-we-run-out-of-time-er?

I plumped for “The Collaborator”.

It did, however, occur to me that this didn’t sound very Web 2.0 in comparison to the many new social media applications springing up across the interwebs.

Perhaps it would be better to design a cute little mascot-cum-logo and give the publication a title such as “Storeez” or “Gnewz” (oddly gnewz.com goes to the campaign website of Douglas Geiss, Democratic candidate for State Representative Committee in Michigan).

32 thoughts on ““The Collaborator”? Naming Newspapers 2.0

  1. Mind you The Post is quite lucky, it could be seen in the same way a blog post, inviting comment…

    “The Daily Link Dump”

  2. 1337 is the way to go.

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    \/\/45|-|1|\|970|\| p057

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  3. @ Paul Groves: The other day I was waiting in Clarks for some shoes for my kid, having picked up that little paper number thing. We got talking about the number and process – indulging in what we later realised was “chitty chat”

  4. Am waiting for a Mr. Goldberg to propose ‘The Sharer’.

    Am also a bit confused over the role of a ‘news publication’ in this regard. If it is about publishing news, names like Journal, Gazette, Post, Reporter are all fine. If it is not a news publication but an information sharing service, then names like Telephone, Wiki, and Collective/Cooperative are reasonable titles.

  5. Thanks guys – great suggestions.

    @dp: Interesting question. Do you think regional newspapers can afford solely to be news publishing services?

    Also, in the process of gathering news are we not information sharing anyway? The only difference is that online this process is more transparent.

    @Paul Groves and Nick Booth: you should be ashamed of yourselves! ;)

  6. Interesting stuff as usual…however don’t we need to consider the difference between print (where people are looking for order, organisation, emphasis, context and analysis from their Guardians, Bugles, Packets and Heralds) and the web (sharing, collaborative, organic, slightly chaotic). The answer probably is that we need a different identity for each space. The Hull Daily Mail is interesting in this respect, it’s new open web space is renamed YourMail http://www.thisisyourmail.co.uk/ – check it out…

  7. Well, Joanna, that’s a nice question, partly because it raises two others: has any newspaper existed solely as a news publisher, cf. news, adverts, opinion etc)? And has the BBC ever printed a newspaper?

    In answer to your question though, I reckon a regional news publisher needs an income aside from subscriptions, so yes, it has to be something other than a news publisher, hence the Classifieds. However, these functions get hived off online, so the news bit itself can be seen as separate, or conversely, if you think of web browsers as the medium of consumption, then news is fully integrated with everything else on the web. In the latter case you still need an evocative brand name, but it doesn’t have to logical or even associative. The Sentinel, Bugle and Pantagraph are all evocative, though I’d prefer the Bee, Big Pasture News, or Allotment Argus.

  8. Hi dp,

    Thanks for the response – it got me thinking.

    The classifieds may be hived off online, but increasingly the conversation isn’t. Many news organisations are allowing comments underneath stories.

    This raises the question that, by doing so, are they any longer “just” a news publisher?

    As an aside, I like the idea of seeing the web as one big publication and that has got me thinking about how business models for newspapers might work online in the future…

  9. To date, the comments tend to be reactive rather than sustaining a dialogue. SF Gate and the Guardian have regular commenters, and so sometimes have more of a conversation. But I believe the aim is to develop ongoing dialogue in the manner of the Well or similar sites. In some ways it mirrors mail lists or academic media that are centred on particular topics and everyone has a presumed level of interest.

    Can a news organisation do likewise? I think so, given that people like Adrian Goldberg have developed something along those lines.

  10. Lots of people love mouthing off in forums. And they like getting rows* with people. What I think we should do on the Post website is integrate the forums with the front page and the stories far more than we do.

    My ideas:

    i) Fix it so that the “Have your say on news, business and sport in our Forums” link at the end of stories actually takes people to the forums, not a page asking them to create an account. Most people won’t create accounts unless they want to say something, and most people don’t say anything on forums until they have lurked for a bit.

    ii) Put a section on the front page of the site which shows latest posts from the forum.

    iii) Get the Editor to post there, in reply to the (few) posts that currently exist. And you, Jo. And Roshan Doug. Even me!

    iv) Put a big, visible link to the forums on the front page of the site, rather than the little text link on the top right.

    Forums drive traffic. People like them.

    PS I take great pride in the fact that the most-read topic on the Post forum is still “What Planet is Jonathan Walker on”.

    *debates

  11. Further to Jonathan’s points, earlier this week I wanted to see what was being said on the forums, and found that the most recent comment was from sometime in May. Not very active then!

    Having to register was a bit of a detour, so I agree there too. It would be nice if a forum developer came up with something that allowed one initial comment from unregistered visitors, based on IP or something.

    But there is a drawback to the forum format, which is that it takes one away from the story itself while imposing its own sort of conditions on how people contribute. The wider point is that web hasn’t developed a tool that sustains moderately real-time discussion around a story.

  12. Jonathan (welcome to the blog), dp,

    Thanks for your comments. I agree that the Post forums are under-utilised and that it is one area I want to look at developing in my new role.

    I pretty much agree with everything you have both said.

    I will have a chat with the team that developed our website to see if there is any way of getting around the registration page for the forums.

    As a health warning, newspaper forums are often notoriously difficult to develop a sense of community around. However, this is really necessary unless we want to be an online home to the mad and the angry.

    That means that there needs to be regular moderation and participation by those working for the newspaper. I agree John, we should ALL be involved in the forum – not just those who write blogs. :)

    For a fantastic summary of what makes a good newspaper forum, I can reccommend a post by Alison Gow deputy editor of The Liverpool Post.

    As an adjunct, I will probably post linking to this thread. It seems appropriate to ask other people how they think a good forum should operate.

  13. Pingback: Developing The Birmingham Post forum « Joanna Geary

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