MySiouxFalls.com is a new and local online news source for the city where I currently reside, Sioux Falls, South Dakota. At first, I was not all that excited about the site and had not plan on mentioning the MySiouxFalls.com site in my writing. We've all seen these sites before, right? In fact, I would say that many of the visitors to this blog likely have designed or participated in building sites similar to MySiouxFalls.com. That's not to say that there are not some things from a content management perspective worth mentioning.
Open source fans likely would have interest in knowing that the site runs Joomla! for it's content management system. Weather buffs who border on the geeky side also might find interest that much of the site's weather graphics are provide by HAMweather. HAMweather provides weather-related products and services (some of it for free) and in my opinion produces some of the best "custom" graphics derived from the National Weather Service's NDFD. While the site's software has caught my attention, for a change it is something else that has caught my attention. After visiting the site a few times and a chain of events, I suddenly realized that sites such as MySiouxFalls, NowPublic, and The Register are slowly changing my habits as a news reader.
While I'm surrounded by information technology on the job and in my career I've always put limits on technology when it comes to personal preference. While I will occasionally use a laptop computer when I'm on the road, I still prefer to jot my notes and thoughts down in a spiral notebook. While I have a PDA on my desktop, I also prefer to keep dates in an old fashion paper date book. And finally, when I read my Wall Street Journal on the weekdays or the local Argus Leader on weekends, I prefer to have that news delivered at my door and not the computer screen. At least that's how I thought of myself, until it came time this weekend to once again to do my weekly chore of taking unread newspaper to the recycle bin.
During the past year, I've found that when my newspapers hit the recycle bin many of them are still rolled-up exactly in the same way when they were delivered. Those newspapers were not read either by my wife or me. On a second trip to the recycle bin, I carried many of the trade magazines sent to me at the office including the April 2, 2007 edition of Infoworld. There is something special about that issue of Infoworld, it's the last edition of the magazine in print as the publisher has ceased printing it's weekly edition in hardcopy and instead has chosen to focus on delivering it's articles solely online. The irony is that this is September and it had taken me five months to read this story in print.
It appears to me that after 25 years of competition, the traditional media of newspaper, radio, and television are finally starting to lose their war against online news. Henry Blodget recently pointed out on his Internet Outsider site about the decline of advertisement revenue for television, print, and radio. You may also be interested in a similar article by him titled, Running the Numbers: Why Newspapers Are Screwed. However, before local online news sites and upstart news organizations celebrate it's important to note that a recent Harvard study, Creative Destruction: An Exploratory Look at News on the Internet, shows that they too should still have concerns. As people are shifting from traditional media to online news, those same people are also also shifting away from local news sources to better known online "brand" names.
Our evidence suggests that the Internet is redistributing the news audience in a way that is pressuring some traditional news organizations. Product substitution through the Web is particularly threatening to the print media, whose initial advantage as a “first mover” has all but disappeared. The Internet is also a larger threat to local news organizations than to those that are nationally known. Because the Web reduces the influence of geography on people’s choice of a news source, it inherently favors “brand names”—those relatively few news organizations that readily come to mind to Americans everywhere when they go to the Internet for news.
Still, while local online news should worry about the bigger news organizations, their future is still brighter than those organizations that have chosen to ignore the need for an online presence. If you are in doubt of whether online news can fully replace the traditional media then consider this. The time you've spent reading my post here at CMS Report was once time spent reading the newspaper or watching your television. Instead, due to the convenience of reading news and editorials online you've chosen to read my words and look at my advertisement. All that time you and I spend online has finally began impacting local media. I thank you and my online advertisers thank you for your support.